About Monastery of the Caves
The Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, also known as Kiev Pechersk Lavra, is an expansive monastic complex in the Ukrainian capital which now also operated as a major museum. The monastery includes a number of sights the most famous of which are the underground catacombs, which contain the mummified remains of medieval monks, and a striking selection of gold-domed churches.
The UNESCO-listed site was first used for monastic practice in the 11th century by the ancient state of Kievan Rus and has been occupied ever since, with new structures being constructed throughout the centuries. As well as periods of expansion, the Monastery of the Caves has also seen harsher times – it was ravaged by the Mongols, sustained damage through the centuries and even suffered during World War Two.
Today, the major places to explore at the site are the beautiful Cathedral of the Dormition, the Great Lavra Belltower, the 12th century Trinity Church, the Refectory Church (now a museum of Christianity) and of course the famous underground catacombs themselves. These are split into the Near Caves and the Far Caves, whose entrances are the All Saints Church and the Church of the Conception of St Anne respectively. These catacombs contain hundreds of mummified monks and the site operates popular tours which draw thousands of visitors every year.
There are also a number of prominent museums within the Monastery of the Caves complex, containing a range of artefacts and exhibits relating to Ukrainian history, art, theatre and film.
As the site is so large, it’s a major undertaking to explore it all. Make sure you give yourself ample time for a visit and choose your priorities carefully.