Golden Gate

Image - Golden Gate in Kyiv (reconstructed in the 1980s).

Golden Gate (Zoloti vorota). (Photo: Reconstructed Golden Gate.) One of the most important architectural and historical monuments remaining from the Kyivan Rus’ period. Located in the southwestern part of ancient Kyiv, the Golden Gate (GG) was begun in 1037 during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise. It was constructed at about the same time as Saint Sophia Cathedral and the upper city fortifications, and functioned as the main triumphal entrance and as a defendable portal to the fortified section of the city. The GG was built of brick and stone and consisted of a tower with a vaulted passageway (12 m high and up to 7.5 m wide), topped by a platform for guards and the small Church of the Annunciation. The passageway probably had a wooden or gilded gate, and there may have been turrets on the tower. The origin of the gate's name is unknown. It may have been named for the roof of the church, which was possibly covered with gold, for the copper fittings or gilt of the gate in the passageway, or for the Golden Gate of Constantinople. It served as the model for a gate built in Vladimir in the 1160s by Prince Andrei Bogoliubskii.

In 1240 the GG was partially destroyed by the Mongols; however, it remained in use as a portal until the middle of the 16th century. Such 15th- and 16th-century travelers as Paul of Aleppo and Erich Lassota von Steblau mentioned it in their writings, and a drawing (1651) by the Dutch artist Abraham Van Westerfeldt shows the remains of the church. In 1648, after their victory over the Poles, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and his army made their triumphal entrance into Kyiv through the GG. In 1750 the gate's remains were covered with earth. The ruins were excavated in 1832 by the archeologist Kindrat Lokhvytsky, and the structure was reinforced with a metal framework. Of the original GG only the brick and stone walls and portions of the arch remain. On the outside of the walls can be seen impressions left by the oak-beam framework of the walls that encircled the old city. Based on archeological excavations, scholars have created various models of the original GG, which was last restored in the early 1980s. A book about the GG, by Serhii Vysotsky, was published in Kyiv in 1982.

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