Pechersk Lavra Pechersk Lavra

Pechersk Lavra

Pechersk Lavra is considered one of the most important religious centers of the Orthodox world; it one of the most populat tourist destinations in Ukraine. With its cathedrals, monasteries and churches, Lavra remains the powerful center of Orthodoxy for millions of Orthodox Christians throughout Ukraine, Russia, and Belorussia.
The name of the monastery comes exactly from the caves: pechera in Ukrainian means cave, lavra in Greek means street. Pechersks Lavra is like a village with many buildings and streets.
Despite the persecution of Christians during the communistic era of Soviet history, the Pechersky Lavra Monastery has continued to maintain the centuries-old traditions of its 11th century founding fathers, Antony and Feodosy.
The Pechersk Monastery is comprised of complex caves, magnificent architecture, churches, and museums. Because of its great historical importance to Ukraine and to the rest of the modern world as well, the religious complex was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1990.


The monastery was originally founded by two monks - St. Anthony and St. Theodosius in 1051. Anthony was the first who settled here, soon other monks joined him and started to wide the caves, later when underground space could not house all community they started to construct overground buildings.
From the 70th of XI century in the monastery began intensive construction works, here was constructed Uspenskiy Cathedral, Troitskaya Church and refectory.
The monastery played a very important role in Ukrainian culture - the first printing-house was established here; many famous chroniclers, writers, scientists, painters, doctors lived and worked in the monastery. It was like a big factory – even people who lived nearby came every day to work here. In 1113 Chronicler Nestor wrote his Tale of Bygone Years - the main source of knowledge about the times of Kievan Rus.
After a great fire in 1718, began the restoration of damaged buildings and construction of other new buildings. Holy Dormition Cathedral and Troitskaya Church got its present-day baroque style, the monastery territory was surrounded by stone walls. The unique architectural ensemble of Lavra had been formed in the middle of the XVIII century. Most of the buildings preserved till our times. Kiev-Pechersk Lavra became the largest monastery from the former Kievan Rus, its total square was almost 30 hectares.
After Communist Party came to power in 1917, the monastery suffered hard times - it was closed and all its property had been nationalized, later there were opened to the public several museums.
In 1941 during World War II the Holy Dormition Cathedral had been blown up. Nobody knows who realized the blasting operations – the Germans or Soviet army.
In 1988 the territory of Far Caves with all overground buildings was returned to the new comunity of monks, in 1990 - the territory of Near Caves.

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What to see
As has been mentioned above, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery is a complex that is made up from various fascinating buildings and sights. Amongst the main and beautiful structures is:
  • Holy Trinity Church, constructed during the years 1106 – 1108, it is the main monastery church, decorated in breathtaking murals and paintings;
  • Belltower, located in the Upper Monastery. It was erected during the years 1731 to 1744; the 96-meter structure is home to a library, a massive clock and it still has three of its original bells on display;
  • St. Nicolas Church built in the 17th century;
  • St. Anne Church reconstructed in 1679;
  • All Saints’ Church which was built in 1696 to 1698;
  • Refectory Church constructed at the end of the 19th century and located on the grounds. It is still used as a dining room for monks, famous choir music performances, and for celebrating the most significant of religious holidays.
Also located in the Upper Monastery are two very interesting museums which deserves to be visited, it is abut:
  • The Museum of Jewelry - a beautiful collection of ornaments and jewelry which belonged to all the people of Ukraine throughout the country’s history. These people include: the Scythians, Khazars, Pechenegs, Sarmatians, and Ancient Slavs. Included in this collection is probably one of the most important pieces in Ukraine: the gold Scythian Pectoral, found during the excavation of a Scythian imperial tomb near the city of Odzhonikidze by Ukrainian archeologist Boris Mozolevskiy. The museum is also rich with other kinds of exhibitions of Christian and Jewish history within Ukraine, brought under one roof from various churches and synagogues around Ukraine.
  • Miniatures Museum - is the cozy museum of micro-miniatures, created by the famous Ukrainian artist Nikolay Sjadristy. In this collection are some of the smallest works of art in the world, all viewable under powerful magnifying lenses and bright lamps. What looks like a grain of rice is really an entire world of magic and wonder!
The Near Caves and Far Caves should also be visited, there can be found hundreds of archaeological artifacts and items that are in wonderfully preserved condition. The caverns are a very complex system of narrow underground corridors, about 1-1,5 metres wide and 2-2,5 metres high, along with numerous living quarters and underground chapels. The Far Caves where the monk Anthony had settled first, apparently grew, with numerous additions including corridors and a church. The Far Caves are about 280 meters long and 5-20 meters depth, its floor was covered with cast slabs in 1826. Later, the monk Anthony moved to a cave near the Upper Lavra, now called the Near Caves which are 228 meters long and 5-20 meters depth, in 1760 its floor was covered with cast slabs. There are 120 burials in the Lavra.
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