The main temple of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra – Assumption Cathedral (Uspensky Cathedral) is located in the centre of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, in front of the Saint Gates, in the middle of the central square of the Upper Lavra. This temple, one of the most ancient in Kievan Rus, has a special place in the life of Orthodox Church and in native culture. Its creation started a new stage in the history of Old Russian architecture and icon-painting. According to the tales of Nestor the Chronicler, the stone church Uspenia was based in 1073.
The foundation and building of the temple was accompanied with a number of miraculous events, showing God’s grace and intercession of Mother of God, who is the celestial patron of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. The place for the building was pointed by divine signs to st. Antoniy. The land and 100 grivnas of gold were sacrificed by prince of Kiev Svyatoslav. The great contribution in the building was performed by voivode Shimon (Simon).
The building works of Assumption Cathedral started in 1075. In the creating of the church’s plan and in the making of the basis took part the Byzantine architects called by the Virgin Mary. According to the tales of Paterik the money for the building were enough for three years. The erection of the temple was finished in 1077.
15 years later in 1088 the Assumption Cathedral was ready for the consecration. It was notable for the unusual grandeur and the beauty of the inner and outer decoration. Its walls and iconostasis shone with gold and many-colored mosaic and were decorated with a number of icons, the floor was made of the different kinds of stone, the top of the temple was gilded and the Christ on the cupola was forged of gold. The Greek icon-painters adorned Assumption Cathedral. The consecration took place in 1089 and was timed for the holiday of Uspenia of the Virgin Mary.
There was not the church in Old Russia so honored as the Great Church of Pechersk. All major sacred objects of Lavra were kept in the Great Church. Assumption Cathedral has been restored for many times. TheRussian: profound reconstructions took place in 1729, 1755 and 1893. In 1941 the temple was destroyed and was renewed only in 2000.
Till 1941 the iconostasis in Assumption Cathedral belonged to the times of hetman Skoropadsky (1708-1722) which had a great artistic value. The icon of Assumption, of Pechersk saints and other were covered with gorgeous images. The tsar’s gates were forged of silver with gilding. All these were created by Lavra jewelers, who were famous equally to the painters and carvers. Under the floor of the Great Church there were buried many Russian princes, hetmans, Kiev voevodes (voevoda – the head of army in Kiev Rus), bishops, metropolitans and archimandrites.
8, 514 kg of the leaf gold were spent for the gilding of Christ and cupolas during the renovation of Assumption Cathedral.