St. Sophia cathedral is one of the leading attractions of Zhitomir region. Even though the city has always been an Orthodox settlement, there are still plenty of Catholic churches there. It happened because of the time when Zhitomir was captured by Lithuanians in 1320 and has been part of several Catholic states since then.
It is believed that Zhitomir was founded in 884 to honor the warrior of Dir and Askold Princes. However, there are other plausible theories. For example, the ancient Slavic tribe of Zhitichi could possible contribute to the formation of Zhitomir.
Zhitomir was often part of various states. In 1444 it was one of 15 largest Polish-Lithuanian cities that were given the Magdeburg Law. It gave Zhitomir the independence and the right to create its own government authorities and Coat of Arms. In 1667 after the Truce of Andrusovo Kiev became part of the Russian Empire, but Zhitomir stayed under Polish ruling. It became the turning point in the history of the city: a former provincial town became the political and administrative centre of Volyn area, which obviously contributed to its development.
In 1731 Bishop C. Ozhiga started the construction of a majestic Catholic cathedral in Zamkovaya square. Twenty years later the construction was completed, and Zhitomir citizens could finally observe the beautiful church that combined the features of Late Renaissance and Baroque remarkably well.
The façade of the church is separated in two tiers, and the rood is topped with lean towers covered in rustication. On the north-west from the church there is a 26-meter bell tower. The church walls are made of brick and are up to 2 meters thick. On one of the pillars there is a bas-relief created by a composer and musician Y. Zarebsky. The image of the church is enhanced by Tuscan and Ionic orders.
The church was reconstructed in the XIX century in the classicism style. However, the interior was left unaltered, as the paintings and the stucco have unique cultural value. Nowadays Zhitomir church is a remarkable attraction for tourists, but at the same time it is still functioning. Church service is held there on major Catholic holidays.
Address of the St. Sophia church: Zhitomir, Kafedralnaya street, 12.