St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev is an Orthodox church in honor of the Apostle Andrew the Primordial, built in the Baroque style by the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754.
The emergence of St. Andrew’s Church
Many legends are associated with the emergence of St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev. One of them tells that the apostle of Jesus Christ, Andrew the First-Called, carrying Christ’s faith, passed through the Dnieper.
Climbing upstream, the apostle spent the night on the beautiful hills of the coast. On a steep hill of the Old Kiev plateau, Andrew the First-Called installed a cross and predicted that “the grace of God will shine here”, a city and many churches will appear.
After the founding of Kiev from the XI century on the site of the modern St. Andrew’s Church, replacing each other, there were several temples. The last church burned down in 1677. In 1690, a wooden St. Andrew’s Church appeared on the hill, which collapsed in 1724 “from the great winds.”
Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, intending to place a summer residence in Kiev, examined the area. The picturesque view of the Dnieper conquered the tsarina, and by the imperial decree of Elizabeth Petrovna, the stone St. Andrew’s Church was laid on the steepest Old Kiev Mountain.
In August 1744, the Empress personally laid the first stone in the foundation of the future temple. The project of the church was developed by the architect of the imperial court, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. An exquisite baroque temple on the right bank of the Dnieper appeared in 1754.
A masterpiece of church architecture
Built according to the laws of the Baroque, St. Andrew’s Church embodied the main features of the trend fashionable at that time. Light and airy in appearance, with abundant gilding and stucco molding, the church looks magnificent and picturesque.
Down from the church, located above Podol, the historical part of the city, there is Andreevsky Descent, which got its name from the church. It connects the upper city with the lower one.
The hill on which the church was erected is constantly sharpened by underground waters. For the stability of the structure, a stylobate was erected under the temple in the form of a powerful square two-story residential building 15 meters high, adjacent to the steep. There are 8 rooms on each floor of the original church pedestal.
For construction, 20,000 rubles were allocated from the treasury and permission to cut wood for free throughout Little Russia, as well as to freely recruit workers.
On a note! The temple spent 20,000 pieces of bricks, 30,000 nails and 20 sheets of gold leaf on the gilding of the top of the church.
Features of the architecture
St. Andrew’s Church – one-domed, with a five-domed end, a temple in the shape of a cross. In the corners there are decorative towers that rise on massive pillars decorated with pilasters with three pairs of columns.
Against the background of Kiev steep slopes, the building with a height of 50, a length of 30 and a width of 23 meters with a massive central head looks amazing. Graceful corner domes, crowned with gilded balls and crosses, sparkle against the background of the main dome, 10 meters in diameter, decorated with emerald garlands.
From the side of the street, a steep cast-iron four-flight staircase with wide steps leads to the church. The outer deep blue and green walls of the temple contrast with the white ornamentation. The facade of the building, decorated with groups of slender columns and complex profile cornices, stucco ornaments and pilasters with gilded capitals, looks solemn.
The silhouette of the church clearly stands out among the green decoration of the Dnieper hills. Window openings and doors are outlined with stucco and gold.
Interesting! The external grilles are decorated with cast iron ornaments.
The interior decoration of the church, designed by Rastrelli, is striking in luxury, a combination of icons and sculptures, and gilded decoration. The interior of the temple is dominated by bright colors. The floor of the temple is decorated with painted cast iron slabs. Openwork wood carvings and paintings, moldings and landscapes create a light and cheerful atmosphere of the church.
Painting plays an important role in interior decoration. Secular and religious painters were invited to paint the temple. The central dome and ceiling of the church are decorated with biblical paintings. The saints are in smart clothes, surrounded by rich landscapes. The combination of bright colors and an abundance of light pleases the eye.
In addition to icons and murals, the decoration of the temple is complemented by icons in the form of paintings. The canvas of the Ukrainian artist Platon Boryspilts “Sermon of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called”, 15 sq.m. weighs 150 kg. The composition “The Choice of Faith by Prince Vladimir” is an impressive canvas. Icon “The Last Supper” – 8.3 sq.m. The sophistication of proportions and the dynamism of the lines of the icon-paintings amazes.
A work of art – a three-tiered carved red iconostasis with a gilded ornament of 39 icons in the form of a triangle directed upwards. The iconostasis ends with a sculptural group “The Crucifixion”.
The tiers are separated by eaves with a complex profile. On the reverse side of the iconostasis there are paintings with scenes from the Old Testament: “The High Priest Aaron”, “Manna from Heaven”, “The Secret of Confession”.
A look through the ages
The church does not have a bell tower to call parishioners to the service. The parish was not indicated.
St. Andrew’s Church was built for the crowned heads and dignitaries. It was assumed that a guard would be on duty at the closed church, which would open the temple upon the arrival of the empress or someone from the imperial family to Kiev.
After the death of Elizaveta Petrovna, the church service was not held, landslides of the hillsides, rain and wind destroyed the building. Only in 1900 did the architect Vladimir Nikolaev return the St. Andrew’s Church to its former appearance, restoring it according to the original drawings of Rastrelli.
In 1939, the building housed a branch of the Sofia Anti-Religious Museum. During the Second World War, divine services were resumed in the church. Since 1949, the church has hosted the Kiev Theological Seminary. In the 60s of the XX century, the temple was closed again, and since 1968 St. Andrew’s Church has been opened as a historical and architectural museum – a branch of the Sofia Museums reserve.
In St. Andrew’s Church are kept particles of the holy relics of St. Andrew the First-Called and the Gospel in a precious setting, a gift from Emperor Alexander I. Since 2008, the temple has been run by the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, where services are held every day.