The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Cave Monastery) was built by Kiev monks back in 1051, this striking building is the most holy place in the Ukraine. In 1051, Saint Anthony took up residence in one of the caves on this hilly outcrop. Over the centuries the Monastery took on increasing significance as a religious centre until it was considered Orthodox Christianity‘s equivalent of Rome or Jerusalem.
The Lavra(head monastery in Greek) is one of Byzantium’s holiest sites, where Orthodox monks established their young religion until Batu Khan invaded and burned Kiev in 1274. Still magnificent with its onion-shaped spires and gold ornamentation, the Lavra is a visit to Ukraine’s glorious past. It is still an active place of Orthodox worship. The caves on the property serve as burial grounds for monks. There are a complex system of underground tunnels 2 to 2.5 meters high and up to 1.5 meters wide. The tunnels accessible to visitors in the Short Caves are 228 m long, in the long Caves, 293 m long.
There are three underground churches in each of the labyrinths. There are the main church and monastery areas, but there are also other museums within the compound, such as the microscopic museum with carvings of Shevshenko on the head of a pin. Underground is where the mummified monks are. The walls and towers of the monastery remaining today, date from 1698-1701. The Great Lavra Bell tower, 96.5 metres high, (1731-1745) looms over Kyiv proudly. Kyiv’s then-highest structure was built according to plans by architect Johann G. Schädel from 1731 to 1744. In 1926, Lavra was converted into a state history and culture museum, and masses stopped being celebrated. Since 1990, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 1996 the reserve was decreed a national monument.