In Khreshchatyk Street, Kiev, I boarded the bus number 20 until the entrance to the Monasteries of the Caves, o Pechersk Lavra, at about 3 kilometers distance. Then I walked to them.
According to one of the passengers of the bus, who helped me to find the Monastery of the Caves and the stop to get off the bus, it was founded in the XI century besides the Dnieper River.
In the complex there were museums, mummified monks, churches and subterranean labyrinths on two levels.
There was no electricity, I bought a candle and visited several cells, in some of them I was not allowed because a special ceremony was taking place for a formed group or family, and in other, the guardian, seeing that I made the sign of the cross as a catholic, instead of an orthodox, he discovered that I was not orthodox and expelled me from the cave.
I visited the museum, then a shop where they sell postcards of the Pecherk Lavra, candles, crucifixes, medals, small icons, and in general religious items.
I was very impressed by that visit.
The Museum of Micro Miniatures is a wonderful contrast to all the other sights at Pecherska Lavra. The miniatures are so unbelievably small and finely made so one has to wonder how any person can make anything like this. Camel caravans in the eye of a needle. Santa Maria sailship consisting of 256 pieces put together making the composition not larger than 3,85 mm long. Excellent paintings on poppy seeds cut into half. A rose branch, 0,05 mm thick, inserted in a human hair which is drilled along its lenght and polished to transparency. All this and lots more has been created by Mykola Syadristy.
There is only one thing I can say: try to get there and see it yourself!! It is really worth the 10 Hryvnia you pay for the admission.
Working hours 10.00 - 13.30; 14.30 - 17.00, closed Mondays.
Taking photos is not allowed.
All together there are four museums of this kind in the world, the other being in Moscow, Szentendre in Hungary, and also one in Andorra.
The building of the Uspensky church started in 1075 if we follow the Nestor Chronicle. The land and 100 Hryvnia in gold were given by prince of Kiev. The consecration took place in 1089. Sadly it was destroyed in 1941, but was reconstructed and ready for reconsecration in 2000. More then 8.500 kg of leaf gold had been used for the gilding works.
According to the Nestor Chronicle the starting off for the Pecherska Lavra, as we call the place today, was in 1051. That year St Anthony, a Greek, started digging the caves which later grew to a vaste complex of different caves where the monks lived their lives and were buried after their deaths. The climate in the caves has always been so dry and cool that the bodies were mumified by nature. They can still be seen.
The monastery developed rapidly. In the 12th century Lavra became a leading religious, spiritual, educational, and cultural center of Eastern Europe. It had icon-painting studios, a superb library, its own print shop, and a scriptorium where works of ancient and contemporary foreign writers were translated into Slavic.
The word lavra means a very large monastery, while pechery means cave.
There are now some 23 churches and shrines inside the walls of the complex. Most of them were built in the 17th and 18th centuries, however there is one church still standing which was built in the 12th century, the Troitska Overgate Church. The striking Bell Tower was built in 1731-45.
The most well known building on the precinct is the Uspensky Cathedral, see my next tip on that.
There are also a couple of museums worth seeing. I have tips on two of them as well.
Working hours everyday from 09.00 to 18.00.
Admission fee: 50 Hryvnia. Photos 100 Hryvnia extra (if my memory serves me right).
For the museums extra admission fees will apply.
The Book and Printing Museum is situated in one of the buildings in the back part of the Pecherska Lavra complex. It shows books and printings from the very old books of Kievan Rus till large religious books from the 18th - 19th centuries.
Admission fee 15 Hryvnia.
Don't miss the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, which are also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves. And don't miss the 1000 year old mummified monks 60 ft underground. An English speaking guide can be hired (~1.5 hours) for $25 on the left (you'll see an office) just inside the main entrance. I tipped the guide ~$20 (100 Hryvnya), since it wasn't certain that she received any of the $25 (she may have been working for tips, although she never indicated so). Tourist items, even postcards, aren't easy to find in Kiev (I found a few lovely postcards at a Post Office), but you will find many worthwhile items for sale here and there at the Pechersk Lavra (which covers a quite large area - many acres).
Vladimirskaya Gorka is a green park on the bank of the Dnipro River. It's a kind of romantic place where just married couples arrive. It's also a place where people celebrate graduation from school.
Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra topped with gilded domes is situated here.
Pecherska Lavra is possibly the greatest Christian monastery complex in the world. It was founded nearly a thousand years ago, in 1051, when the first cave chapels were excavated by Orthodox monks in the hills on the right bank of the River Dnieper. Over the centuries, magnificent churches, monastery buildings and belltowers were constructed above the network of cave chapels.
The main attractions of the Lavra are the Great Lavra Belltower and the Dormition Cathedral, both badly damaged in World War II, but now fully reconstructed. Other churches and cathedrals of the Lavra include the Refectory Church, the Church of All Saints, the Church of the Saviour at Berestove, the Church of the Exaltation of Cross, the Church of the Trinity, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin, the Church of the Conception of St. Anne and the Church of the Life-Giving Spring. The Lavra complex also contains the St. Nicholas Monastery, the Kiev Theological Academy and Seminary and the Debosquette Wall
Today this is one of only four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ukraine.
