Kiev , Ukraine
St Sophia Cathedral
The cathedral’s name comes from the 6th-century Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (meaning Holy Wisdom, and dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God rather than a specific saint named Sophia). According to a less popular theory, its model was the 13-domed oaken Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod (ca. 989), which Yaroslav I the Wise determined to imitate in stone as a sign of gratitude to the citizens of Novgorod who had helped him secure the Kievan throne in 1019.
The first foundations were laid in 1037, but the cathedral took two decades to complete. The structure has 5 naves, 5 apses, and (quite surprisingly for Byzantine architecture) 13 cupolas. It is surrounded by two-tier galleries from three sides. Measuring 37 to 55 m (121 to 180 ft), the exterior used to be faced with plinths. On the inside, it retains mosaics and frescos from the eleventh century, including a dilapidated representation of Yaroslav’s family, and the Virgin Orans.
Originally the cathedral was a burial place of the Kievan rulers including Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich and of course the cathedral’s founder Yaroslav I the Wise, although only the latter’s grave survived to our days
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