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Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra - is one of the earliest, by time, monasteries established in Kievan Rus, and it`s area is almost 30 hectares. There are about 100 buildings located on the territory, 42 of which are considered unique. Most of buildings of the Monastery are dated ХII-ХIII centuries and perfectly exemplify Ukrainian Baroque in architecture. The monastery of Pechersk had given the orthodox world 150 saints entreasuring imperishable relics of 119 of them in its sacred caves.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was founded in 1051 by Reverend Anthony, who had settled down therein in the cave. Soon his adherents joined him and the monastery quickly grew up from the cave. Preeminently the caves gave a name to the monastery, and the name of “Lavra” assumed a tittle given to the most revered monasteries which approached the small towns with streets by their size. (tr. from Greek "lavra" - street). The main and first stone temple in the territory of Lavra - The Assumption Cathedral was built in 70th of XI century and then the Troitska Nadvratna Church and Trapezna Church.

The monastery influenced the growth of Ukrainian culture - construction of temples advanced the skills of architects and artists, there was established the first typography is Kievan Rus. The famous chroniclers, writers, scientists, artists, doctors, and publishers lived and worked in Lavra. There`s where, nearby 1113, Nestor the chronicler had written «The Tale of Bygone Years» - the principal source of modern knowledge of the Kievan Rus.

Numerous ordeals fell to Kyiv Pechersk Lavras lot; it was ruined and plundered by Horde in 1240. Most of monks were killed, some of them managed to escape. After these events true information about the monastery had been lost until 14 century when it was built up and even became a tomb for princes and other nobility. But at the end of the century it was plundered and burned again by the Crimean Khan Mengli I Giray. In 16 century, despite of hindrance arising in view of Catholicity of a part of Ukraine, the monastery survived. Even felling from power and glory, the Kyiv-Pechersk monastery remained a mental and cultural-educational stronghold. The title of Lavra was given to it in 1688. In 1720 the reconstruction of the monastery begun. This time is considered as baroque of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Nearly at the same time the Great Lavra Bell Tower was raised and considered the highest building in Kyiv. In 19 century Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra already included 6 monasteries: Main (at Great church), Near Caves, Far Caves, the Health, Kitayivska Heath and Golosiyivska Pustyn`. Consequently Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra formed as the unique architectural complex in the middle of XVIII century and it basically remained the same till our time.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra became the largest monastery in all Kievan Rus which area is almost 30 hectare. Many of Russian sovereigns Peter the 1st , Catherine the Great and Nicolas the 2nd visiting Lavra were blessed by the prior and donated golden crosses, lampions and liturgical books decorated with diamonds. After communists came into power in 1917 the monastery went through difficult times and all its property was declared a property of people, then it was closed and after a while opened as a museum. In 1941 during World War II, the Assumption Cathedral was blown up under rather enigmatical circumstances. In Soviet time the Germans were accused of this crime.

In 1988 after a long post-war difficult life, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was returned the territory of Far Caves and later in 1990 – Near Caves. The first annalistic mentions of caves fall to 1051. Primarily, monks lived in the caves, later the dyed settlers of the monastery were buried there. In particular imperishable relics of many Pechersk saints are lying there, among them Nestor the chronicler – the author of «The Tale of Bygone Years», the epic hero Illia Muromets and many others. The recluses who had dedicated their lifes to prays lived in some underground cells and through small windows they received water and meal. In church tradition imperishable relics named remains and even the ethymology of a word reminds of powerful force and good fortune of Sacred Spirit.

Imperishable relics of saints can be found in some monasteries, but Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra entreasures 120 relics that makes the monastery unique among other sanctuaries of the orthodox world.

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