Lavra has been a center of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe since the 10th century. Lavra is a fully functional monestery with monks living there. There are various churches where you can witness the service, so be respectful, women must cover hair. It's a tradition to purchase a church candle, light it, pray for someone and place it near other candles. (The money basically is a donation to the church)
Although this has been featured on many travel books/websites, it did not feel like a tourist thing to do. Many pilgrims go there for discovering themselves.
Going through caves was pretty scary. Before you enter, buy a few church candles, because that will be your only light. The caves are absolutely dark, with mummies ecased in the glass caskets with icons of who they are above them. There are many people crying and kissing icons as you pass by. You cannot make any loud noise, absolutely no photography and women have to cover their head. There are 2 caves - Far and Near.
The Pechersk Lavra in Kiev is an amazing Christian Orthodox Monastery located slightly outside of Kiev. One of four UNESCO National Heritage sites in Ukraine, Pechersk Lavra is a MUST VISIT if in Kiev.
The lavra complex is made up of numerous buildings and churches. Perhaps the most interesting (they are ALL interesting) of them are the "caves monastery" where nearly 100 Orthodox monks are buried. Visitors descend into the caves with lit candles (no lights) and wonder around the narrow corridors that house the bodies of these holy figures. Devotees will stop and kiss the caskets of select monks and say a prayer. Others simply pass through in silence. The whole scene is all very surreal! I strongly reccomend a visit!
Admission fees are nominal.
this is a place that everyone who visits kiev should go to. set in over 25 hectares of land above the river dnipro it has been standing here since the 11th century. the area has lots of different churches which you can visit. some were detroyed during the war and by the soviet occupation although thos that were destroyed have been re built.
i would most definately advise getting a tour guide to take you round as i was there on my own on a sunday (by far the busiest day) and missed so much but i went back with a friend during the week and we got a guide which was much better. cost about 200 hry which included entry.
by far the highlight is going underground into the caves where you walk by candlight and you can see some bodies of ancient monks in glass topped coffins. the bodies are wrapped up however but you can see some of their hans and feet.
Kiev Pechersk Lavra, founded in the 11th century by the Greec Orthodox monk st. Antony, is one of the greatest worship centres in Eastern Europe, thanks to which Kiev is sometimes called the "Russian Jerusalem". It's an anormous size complex of over 80 buildings, located on 30ha area. However, not the buildings are the most important, but caves, which are the proper monastery.
There are two cave complexes: The Close Caves and the Far Caves (which are open just for worshipers). At the entrance to the caves you will buy a typical Orthodox thin candle (from 0,5hr), which will be your only light while walking down the caves. Inside you will see some old sarcophaguses and Orthodox saints' effigies. The special atmosphere creates also the fact, that it's still a worship centre (not only a tourist attraction), so you will see all those believers, focused and devoted to pray; kissing the icons and falling down on their knees.
Therefore you must behave with a strict dignity. You are not allowed to speak(!) and wear shorts (or short skirts); your arms and hair (according to the women) cannot be visible. And just don't behave too touristy.
The Close Caves have been digged in the 11th century and are located from 5 to 20m down. The lenght of the corridors (which are 2m high and 1m wide) is 228m. I don't recommand a visit if you are claustrophobic! However, the whole monastery complex is worht a visit because the churches are beautiful themself.
It's seriously amazing and unique!
Opening hours: 9.00-18.00
The last admission to the caves: 16.00
normal ticket - 20hr
students/children/seniors - 5hr
map of the whole complex (also in English) - 5hr
This church with its five gold-plated domes was built above “Economic” gate which led to the Economy Building of Pechersk Lavra. The interior with the impressive frescoes (see additional photos) was painted in 1906. Of particular interest was the arched densely painted entrance to the church with themes from city scenes (see additional photo)
It would be a sin not to go to Caves Monastery while in Kiev. The visit of this huge religious complex is one of the highlights in whole Ukraine. Expect to spend here at least 1/2 a day.
It was established in 11th century by greek monk St. Antoiny. With his followers he dug the whole underground system of caves and tunnels, which became their new home and palce of studying and worshipping.
Later, monastery spread also above ground, reaching the size of 28 hectars. It became the intelectual center of Kievan Russia. In several raids and fires the monastery was destroyed, but always rebuilt and it's still in use today.
The complex is devided in two parts - upper and lower. In lower you can visit the caves where still the mummies of the monks lie. Watch your head, if you are among the taller ones :-).
The entrance fee is 10 grivnas (students half price). It's recomended to drees properly - no shorts and sleeveless shirts.
The term “lavra” is used by the Orthodox Church to mean largest monastery. “Pechera” means cave in Ukranian, thus the name of the monastery. Monks worshiped and lived in these caves and are also buried within the caves. Even today their bodies remain perfectly preserved due to the cool temperatures and humid atmosphere of the caves.
There is a lot to see in the Pecherska Lavra Monastery including various churches, towers, miles of underground tunnels, ancient crypts, and museums.
I would recommend setting aside at least a half day, if not a whole day to fully explore this highly historical attraction.
Hours 10 am – 6 pm