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Desyatynna Church ruins

Desiatynna Tserkva also known as Church of the Dormition of the Virgin is more commonly referred to as The Church of the Tithes. The name derives from the fact that Vladimir the Great, grand prince of Kiev and ruler of the mediaval polity of Kievan Rus', allocated one tenth of his assets to built and maintain the first stone church in the state. The construction was carried out by local and Byzantine workers in memory of the baptism of Kievan Rus'. The church was completed in 989 and it served as a crypt for the remains of Vladimir's grandmother, the first Christian ruler of Kievan Rus', for his remains and those of his wife.

The church was damaged by a fire ca. 1017, but an extant structure supposed to reproduce the dimensions and exterior appearance of the original church was built in 1036. Then again, during the 13th century Mongol invasion, the church suffered more damage and was forgotten for the next few centuries. The Orthodox Church remained a source of identity for the Ukrainian people but it wasn't until the 17th century that Metropolitan of Kiev, Petro Mohyla initiated the excavation of the ruined temple. Later, in the 19th century, historians, researchers and scientists conducted extensive archeological digs. They found fragments of a mosaic floor, a fresco, the remains of the foundation, and several tombs. These findings sparked the interest of the Russian administration who ordered that a new stone Church of the Tithes be built, but the Soviet authorities completely destroyed it in 1935.

A controversial plan to rebuild the church is under consideration. On the one hand, proponents of the reconstruction claim that the church bore an important historical and political significance in the history of the Slavic people. On the other hand, opponents state that there aren't any documented descriptions nor depictions of the original church. They add that even excavations were unable to determine the precise layout of its foundation, and that the new building is likely to be in disharmony with the neighboring St. Andrew's Church.

Tips

The ruins are near the bottom end of Andrew's Descent. You can easily squeeze in a visit of the ruins after having seen Saint Andrew's church and gone down the Descent.

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