The vibrant, legendary story of this 17th-century church began in the first century
Andrew’s Hill crowns the Podil (vale) district of Kiev, one of the city's seven hills. The hill’s name comes from a colossal church with first-century roots that is built on top of it. Saint Andrew’s Church sits at the peak of Andrews Decent, one of the most popular neighborhood streets in Kiev, which connects Old Upper Kiev with the newer city below.
The old city represents Kiev before the 13th century, and contains some of the most famous landmarks of Kiev like Vladimir’s Hill, Sophia Cathedral, and Maiden square. The “new” city and Podil contain many of the later monuments like Kiev Mohyla University.
Highlights include Saint Andrew's Church at point number one, the Castle of Richard the Lionheart 3, the national museum of Ukraine at 20, the ruins of the Church of the Tithes, the first stone church in Russia destroyed by the Mongols and a monument to the Kiev film "Chasing two Hares".
Though Andrew’s Descent, now filled with shops and tourist attractions, is attested in 12th-century historical documents, its spiritual history is far older.
Legend has it that in the First Century, Saint Andrew the First Apostle of Christ traveled across half the known world, and came to this very hill, long before the founding of Kiev. At that time, there was a large lake or reservoir on the Dnipro, the great river stretching from Western Russia to the black sea bisecting the Kiev. Saint Andrew prayed on the hill, and prophesied that one day, a great Christian city would stand there to rival Rome itself. He erected a cross on the hill, and suddenly, the waters of the lake withdrew deep into the old Kievan Mountain.
Saint Andrew's prophecy of Kiev depicted in the Radziwiłł Chronicle
Many churches were built over that spot, destroyed during the Mongol invasion, and then rebuilt in the following centuries. Architects Bartolomeo Rastrelli and Ivan Michurin built (1744-1767) the current baroque cathedral for Empress Elizabeth I of Russia. The cruciform church is adorned with four spires, a central dome (representing Christ and the Four Evangelists) and Corinthian pillars. Its lack of a bell tower is intentional; however, tradition holds that if a bell tolls on Andrews Knoll before the end of time, the water sealed in will burst from the hill and drown the city and all Podil.
The interiors facing the iconostasis (the wall of icons) and the altar behind it. The Ukrainian coat of arms in center is modified with a cross and was originally derived from the sigil of ancient Russian rulers.
Sadly, the foundation of the church is slowing shifting, requiring much attention in order to save the structure from ruin. This is not the only danger the beautiful church faces. It has been seized from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by one of Ukraine's many schismatic sects, in this case, the self-proclaimed Ukrainian Autocephalous “Orthodox” Church. This is not a new phenomenon, but one plaguing the Ukrainian lands now, as it has for centuries.
Check out these beautiful pictures below:
Ascending Andrew's Decent in Winter.
The ancient road of Andrews Decent connecting Upper and Lower Kiev is an idyllic market Boulevard with bistros and cafes lining the bazar's cobblestone street. It is truly a place from another, simpler age.
19th-century photo of the church with the now destroyed (second) Church of the Tithes which was rebuilt over the location of the original destroyed by the Mongols.