Churches of Kyiv (Kiev)

Kyiv (Київ in Ukrainian and Киев in Russian) is home to some of the most uniquely beautiful churches in Europe. The Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches, with their golden domes and ornately decorated exteriors (and interiors), are quite different from the cathedrals and churches in western Europe.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery (Михайлівський Золотоверхий Cобор), dating from the 12th century, was destroyed in the 1930s by Joseph Stalin and rebuilt following Ukraine's independence in 1991 based on detailed drawings of the original.

Nearby is St. Sophia Cathedral (Софійський Собор), a complex of churches and religious structures dating to 1037 (though with many additions and renovations over the succeeding centuries). The cathedral is considered a masterpiece of the Ukrainian baroque style of architecture.

The smaller, but very ornate St. Andrew's Church (Андріївська Церква) was built in the mid-18th century in the Russian baroque style. Architect Bartolomea Rastelli, an Italian who founded the Russian baroque style, also designed many of the buildings in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

The most spectacular religious site in Kyiv is Pecherska Lavra (Печерська Лавра), the "Cave Monastery." Set in a wooded park high above the Dnipro (Dnieper) River, this 70 acre complex of churches and other religious structures dates from 1051 when two monks founded a monastery in the natural caves and built a church above it. Over succeeding centuries, and most recently after Ukrainian independence, dozens of ornate structures were built or restored. The Great Bell Tower of the monastery is visible for miles, especially from the river.