Kiev Pechersk Lavra: Lower Lavra

Kiev Pechersk Lavra, founded in 1051, is an Orthodox cave monastery and a collection of several historic green and white churches with golden domes. It’s divided into two sections: Upper Lavra and Lower Lavra. It’s also inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site along with St. Sophia Cathedral.

My visit to Kiev Pechersk Lavra started by jumping on the metro and riding it to the Dnipro stop on the Red Line. From there, it was a pleasant walk along the Dnipro River to my left. The forested Askold’s Grave Park and later Slavy Park were to my right.

Dnipro River in Kiev, Ukraine

Dnipro River

I cut inside a bit and found my way to the back gates of the monastery at Lower Lavra. Dnipro probably wasn’t the best metro stop to use, but it worked. You might want to use Arsenalna for your visit.

Entrance to Lower Lavra at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Entrance to Lower Lavra

Just outside the gates is the Church of Our Lady of the Life-Giving Spring. It was built in 1913 and restored in 2001.

Church of Our Lady of the Life-Giving Spring at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of Our Lady of the Life-Giving Spring

Church of Our Lady of the Life-Giving Spring at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of Our Lady of the Life-Giving Spring

After entering the gates I found myself in Lower Lavra where the famous caves are located. I peeked into the Chapel of the Spring of Theodosius before walking through the grounds to a stairway leading up to the caves.

Chapel of the Spring of Theodosius at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Chapel of the Spring of Theodosius

Lower Lavra at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Lower Lavra

Lower Lavra at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Lower Lavra

Stairway to the Near Caves at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Stairway to the Near Caves

At the top of the stairway is the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a small bell tower, and a great view of Lower Lavra and the river. Behind the church is the monastery garden.

Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Bell tower at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Bell tower

Lower Lavra at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Lower Lavra

Garden at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Garden

I visited the Near Caves, which are the most interesting part of the monastery. The entrance is located next to the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The caves are about 383m long and between 5m and 20m deep. Before entering, you buy a candle and walk into the caves past the bodies of several saints. Some pious Orthodox Christians will stop and say a prayer at each one and kiss the coffin before moving on. Being a very sacred yet narrow place with many people moving through at once, photography is not allowed. It can take a while to get through the cave system, and if you are claustrophobic or don’t like being in dark places, it might not be the right place for you.

Entrance to the Near Cavesat Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Entrance to the Near Caves

Although I hadn’t finished with Lower Lavra at that point, I went to visit Upper Lavra and then left the complex for a while to go see Rodina Mat. On my way there, I visited three churches just outside the Western Gate of the complex. They were the Church of Theodosius of the Caves, the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh, and the Church of the Resurrection.

Church of Theodosius of the Caves at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of Theodosius of the Caves

Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh

Church of the Resurrection at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of the Resurrection

Church of the Resurrection at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of the Resurrection

When I returned to Kiev Pechersk Lavra to complete my visit of Lower Lavra, I entered through the Western Gate. I then had to walk down a long path before reaching the main part of the complex.

Western Gate at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Western Gate

Path from the Western Gate at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Path from the Western Gate

Path to the Western Gate at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Path to the Western Gate

I then came to the former Church of Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Suffer, which was being used as a small store. Then it was a long walk down a covered path to the rest of Lower Lavra.

Church of Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Suffer at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Church of Our Lady of the Joy of All Who Suffer

At the end of the path I found myself facing the Refectory Church and its bell tower. I made my way to the church, passing by a statue of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Refectory Church and bell tower at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Refectory Church and bell tower

Bell tower at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Bell tower

Saints Cyril & Methodius statue at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Saints Cyril & Methodius statue

I took a quick walk through the church and the adjacent cemetery.

Refectory Church at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Refectory Church

Refectory Church at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Refectory Church

Cemetery at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Cemetery

Cemetery at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Cemetery

In front of the church, I was able to get a great look at Upper Lavra and the office of the Kiev Metropolis.

View of Upper Lavra at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

View of Upper Lavra

Office of the Kiev Metropolis at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Office of the Kiev Metropolis

Finally, I walked to the Brotherhood of the Caves where the Far Caves are located. They’re not as big as the Near Caves but similar.

Brotherhood of the Caves at Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

Brotherhood of the Caves

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