Saint Sophia Cathedral


This view of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is from Souvenir of Kiev, an early 20th-century album showing the main sites of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine and at that time one of the most important cities of the Russian Empire. The name of the cathedral comes from the sixth-century Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) and means “Holy Wisdom,” rather than dedication to a particular saint. Designed as “the new Constantinople” to represent Eastern Christianity, Saint Sophia in Kiev was first constructed in the 11th century at the height of the power of Kievan Rus, a medieval polity within today’s Ukraine, and it was the major metropolitan church in Russia. It was completed in its present form 700 years later, after cycles of destruction and rebuilding. In this somewhat-idealized view, the cathedral is seen with the bell tower, the cathedral square, and the monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a 17th-century Cossack generally regarded as a Ukrainian national hero. The cathedral, together with the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra monastery, is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The 25 views in Souvenir of Kiev are collotypes, made using a chemically-based printing process widely employed before the invention of offset lithography.

Last updated: February 29, 2012