One of the most revered and sacred sites in Ukraine, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastic complex is a historical labyrinth of underground caves and catacombs, ancient mummies and a significant architectural collection of majestic cathedrals, towers, cultural icons and Scythian gold-domed churches. It holds distinctions as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine. The Orthodox Christian complex is both a tourist destination and a holy site for pilgrims from East Slavic countries.
Visiting Kiev Pechersk Lavra involves both underground and overground sightseeing, with the subterranean caves harbouring quaint chapels, religious relics and glass coffins holding more than 100 mummified monks. The surface area is home to the Gate Church of the Holy Trinity, remodelled in the 18th century and adorned with elaborate murals, as well the climbable Great Bell Tower and the ruins of the original Dormition Cathedral. The entire complex is a virtual museum of chalices, centuries-old textiles, crucifixes and precious metals, with an intriguing museum of miniatures by Russian artist Mykola Syadristy requiring a microscope to view the delicate and inconceivably small works of art.
Spread across lush, green hills above the Dnipro River in Kiev, Kiev Pechersk Lavra lies in the urban Pecherskyi District. Public transportation is abundant in Kiev, and a metro subway station sits just a couple of blocks from the entry point for the complex, with a trolley offering transportation for those who choose not to walk.
Recorded history of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra dates back to 1051, when the orthodox monk Anthony, founder of the Kievan Rus monastic way of life, moved underground and began doling out spiritual blessings and guidance. His devotees included members of the royal family, such as Prince Iziaslav I, who eventually gave the entire amount to the growing group of Antonite monks living in the caves.