Saint Sophia Cathedral is a masterpiece of Byzantine and Ukrainian architecture, it is one of the most impressive landmarks of Kyiv. The cathedral facades are embellished with decorative niches, ornaments, and paintings.
Inside visitors can see splendid frescoes and mosaics including the famous mosaic of The Virgin Orans which has been present in the Cathedral since its foundation. The Cathedral also houses the tombs of several Kievan princes including Yaroslav I the Wise.
The construction of the Saint Sophia Cathedral began in 1037 (some suggest 1017) by order of the Grand Prince Yaroslav I the Wise. In 1240, the Cathedral was destroyed by Mongolian Tatars.
In 1596 the building was transferred to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church until 1633 when it was claimed by Peter Mogila who commanded the restoration of the Cathedral and founded a monastery there, the labour continued between the XVII and XVIII centuries under Ivan Mazepa, finally, in 1740 the Cathedral was restored and renovated acquiring its present aspect.
The complex of the cathedral includes (besides the Saint Sophia Cathedral): the Bell Tower, the Refectory, a church called Small Sophia. The Bell Tower was added during the years 1744 to 1752, it is a four-storied structure, with a height of 76 m, approximately four kilograms of gold was used to decorate its dome. The 18th century Refectory has been transformed into a museum.