2013 Ukraine

Uphill churches and monumental statues

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Today autumn begins. The sky was grey, the wind was chilly and there were rain in the air, sometimes more and sometime less. And we walked uphill and more uphill. The target for todays excursion was the Kyievo-Pechers’ka and Lavra. It’s a huge complex of ortodox churches. On our way to the churches we stumbled upon a memorial site for the ukrainian famine 1932-1933. Then closer to our destination we found an old lady along the road who was selling scarves so we bought one since women are supposed to cover their hair inside the churches.

Paying a 50 UAH per person as entrence fee to the complex and another 100 UAH for photo permit we we’re ready to enter. The entrance was bombastic. Gold and paintings every where. And then in the “courtyard” there was a lot of decorations as well. But I think the most amazing thing was seeing the churches with their golden coupoles and rich decorations. But I think the one thing I will treasure the most from this was seeing Sofia looking like a babushka.

We went inside some of the churches and all I can say is that someone has used way too much gold when decorating them. Getting a bit overwhelmed by all the finery and tinsel we started to look for the Lavra/underground caves. Finding them was not the easiest thing to do since the signs stopped having english translations the closer we got to the lavra but finally we found it. Also, to get there we had to go down hill. Sofia had to take on a skirt and then we could descend into the darkness. Equiped with only a beewax candle we entered the lavra and I had to go crouched to not bang my head in the ceiling. Well inside the “system” it was really hot and we saw mostly glass coffins of dead monks/priests/nuns. In some of them you could see the withered hands stick out of their “mumifications”. There were two ways to go there, we choose the short one since it wasn’t so much to see after all unless you’re an orthodox christian or generally religious. For us it just felt strange beeing there.

Feeling a bit disappointed by the lavra experience we started to look for the exit. We found one further down hill but found out that we ended up in the wrong part of the town, or we didn’t want to end up there at least so we had to walk uphill, again. We finally found an exit pointing in the right direction and left god and his servants and houses behind us and started walking towards the History of the Great Patriotik War 1941-1945 which is a huge museum and war monument. First you see in the far distant a huge statue of a woman with a sword and shield. When you get closer you also see a great display of old war machines such as canons, panzers, airplanes and the likes. There was also some minor museums you could enter for a small fee of 3 UAH for an adult and for an additional 10-15 UAH you also got a photo permit.

In my opinion the museums was not really worth it since there was no information in English. The most interesting stuff was the huge war monuments around the statue. Very typical Soviet monuments but still very nice. Even Sofia thought these were the best part. Feeling exhausted we started to look for a place to refill our reserves a bit. Walking around in a huge city all day takes more energy than you would think. Ended up in an ukrainian version of Starbucks and then we went back to the hotel a quicky before going out for dinner. Now it’s almost a quarter past 9 in the evening and we’re back in the hotel again.