Transfiguration, Cathedral of the (Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi sobor). (Photo: Cathedral of the Transfiguration.) One of the oldest stone buildings in Ukraine and the finest extant monument of the medieval Chernihiv principality. Its construction was begun in 1036, during the reign of Prince Mstyslav Volodymyrovych, and completed about 30 years later, during the reign of Sviatoslav II Yaroslavych. The cathedral stood at the center of the palace buildings in Chernihiv and served as the mausoleum of the Chernihiv princely dynasty. It was a rectangular three-nave, three-apse structure with a narthex, five domes, burial chapels against the side walls, a three-apse one-story baptistery on the southern side, and a circular tower on the northern side. In 1791–9 and later the church was thoroughly reconstructed: the chapels were replaced with tambours with decorative baroque fronts, the original tower was extended, the baptistery was replaced by a second tower and both towers were topped by spires. A new iconostasis, designed by I. Yasnyshyn, was carved and installed in 1793–8; it contains 62 icons painted by T. Myzko and Oleksander Murashko. Some parts of the original building have been preserved: the carved slate parapets in the choir balconies, fragments of 11th-century frescoes (see fresco of Saint Teklia) and oil paintings, impost capitals and the base of marble columns, and inlaid slate floor plates. Some of the rich gold and silver church vessels have been preserved in the Chernihiv State Historical Museum. In 1967 the cathedral became part of the Chernihiv Architectural and Historical Preserve.

Sviatoslav Hordynsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

Encyclopedia of Ukraine