Kiev, Ukraine

The Cathedral of St. Sophia is Kiev's pride and joy. It was built soon after Yaroslav the Wise joined Kievan Rus to the Byzantine Empire in the 11th C., and named after Constantinople's Cathedral of St. Sophia. Kiev, once described as a glittering jewel, hoped to surpass its southern neighbor.

The cathedral was a sort of capital building also, housing coronations and the signing of treaties. The building still contains the remains of Yarolsav.

After the Mongols swept through Kiev in the 13th C. the cathedral was the only building left standing.

The cut-away areas of exposed brick show how the exterior looked in the 11th and 12th C. Before the cathedral was updated in the Ukrainian Baroque style of the late 17th and and early 18th centuries, the domes were simple mounds, not the fancier onion domes you see today. In the entrance narthex of the cathedral there are models of the original and the current structures, so visitors can compare the architectural changes.

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