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Article - Tour to Pechersk Lavra in Kiev

Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is an exceptional monastery, which is included to the list of UNESCO world  cultural heritage. Millions of tourists had visited Lavra for the last years. It is very interesting tour in Kiev.

History of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is long and fairly tragic. Kiev-Pechersk Lavra was firstly created in 1051, when a monk Antoniy had settled in that place in a hand-made cave on a hill near the Dnipro River in Kiev. Soon other monks joined him, all monks were living in caves, which they dug by themselves. Later when underground caves could not host all the community of monks the construction on the above-ground buildings started.

The name of the monastery comes accurately from the caves. The word «pechera» in Ukrainian means a «cave». The word «lavra» means status, only large and influential monasteries could get the status of Lavra. The size of the monastery had to be like a small town with streets (lavra means «street» in Greek).

Since the 70th of XI century the intensive building of the Pechersk monastery had begun; Uspenskiy Cathedral, Troitskaya Church and refectory were constructed. The monastery played a vital role in the Ukrainian cultural development. The first printing house was founded there, many famous chroniclers, writers, scientists, painters, artists and doctors lived and worked in Pechersk Monastery. In 1113 Chronicler Nestor wrote his «Tale of Bygone Years» («Povist vremennyh lit»), which was the main source of information about the times of Kievan Rus.

Unfortunately, the great fire of 1718 destroyed churches and cathedrals. After that the restoration of damaged building started coupled with the construction of the new ones. Holy Dormition Cathedral and Troitskaya Church were reconstructed in baroque style, which we can observe today. The monastery's territory was surrounded by stone walls. Thus, in the middle of the XVIII century the exceptional architectural ensemble of Lavra had been created. Nowadays, we still can see the biggest part of preserved architectural master pieces. Kiev-Pechersk Lavra became the largest monastery on the territory of former Kievan Rus, its total area was almost 30 hectares.

After the Communist Party came into power in 1917, hard times for the monastery had started. The Lavra was closed, and all its property had been nationalized. In some buildings of the Lavra soviet museums were created to promote soviet atheistic culture.

In 1941 during the World War II, the Holy Dormition Cathedral had been blown up by the explosion of a bomb. Up to now there are no exact facts who needed that explosion and with what purpose either Germans or Soviet side.

In 1988 the territory of Farer Caves with all above-ground buildings were returned to the newly created monk community; and in 1990 the territory of Nearer Caves was given back to the Lavra.

Caves in Lavra are the system of underground passages, which are divided into two directions - Farer and Nearer Caves. First Lavra Caves were mentioned in annals of 1051. First, caves were occupied by the monks who lived there, later passed away settlers of the monastery started to be buried in the caves. Above all, there are remained bodies of Chronicle Nestor, the author of the «Story of bygone years», Ilya Muromets, the Ukrainian epic hero, and the relics of imperishable Lavra's saints.

Moreover, hermit monks lived in some underground cells. They devoted their lives to pray. Small holes through which they got water and food had still remained in the walls of cave passages. There are legends and fables about the size of Lavra caves. In one it is said that underground passages stretched under the Dnieper River and also connected Lavra with other cave monasteries of Kiev and Chernigov.


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