Kirillovskaya Church

This six-pillar, cross-domed temple is one of the oldest surviving on the territory of the former ancient Russian state. The church in the name of Saints Cyril and Athanasius was built after the ascension of the Chernigov prince Vsevolod Olgovich to the Kiev throne in 1139 on the outskirts of the city – in the village of Dorogozhychi, next to which there was an intersection of numerous roads, from where, including the crossing of the Pochaina River, the road to Chernigov began. This was the main cathedral of the Kirillovsky Monastery, apparently intended to become the family tomb of the Olgovichi – just as the countryside Vydubitsky Monastery, and Izyaslavich – Mikhailovsky Golden-Domed Monastery. Kirillovskaya Church became the family tomb of the Chernigov princes Olgovich. In 1179, Vsevolod Olgovich’s wife, Maria Mstislavovna, daughter of Mstislav the Great, was buried here. In 1194, the Kiev prince Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich, the hero of “The Tale of Igor’s Campaign,” was buried in the Cyril Church.

After the collapse of Kievan Rus, the temple was repeatedly repaired and rebuilt. The four side domes were completed in the 17th century by Hetman Samoilovich, Konstantin Ostrozhsky. After the fire of 1734, the temple was reconstructed in the Ukrainian Baroque style under the leadership of the famous Kyiv architect Grigorovich-Barsky. The reconstruction mainly affected the vaults and side domes; a pediment was added above the entrance; windows and portals were decorated with stucco decoration. Under the supervision of Grigorovich-Barsky, stone monastery buildings were built near the church in 1748-1760. Of these, part of the fence with a corner turret has been preserved, but the bell tower was demolished during Soviet times.

In the 18th century, by decree of Catherine the Second, the Kirillovsky Monastery was abolished. A hospital was created on the territory of the monastery premises, and the walls of the church from the inside were completely plastered and whitewashed. In the 60s of the 19th century, during renovation work, an ancient fresco was discovered under the plaster. And already in 1880-1884, under the guidance of art historians, work began on clearing the ancient frescoes in the temple, and the lost fragments of ancient murals were updated using the technique of oil painting. About 30 students and teachers of the Kiev drawing school of Nikolai Murashko were involved in the restoration work, among whom are now classics of Ukrainian painting: Ivan Izhakevich, Ivan Seleznev, Sergei Kostenko, Nikolai Pymonenko and others, as well as 10 students of the Imperial Academy of Arts, among whom was no one then unknown Mikhail Vrubel. Vrubel worked in Kyiv from May to November 1884. He painted the images of “Archangel Gabriel” from the Annunciation scene, “The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem”, “The Descent of the Holy Spirit” (in the choir), “Angels with Labars”, half-figures of Christ, the heads of the prophets Moses and Solomon. Also for the marble iconostasis of the temple, Vrubel painted the icons “St. Athanasius”, “The Virgin and Child”, “Jesus Christ” and “St. Cyril”. The artist painted the images during his trip to Italy in 1884-1885. The icons are painted in oil on zinc plates.

With the advent of Soviet power, all the monastery buildings were nationalized and given to the Kyiv psychoneurological dispensary, the bell tower was destroyed. The St. Cyril Church itself was declared a historical and cultural museum in 1929, which later became part of the Sophia of Kiev nature reserve. In the 1950s, during excavation work under the temple, an underground passage was discovered leading to numerous cave burials. But 10 years later, the entrance to the caves was blocked with stones and filled with concrete. These forced measures were taken after one of the walls of the St. Cyril Church developed a through crack. The result of the work to strengthen the foundation was the actual conservation of the dungeons.
Currently, the St. Cyril Church is not only a museum as part of the Sophia of Kiev national reserve, but since 1995 it has also been an active temple of the UOC MP. On June 14, 2011, the parish was transformed into the St. Cyril Monastery.

Where is St. Cyril Church located?

Elena Teligi Street, 12
(044) 468-11-26, 463-62-00
10:00-18.00 (excursions)
Sat: 16:30 all-night vigil, Sun: 09:15 liturgy
In the Church of St. Basil the Great at the St. Cyril Monastery:
Mon-Sun: 16:30 evening service, Mon-Sun: 07:00 Midnight Office, Mon-Sun 07:30 liturgy
Kirillovskaya street, 103
044 468 02 12