St. Sophia Cathedral
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Museum ST. SOPHIA CATHEDRAL
Plan of museum
ST. SOPHIA CATHEDRAL
Architecture and murals
- Plan, Ground floor
- other details
Sarcophagus of Yaroslav the Wise
- Plan, First floor
ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS OF THE 18TH CENTURY
Cells of the Cathedral Elders
South Entrance Tower
First Rus library
BRANCHES OF THE MUSEUM
Upon mounting the tower stairs to the first floor, the visitor reaches the lofts of St. Sophia Cathedral. The lighting and opulence here are in sharp contrast with the dimly lit upper landings on the tower staircases.The west section of the lofts was re-built in the 18th and 19th centuries. The north and south sections fully retain original medieval architectural form. They extend from west to east, and look out upon the cathedral proper through wide arcades. In olden times they contained chapels at the eastern ends.
PLAN OF ST. SOPHIA CATHEDRAL, First floor
KEY TO PLAN
The west sections are spacious and well-lit chambers each having a central cluster column upon which rest the wall arches which support the four small cupolas.
The grandeur and richness of the lofts are a dis-tinitive feature of St. Sophia Cathedral which indicate the direct influence of the tastes of the prince and his court on the cathedral's architecture. In the lofts survive an interesting series of fresco compositions subordinated to a single conception. As the prince and his family and their retinue received holy communion in the lofts at their own credence-tables, the subjects of the murals here are linked with the mystery of the Eucharist.
Lofts. Erescos in the south-west cupola:
Lofts. North wall. Diagram showing frescos arrangement:
Lofts. South wall. Diagram showing frescos arrangement:
In the north loft, opposite the triple arcade over the north arm of the transept, the frescos depict two evangelistic scenes: The Last S upper and beneath it The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (the lower scene is not fully preserved, fragments of the 19th-century oil paintings on both sides of the frescos do not correspond to the early murals in subjects). On the west wall, we find The Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace and, on its right, Abraham and the Angels (a prototype of the Trinity).
In the south loft, opposite the triple arcade over the transept and on both sides of the door, is the fresco The Miracle in Cana (the miracle of turning water into wine). In the west part of the loft there are two frescos: Abraham Meets the Three Strangers and Abraham Offers Up Isaac.
Abraham Meets the Three Strangers:
Abraham Offers Up Isaac:
Besides these large compositions, the lofts contain well-preserved fresco medallions with images of the archangels in the vaults of the cupolas. All the surfaces of the central cluster columns are decorated with rich ornamentation.
In various places in the lofts there are also fragments of 18th-century oil paintings: "The Ancient of Days" on the arch in the north loft, and on the column the portrait of Bishop Vlasiy; at the south end of the west loft- Lot and His Daughters, The Last Judgement, The Deluge. In the west section there are 19th-century paintings on the wall and the vaults.
"The Ancient of Days". Detail. Oil. 18th century:
In the old days, there were exits from the lofts: onto the first-storey gallery over the inner cloister below, and from there onto an open terrace over the outer cloisters below. After the reconstruction carried out at the turn of the 18th century, the upper galleries and open terraces were replaced by new enclosed premises. At the present time, these are exhibition halls with exposed masonry that tells about the original architectural forms. Vaults of the first floor galleries have recently been discovered in the south hall.
This visit to the exhibition halls off the lofts finishes our tour of the interior of St. Sophia Cathedral. The visitor may then pass on to the architectural memorials of the 18th century in the museum grounds.
However, do not hurry to part with St. Sophia for good. Come again to visit its beautiful interior and to feast your eyes on the beauty of the architectural lines, the sweeping curves of the arcades and vaults. Go around all the outside of the building, feel the powerful ancient walls, look at the unique designs of the medieval masonry. You will find new treasure of beauty and form, new depths and facets of this beautiful creation built by the hands of Old Rus artisans. Remember that it became a model for many generations of Old Rus architects. Remember that Kiev's St. Sophia Cathedral represents one of the most brilliant pages in the history of Ukrainian and world culture.
Virtual tour around the museum’s grounds of Saint Sophia Cathedral