On Saturday we headed to Center Kiev. First stop was the Kievo-Pecherska Lavra, which means monastery of the caves. It was founded in 1051 after orthodoxy became the official religion. The Lavra includes almost 70 acres and many beautiful buildings which over the years have been burned and destroyed many times but they always rebuilt them. Beneath the beautiful golden domed buildings of the church are a series of caves which were built by the original monks, they studied, worshiped and lived there. When they died their bodies were naturally preserved by the cool temperature and dry air of the caves. These mummies are still there today in the caves in glass cases, mostly covered but a few of their hands come through the covering. We went down into the caves and by candlelight viewed these mummy holy men and watched as those who still worship them kissed the glass of their cases repeatedly while saying what I assume were prayers of some sort. Women must be modest and cover their heads, legs and shoulders to enter the caves. (Because it is considered holy you can’t take pictures of the creepy mummy hands poking through otherwise I would have! But check out the awesome church…) The first picture is the gate to the church, when originally built it was used as a watch tower to protect the church.
A giant egg made of wooden eggs or pysanka (which means “to write” because they are not painted but rather written on with beeswax, at one time they represented the sun and the rebirth of nature, but now that Ukraine is officially Christian it represents Christ’s tomb and the rebirth of man.) It was about five feet tall and was on the church grounds.
The view from the upper Lavra. You can see all the gold domed buildings, they are all part of the Lavra, it’s huge. On the right you can see what the missionaries call “Big mama” which is where we headed next…
A WWII monument as you approach Big Mama.
Rodina Mat, translation: ‘Nation’s mother’ (the missionaries call her Big Mama) was built in 1981 to honor Kiev’s defenders during the ‘great patriotic war’ or WWII. She measures 203 ft from sword to foot. (The Statue of Liberty stands at 151 ft from torch to toes.)
Her sword was cut shorter once. The Elders thought it was because of airplanes but the truth is that it was higher then the cross on the Lavra, so they made them cut it to be shorter.
Beneath Big Mama is a WWII museum. It was very dark inside and difficult to get good pictures. But the one picture that turned out was of possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in a museum. Gloves made of human skin.
Dome above the museum, below big mama.
The view from Big Mama’s feet. Kiev is HUGE by the way. (almost 3 million!)
Another interesting tid bit, you used to be able to go up on her shield but they no longer allow it due to the number of people who jumped off.
Next we got on the Metro to head to center Kiev and explore there. A word on the metro. There are lot’s of cute Bob’s selling flowers and shops where you can buy all kinds of things for very cheap. I got Nick a tie for $2 and a plug converter for $1.
Our first stop when we got off the metro at center Kiev was food…Ukranian food! Puzata Khata is a chain in Ukraine that serves traditional foods. I couldn’t tell you what all of it is called, but it was pretty good, sort of bland and lot’s of vegetables thrown together. Those potsticker looking things are filled with different things, we got some with potato and some with cherry. We drank berry juice that is made by boiling dried berries, it tasted just like dried berries. Jonah liked the borscht (a beet root based soup).
Graffiti from the Orange Revolution found at Independence square.
St. Sophia’s Catherdral is Kiev’s oldest standing church. It has a very pretty blue watch tower.
Walking down Andriyivsky uzviz in the shadow of the awesome St. Andrew’s church, there are TONS of little stands with every souvenir you could ever desire. It is on a cobblestone hill which winds its way down to the Dnipro river.
And a word on my stroller/backpack kelty child carrier. Awesome. That’s the word. They no longer make these babies…I purchased the only one I could find for sale anywhere on ebay.
Whew! I think I covered everything….tomorrow I will tell you about Sunday!