A visit to St. Cyril's Church Museum is an easy afternoon trip away from the hubbub of central Kiev. We took a tram from Contractor's Square, and then walked about 10 minutes up an easy grade to the church. The general area is open, and reminiscent of suburban parkland.
When St. Cyril's was first completed in 1167 (High Middle Ages), Kiev had been Christian for less than 200 years, the Russian Orthodox Church was a diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul), and construction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris had just begun. Since that time, St. Cyril's has undergone many incarnations, and today it's an oasis of calm from the modern world outside.
A practical person might say that you go to St. Cyril's for the frescoes (the painting technique required under church law and regulation in the 12th century). In fact, 800 square meters/yards of frescoes were restored as late as the 1970s.
A delightful middle-aged lady of a studious nature answered our questions, and she spoke with me in good English. The music was evocative, and peace was everywhere. There were a few other visitors, but we were never near them.
The 19th century marble iconostasis held us for a while, and I had a rare perfect moment when I came upon 'Angel Rolling the Heaven into a Scroll,' from the larger 'Last Judgement/Doomsday' fresco.
We ascended to the second floor by way of steep and uneven steps, with many steps more than 16 inches/40 cm high. All the great Biblical figures were there, and a booklet entitled 'Cyril's Church' (for sale downstairs) gives a good first explanation. Paintings by Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910), in particular 'Descent of the Holy Ghost to Apostles,' require ample time. Vrubel fell in love with the wife of the head of the committee that invited him to work at St. Cyril's. See if you can find her likeness among the scenes.
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