fot. Rbreczko,, licencja: CC BY-SA 4.0

St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev inscribed on UNESCO list of endangered sites

Several of Ukraine’s precious buildings have made it onto the list of endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include the St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, monastery buildings and the entire foundation of the historic centre of Lviv

The inclusion on the list of endangered UNESCO World Heritage sites is expected to make Ukraine eligible to apply for additional funds for technical protection and restoration of the monuments. The UNESCO organisation is aware of the risk of damage to the sites due to the ongoing war, which is why it is so important to draw attention to the problem of preserving the valuable and old architectural fabric in the face of the crisis

UNESCO reports that 270 cultural sites in Ukraine have been damaged since Russian troops entered Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The mere inclusion of new sites on the World Heritage List does not guarantee that buildings will not be destroyed, but it is important for legal reasons. The deliberate destruction of cultural property can be considered a war crime. Earlier, UNESCO listed the historic centre of Odessa as a World Heritage Site threatened by war. In early July, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Odessa was damaged by rocket fire

Saint Sophia Cathedral itself (Sophia Cathedral or Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom) operates as a state museum. It was already inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1990, but this year the inscription was extended to include the list of sites threatened by war

A temple on this site of Kiev already existed in the 10th century. In 1011, the construction of a large Byzantine-style temple began. Until the 13th century, it was the most important church in the city. However, it was damaged by Tartar incursions. At the beginning of the 17th century, on the initiative of Peter Moghila, the church was rebuilt in Baroque style. The Italian architect Octaviano Mancini was involved in the design work

Building in 1911, photo by Gudshon and Gubchevsky, 1911, public domain

In the centuries that followed, the complex was enlarged to include a bell tower, the Zborovsky gate, the Metropolitan’s house and other smaller buildings. Saint Sophia Cathedral has three distinctive naves dating from the medieval period and two additional naves at each side. The latter were built in the modern period. The roof is topped with thirteen domes

Inside, visitors can see frescoes and mosaics dating from the 11th and 12th centuries by Byzantine and Ruthenian artists

source: UNESCO

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