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St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv was created in the 11th century to rival Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and to symbolize ‘The New Constantinople’, the capital of the Christian principality of Rus, – UNESCO


“Designed to rival Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Kyiv’s Saint-Sophia Cathedral symbolizes the ‘new Constantinople’, capital of the Christian principality of Kyiv, which was created in the 11th century in a region evangelized after the baptism of St Vladimir in 988… Saint-Sophia Cathedral, located in the historic centre of Kyiv, is one of the major monuments representing the architectural and the monumental art of the early 11th century. The Cathedral was built with the participation of local builders and Byzantine masters during the reign of the Great Prince of Kyiv, Yaroslav the Wise, as the main Christian Church of the Kyivan Rus’ capital. The Cathedral has preserved its ancient interiors and the collection of mosaics and frescoes of the 11th century is unique for its integrity. Its masterpieces include the Pantocrator, the Virgin Orans, the Communion of the Apostles, the Deisis and the Annunciation. The architecture and monumental art of the Cathedral had a wide influence on the architecture and decoration of the Kyivan Rus’ temples. Monastic buildings constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Ukrainian Baroque style surround the Cathedral. The architectural ensemble includes the bell tower, Metropolitan’s house, the refectory, the Zaborovsky gate, the south entrance tower, the cells of cathedral elders and the seminary encircled by a stone wall. Over the centuries, the Cathedral and monastic buildings have expressed a unique harmony of architectural and natural forms, and national spirit and have held a significant place in the traditional historic landscape of Kyiv. ” (UNESCO)

And it is a very important fact in itself that Kyiv was viewed as “the second Constantinople” in the times when there was no Moscow yet. So Russia claiming its church can stay in Ukrainian cathedrals or that Constantinople allegedly has no right to be there is pure nonsense.

Actually, the many wars Moscow has been waging on Kyiv can be directly connected with Moscow’s desire to take Kyiv’s legacy. As Yale Prof. Timothy Snyder noted, it “was after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 that Muscovy espoused spiritual and political claims as the seat of Orthodoxy, the heir of Byzantium, and the successor of Kyiv Rus”. Why did the fall of Constantinople trigger such a reaction in Muscovy? The answer is – Constantinople had for a long time been viewed as ‘the Second Rome’, so after its fall, the crazy idea of Moscow becoming ‘the Third Rome‘ became the obsession of Muscovy’s rulers. But for that, Moscow needed the line of succession to Constantinople and only the history of Kyiv Rus could provide such a venue. That is the reason why Muscovy eventually renamed itself into ‘Russia’. Read more in Ukraine as part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth



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