The Fascinating History of the Golden Gate of Kiev

The Golden Gate of Kiev is commonly known as “Zoloti Vorata”, which quite literally means ‘golden gate’. This appropriately describes the beautiful entryway that leads into the old city of Kiev.

It was during the middle of the eleventh century that this beautiful gateway - which is one of three - was constructed by the Prince of Kiev, “Yaroslav the Wise” as many Russian historians often portrayed him. Interestingly, he had a far less appealing side to his personality, having imprisoned Sudislav, his younger brother, for life and being the assumed participation in the deaths of his other siblings. It often makes you wonder how someone of such aggression could have found the heart to create such beautiful gates. However, it is very likely that the Golden Gate of Kiev was modeled after the Golden Gates of Constantinople.

Long after Prince Yaroslav's death in 1054 the famous gates of Kiev were partially destroyed in 1240 by the Mongol ruler Batu Khan’s Golden Horde. As time went by the golden gates still remained as the central entrance, although it was used specifically for ceremonies into the city. Unfortunately, as time moved slowly forward, so the gates began to break down due to natural erosion and man’s curious interference, until all that was left by the end of the eighteenth century was a pile of ruins.

By 1832 a great effort was put into the initial survey and the conservation of the ruins left behind. By 1970 an adjacent pavilion was developed to house a museum based on the Golden Gates and it is here that the history of this ancient city and its most prized possession can be found. However at the 1500th anniversary of the City of Kiev in 1982, a huge project was undertaken in the complete reconstruction of these gates even though there is no formal evidence to suggest clearly what the gate may have looked like. Much controversy was brought about because of this by many of the historians who felt a great betrayal. It was rather suggested that the ruins of the original be uncovered in respect for their past.

The term ‘Golden gate’ is frequently used for a nearby theater as well as the Kiev Metro Station which was built and expanded in 1989 to serve as an interesting landmark. The curious fascination by those who visit is said to be because of their uncanny resemblance to the internal decorations of some of the finest Ruthenian churches.

 



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