St.Andrew's Church during WWII. The dome. The 7th of May, 2007. Old picture of the church.
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They said Kyiv was founded three times. According to the ancient chronicles, once upon a time there were three brothers named Kyi, Shchek and Khoriv who founded the city on the hills above the Dnipro River.
It was a legendary foundation (recent archaeological excavations have revealed evidence that suggests that there might be a grain of truth in this legend). The other legend says that one of the Apostles, St. Andrew, St. Peter's brother, arrived at the place where Kyiv was to spring several centuries later, erected a cross on the top of a hill and announced in advance that a mighty city would sprawl over several hills and dales along the river boasting many beautiful churches.
Historians doubt whether St.Andrew really did travel from the far away Palestine to the hilly banks of the Dnipro.
The foundation of the city took place sometime in the 5th century AD. The ancient chronicles say that the cross erected by St. Andrew was preserved and was seen as late as 13th century when a wooden church was built on the hill where this cross had once stood. The church was called Vozdvizhenska (the Church of the Erection of the Cross).
The place was - and is - indeed marvelous. The top of Starokyivska hill with some clinking springs. The Dnipro river is in the bottom, as well as Podol.
In the centuries that followed, full of wars and fires, the Vozdvizhenska Church perished. In 1744 the Empress of the Russian Empire (of which Kyiv was a part then) visited the ancient city. Kyiv needed a new church - for Her Majesty.
The plan of the church was made by the genius architect of the 18th c. - the Italian master Bartolomeo Rastrelli which is famous by his palaces in St.Peterburg and its suburbs. The construction took place in 1747-1753 under the direction of Moscow architect I.F.Michurin.
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Michurin decided to build something that would serve a reliable foundation and at the same time could be of some use apart from purely constructional. That's why we can see now a two-storied building squatting right under the majestic church like a pedestal. Michurin also introduced a drainage system which has kept functioning ever since.
It took six years to erect the church and fifteen more to decorate its interior.
When you walk inside, you cannot help being impressed by the lavishness and at the same graceful beauty of the interior decorations, and looking at all these splendours one stops wondering why it took so long to decorate the church with paintings and stucco work.
The golden-red iconostasis (a wooden partition with tiersof icons in it separating the altar from the rest of the Orthodox church) rises high into the air. It is a piece of excellent workmanship, one of the best in the 18th century Ukraine.
The iconostasis and the pulpit were made in St. Petersburg and then brought to Kyiv to be installed in the church, but it does not make much difference since most of the craftsmen engaged in making the iconostasis and pulpit in St. Petersburg were ethnic Ukrainians anyway the icons were painted in Kyiv.
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The exterior displays richness of decor. The walls and the domes are articulated through pilasters and Corinthian (in the first tier) and Ionic (in the second) columns. The basement, the walls and the drums of the domes are ornamented with intricately profiled cornices. The lucames are framed with lavish stuccowork, and the pediments feature wrought-iron cartouches bearing the monogram of Russian Empress Elizabeth. The picturesque effect is enhanced by bright coloring: the white columns, pilasters and cornices stand out against the turquoise background of the walls; the capitals and wrought-iron cartouches are gilded. Winding gilded garlands adorn the domes, which are painted dark-green.
The church was consecrated in 1767. The beauty of the church and of the place itself where it sits, solemn religious ceremonies attracted a lot of people who came to worship and enjoy the sight.
St. Andrew's Church has survived the Bolshevik atheism with few losses and little damage to both the exterior and interior but the cross of St. Andrew disappeared in the turbulent years of the revolution of 1917 and the Civil War that followed. After Ukraine regained its independence in 1917, the “stylobate” house under the church was put to a proper use — now it houses the Kyiv Religious Academy and Seminary.
The church itself is still "a museum" but one hopes that soon enough the religious services will resume in the church and it will once again acquire its proper status. St. Andrew's Church is a true architectural marvel and it would be futile to give it justice bytrying to describe the exquisite gracefulness of its shape. One has to see it with one's own eyes. It is unique in its design and there is not a single one like it anywhere else in the world. Could it be that it has attained an ideal?
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