Second day in Kiev

Kiev Travel Blog

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St. Sophia Cathedral

I didn't get to sleep until after 3 last night, but somehow I'm awake at 7....  Must be those 40+++ !  (Actually it's getting closer to 50 ---)!!Anyway, I decided the best thing to do was to take a shower and make the most of a nice morning.  Once I was out of the shower, Ana and Michal were up and we agreed that M and I would go to a market to buy something for breakfast.  We found a supermarket about two blocks from our apartment. 

It was a nice market and we found plenty of good things for breakfast - juice, fresh rolls, butter, fruit, yogurt...   I was surprised to see that people here will pay three times as much for butter imported from France instead of butter produced in Ukraine.

St. Sophia Cathedral
  I opted for the Ukrainian version! The fresh fruit, dairy products, vegetables and meats that I tried were really great.  We also bought a 6 liter jug of water (the tap water is an interesting yellowish / brown tone! and we were advised to only use bottled water for drinking.) 

We headed back to the apartment with breakfast. Ana was ready, so we ate and then headed for St. Sophia's Cathedral.  We tried to see it yesterday but it was too late.  So, it will be our first stop today. 

St. Sophia's was built in the first half of the 11th century.  It was intended to be the main metropolitan church of Kyivan Rus (what this area was called before).

St. Sophia Cathedral
  It has had some modifications made to it over the centuries and it's present baroque aspect comes from reconstruction in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The interior is really spectacular.  It hasn't been changed since the 11th century and the beautiful frescoes on the walls - nearly a thousand years old - are beautiful.  Most all of the frescoes are religious, but there are some, in the north tower that are secular and depict scenes from life in the Byzantine Empire

You're not supposed to be taking pictures in here and one of my more daring travel companions is taking an illicit photo!  I hope we don't get kicked out of here!  No flash or anything, but they're really on the lookout for disobedient photo takers!  I understand the temptation - it's really magnificent in here, something you'd want to share with people back home.  At any rate, I think it's better to respect the rules.  

At the same time, this place isn't as spectacular (to me) as St.

In the grounds around the St. Sophia Cathedral
Michael's - maybe because this is more like a museum and St. Michael's has a more religious atmosphere inside.

I really enjoy looking at all of the icons here.  I wish I knew what all of the symbolism present in them means.  Surely the colors used have meanings - as must the way the figures are dressed and positioned.  There is a beautiful icon of the ascension of Jesus, one of Archdeacon Stephen and one of Archangel Michael that are really awesome.  If you ever go to this place you should check out the fantastic model of Kiev as it must have been many centuries ago. 

After the Cathedral we headed up the bell tower.  I have no problem with heights at all, but I have to admit that the climb up this tower is pretty intense.

The Caves Monastery
  The enormity of the empty space surrounding me - above, below, to the sides made me hold on tight to the (rather low) railings.  It would be pretty easy to fall here.  The tower is pretty on the outside, but the inside isn't anything special at all - it just affords some fantastic views of the city.

After the cathedral and bell tower we went into a museum with icons and other religious treasures and then went to check the gift and souvenir shops.  Ana bought some nice Christmas ornaments.  I saw a few nice things but nothing I was too excited about buying.  Then we continued on, back down to Khreschatyk Street to meet some friends.  We had a coffee at a terrace and then went to the metro to go to the Monastery of the Caves or Kiev Pechersk Lavra

I was only in three metro stations in Kiev, but what I saw is amazing.

St. Sophia
  I've never seen a subway like it (ok, admittedly I'm not a "subway specialist" but these amazingly deep tunnels, speedy escalators and the enormity of it were very impressive to me).  I've heard that Moscow's subway is really amazing too.

It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Caves Monastery.  Once we left the metro, the walk there was pleasant, through a park overlooking the river.  The monastery itself is beautiful - a group of impressive buildings founded in 1050 AD but rebuilt in 1720 after being sacked and burned.  It includes the Great Lavra Belltower that it nearly 100 meters tall and was the tallest freestanding belltower in the world when it was built.  

There are a series of museums with icons and archaeological treasures which were interesting as well.

View from the belltower at the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.
  It was curious to see people worshiping the icons in the museum.  I need to read more about the Orthodox faith.  I would like to better understand what I am seeing!  After looking at different parts of the monastery, we headed for the caves to see what that would be like. We had to stand in line for about 20 minutes and then were able to enter the series of whitewashed caves.  They're kind of dim on the inside and some people were holding beeswax candles which smelled nice.  The caves are lined with icons.  There are about 200 yards of underground passages which hold many glass coffins which hold the mummified remains of monks.  At first I had some doubts about what all of this was, but then I noticed that on some of them a hand, foot or leg is exposed.  People were praying at these coffins and the people behind us were singing softly.  It was an eerie surreal sort of place and if there had been fewer people it would even have seemed spooky. 

We stayed in the monastery until it closed, then went back to our apartment before heading for dinner.

Interior of the belltower. It seemed even more immense to me on the inside than it does on the outside.
I was pretty tired after a lot of running around all day and didn't stay out too late.  My daring, illicit-picture taking travel buddy had a much more interesting night, but that's another story!!!  ;-)

 

 

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St. Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Cathedral
St. Sophia Cathedral
In the grounds around the St. Soph…
In the grounds around the St. Sop…
The Caves Monastery
The Caves Monastery
St. Sophia
St. Sophia
View from the belltower at the St.…
View from the belltower at the St…
Interior of the belltower.  It see…
Interior of the belltower. It se…
Going up the belltower.
Going up the belltower.
View of the Cathedral from the bel…
View of the Cathedral from the be…
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower. The Churc…
View from the belltower. The Chur…
Going up the belltower.
Going up the belltower.
Another view of St. Sophias cathe…
Another view of St. Sophia's cath…
A monument on the cathedrals grou…
A monument on the cathedral's gro…
Detail of the exterior of the bell…
Detail of the exterior of the bel…
We had to stand in line to get tic…
We had to stand in line to get ti…
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower.
View from the belltower.
Last shot of the stairs! The raili…
Last shot of the stairs! The rail…
View of the Dnieper River as we he…
View of the Dnieper River as we h…
View of the Dnieper River as we he…
View of the Dnieper River as we h…
Me! The caves monastery is in the …
Me! The caves monastery is in the…
View of the Dnieper River as we he…
View of the Dnieper River as we h…
The Caves Monastery
The Caves Monastery
my travel buddies! Checking out th…
my travel buddies! Checking out t…
In the Kiev Metro
In the Kiev Metro
The tunnels in this metro are the …
The tunnels in this metro are the…
Kiev Metro
Kiev Metro
Some ceramic tiles that decorate o…
Some ceramic tiles that decorate …
Exterior - Metro Station.
Exterior - Metro Station.
Caves Monastery
Caves Monastery
Caves Monastery
Caves Monastery
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - main entranc…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - main entran…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Great Lavra …
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Great Lavra…
There were lots of flowering trees…
There were lots of flowering tree…
There were lots of flowering trees…
There were lots of flowering tree…
There were lots of flowering trees…
There were lots of flowering tree…
There were lots of flowering trees…
There were lots of flowering tree…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monast…
Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monas…
Kiev
photo by: Biedjee