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Kiev Pechersk Lavra

Kiev Pechersk Lavra translates into Monastery of the Caves. It is a troglodytic monastery located in the old part of Kiev sitting on the hill overlooking the Dniepr river. It was initially founded as a cave monastery in the early 11th century, by two hermit monks originating from Mount Athos in Greece. In general usage, the term lavra is a type of cave dwelling, where hermits monks abided. The term later evolved into a word for monastery.

The cave was located on Mount Berestov in modern day Kiev, and after gathering a number of disciples, the land was officially given to the order of monks by Prince Iziaslav I of Kiev. At this time, the construction of an actual monastery began with the help of architects from the city of Constantinople of the Byzantine Empire. Over time, more structures were added onto the monastery, including numerous bell towers, caverns and passageways, underground chapels and churches, and even cathedrals. The monastery served for a very long time as the main monastery of Russia.

Today, it is stilled used for its original monastic purpose by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and it is the residence of its leader, Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev. The monastery also serves partly as a museum. The large set of churches with golden domes, underground labyrinths and monastic buildings is one of the main attractions of Kiev, particularly the Great Lavra Bell Tower, the Church of the Savior at Berestov, the Far Caves, the Near Caves and the Gate Church of the Trinity, which serves as the access point to the Lavra is covered in rich baroque ornaments, and topped with a golden dome. Inside the church, mural paintings and a golden iconostasis form a beautiful décor. The Kiev Pechersk Lavra was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1990.

Tips

If you feel claustrophobic in tight spaces, it's recommended that you avoid visiting the caves.

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