Vydubychi Monastery in Kiev

The historical St. Michaels Vydubtsky Men’s Monastery, typically known as the Vydubychi Monastery, stands on a hill in the city of Kiev. The monastery complex is amongst the oldest sacred sites in the country, boasting medieval foundations and baroque cupolas, all surrounded by abundant vegetation. The monastery’s church choir is well-known and was one of the first to sing the Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian when the country became independent.

The monastery had its official beginning with the construction of the Church of St. Michael during the 11th century. Interestingly, the site was already home to a monastic community who resided in caves even before the state adopted Christianity in 988. Grand Prince Vsevolod, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, was responsible for planning and funding the construction between 1070 and 1077. Vydubychi soon developed into an important monastic community involved in chronicle writing.

Vydubychi Monastery cared for the operation of the ferry that carried people across the Dnieper River. Various scholars came to reside at the monastery, including Moisey and Sylvestr of Kiev, who contributed to the renowned Tale of Bygone Years. The monastery was supported by various clerical leaders and nobles, particularly the Cossack Hetmans, who offered patronage in the 17th and 18th centuries. Hetman Ivan Mazepa placed the monastery under protection in 1695. During this time the Church of St. George was built and exhibits the best in Cossack Baroque architecture. Toward the end of the 18th century a hospital and cemetery were included in the monastery complex. Various Ukrainian nobles and other notable figures have been laid to rest in the cemetery, including art collector Bogdan Khanenko, Konstantin Ushinsky, anatomist Vladimir Alekseyvich Betz, and General Lev Mikhailovich Yashvil.

When the region came under soviet rule, the monks were ousted from the Vydubychi Monastery and it was no longer used for worship. Further disrespect was shown when the Church of St. Michael and the Church of St. George were used as military warehouses. Sadly, a fire rampaged through the Church of St. George in 1967, destroying its collection of historical manuscripts. The monastery was able to operate again once the Soviet rule ended.

Over time certain buildings have been damaged, but the ones that still remain are the Church of St. Michael, Church of St. George, the refectory, Savior Church, and bell tower. The Vydubychi Monastery is located beside the National Botanical Gardens in Kiev and is well worth discovering when exploring the city.