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.
After exploring the Near Caves in Lower Lavra, I made my way to the walled part of the monastery at Upper Lavra. Here, you have a choice of either visiting the grounds only, or the grounds, exhibits, and churches. I paid 50 UAH for the full experience and an extra 100 UAH for a photo pass (well worth it to take photos inside the churches). A visit to the grounds only was only 3 UAH. There were several museums on the grounds, but none of them really interested me.
I entered the complex near the iconography school and walked down a path next to the retaining wall with huge supports spanning overhead. At the end, I found myself at the back of the Uspenskij Cathedral.
The Uspenskij Cathedral was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1240 and later reconstructed. One side contained an exhibition while the other side was built around an older church.
Next door is the Trapeznaya Church (Refectory Church). It was built between 1893 and 1895 when there were over 1,000 monks living at the monastery.
In front of the cathedral and Trapeznaya Church is the symbol of the monastery that can be seen from miles away, the Great Lavra Bell Tower. It was built in 1731 and stands 96.5m high. A bell that was once used in the tower is on display out in front.
Next, I took a walk to the All Saints Church, which also functions as a northern gate to the monastery. It was built in 1698 and is filled with beautiful frescoes. The wooden iconostasis was carved in the 17th century.
Next to the All Saints Church was the School of Culture, and on the other side of the gate is the Church of the Saviour at Berestove, which was built in 1113. It’s not part of the monastery complex but is included in the UNESCO listing.
Heading back into the complex, I decided to take a stroll through the peaceful grounds. O walk past some impressive buildings and past the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker before I paid a visit to the Trinity Gate Church.
The Trinity Gate Church was the absolute highlight of the monastery for me. It was originally built in 1108 as part of the fortification of the monastery and functioned as its main entrance. It’s since been remodeled several times and is a great example of Ukrainian Baroque architecture.
The interior of the church is beyond incredible. The detailed frescoes were painted in the 1730s and 1740s by artists from the monastery’s iconography school and depict biblical scenes.
The chandelier was installed in 1725, while the woodwork was carved and painted in the 18th century.