Practical every sightseeing tour of Kiev begins with a visit to the Golden Gate. Locals consider this building to be the symbol of the Ukrainian capital, although in fact what the guests of the city see today is just a modern building.

The Golden Gate of Kyiv is one of the few architectural monuments that have survived from the 11th century AD. They were built during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise. To date, the building has been restored and has the status of a museum. Included in almost all excursions around the Ukrainian capital.

Construction of the Golden Gate

The Golden Gate was built as part of the city’s defensive complex. They were the central entrance to Kiev , serving as a triumphal arch. Through them, the soldiers were escorted to battles, they met eminent guests and troops with victory.

The exact date of construction varies from several sources. However, in 1037 the building was already mentioned in the “Tale of Bygone Years”. On the basis of a number of other manuscripts, historians came to the conclusion that the construction lasted about 7 years.

In the 19th century, in front of the Golden Gate, a square of the same name was laid out, in the middle of which a fountain was installed. It was assumed that a total of six such fountains would appear in Kiev, resembling a fruit vase in shape. In the late 90s, a monument to Yaroslav the Wise by architect Kavaleridze was erected in the park.

The exterior of the structure

It is not known for certain what the gates of Kiev looked like immediately after construction, but the surviving parts provide a lot of information. The structure was built of stone and fired bricks , which formed a mixed masonry. Between themselves they were fastened with a solution of slaked lime, sand and stone chips.

Externally, the city gates were a wide arch with a battle platform in the upper part and a gate church. The massive structure was intended to intimidate enemies and show them that they were entering the Christian city.

The width of the preserved arch is about 7.5 m, the height of the walls is about 9.5 m. Dimensional pilasters protrude into the passage, and the gate church is a one-domed church decorated with brick ornaments.

Destruction of the Golden Gate in Kiev

In 1240, the gates were half destroyed as a result of the capture of the city by the troops of Batu. After that, for several hundred years, they fell into decay. In the 17th century, the Dutch artist Abraham van Westerfeld, in his sketches, depicted in detail the appearance of the once majestic Golden Gate in Kiev.

In the middle of the 18th century, the architect Debosket submitted a report according to which the Golden Gate was in disrepair. On his recommendation, in the 1750s, they were covered with earth along with the gateway church . Such a measure was supposed to preserve the remains of the building for posterity.

The Golden Gate is included in that small list of buildings from the times of Kievan Rus that have survived to this day. However, what we see today is not an original monument. In the 70s, during the restoration, it became clear that it would not be easy to restore the old walls. Then the authorities decided to build a new gate, and make a museum inside, in which to place the remains of the old building. 

Reconstruction of the building in the XIX-XXI centuries

In 1832, under the leadership of Kondraty Lokhvitsky, archaeological excavations were carried out, as a result of which the Golden Gate again saw the light. Then a wall was discovered about 13 m long and about 8 m high.

The first large-scale reconstruction consisted of the following activities:

  • Cleaning up the remains of earthen shafts;
  • Clearing the passage under the arch;
  • Installation of buttresses; restoration of masonry;
  • Enclosing the ruins with a cast-iron grate.

However, these measures were not enough, and the structure was getting more and more decadent.

The reconstruction was continued and completed in 1982, to the 1500th anniversary of Kiev. However, the work was carried out in a hurry, and the materials were of poor quality, so the attraction quickly lost its attractive appearance.

The second large-scale reconstruction was carried out in 2007. The remaining parts of the gate were restored, the wooden elements were replaced, and the facades were renewed. The main part of the structure is a 14-meter crenellated tower. On the one hand, the passage arch is closed by winged gates, and on the other – by a wooden lattice with metal plates. They are lifted by a special mechanism.

Thus, the structure reached its contemporaries in the form that it was given as a result of several reconstructions in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Golden Gate Museum

Today the Golden Gate in Kiev is a pavilion-museum that anyone can visit. The structures of the pavilion protect the preserved ruins from atmospheric phenomena. In the museum, you can see the stonework dating from the 11th century, learn the history of the building, study the extensive exposition, and climb into the reconstructed church.

Near the pavilion there is a public garden where a monument to Yaroslav the Wise is erected. In his hands he holds a miniature copy of the ancient gate. There is a beautiful cast-iron fountain in the immediate vicinity of the architectural monument.

The entrance to the museum is open only during the warmer months. In it you can learn about the history of Kiev and the Golden Gate itself. The stairs lead to the observation deck at the top of the building and view the city. 

The museum is located in Kiev, on Vladimirskaya street, 40A . The visit is paid, from Tuesday to Sunday. Monday is a day off.

Interesting Facts

The Golden Gate is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is also known for other interesting facts.

  • It is believed that the name was given by analogy with the Golden Gate of Constantinople.
  • Legends say that it was inconvenient to attack Kyiv through the main gate, so they only made a symbolic blow with a sword.
  • During the excavations, smalt particles and elements of frescoes were found. This suggests that the structure was more decorative than it is presented today.
  • Due to its location, the gate was first called the South.

A rich history, impressive dimensions and ruins preserved from the 11th century – all this makes the Golden Gate an attractive attraction for both guests and residents of Kiev.