Golden Gate – this partially preserved building, which was built in 1037, stands at the beginning of Yaroslavov Val Street, is a unique monument of ancient Russian defense architecture. The Golden Gate was built as the main, front gate of the city by order of Grand Duke Yaroslav the Wise of Kyiv after his brilliant victory over the pechenegs.

There are two versions regarding the origin of the gate name. The first of them connects it with the Golden Dome of the Annunciation Church, which towered above them. The second version insists on an analogy with the Golden Gate, which already existed then in the capital of Byzantium – the city of Constantinople.

The site dedicated to the Golden «Gate Museum» in Kiev

In both directions from the Kyiv Golden Gate there were powerful earthen ramparts up to 14 meters high and up to 25 meters wide in the lower part, with which Yaroslav the Wise defended his new city, which was 7 times larger in area than the so-called City of Vladimir. The system of defensive ramparts of the city of Yaroslav, which bordered the city of Vladimir, included, in addition to the Stone Golden Gate, two more, obviously wooden gates, namely Lviv and Lyadskaya (both have not been preserved). Initially, the Golden Gate was a first-class military engineering structure, which consisted of two tiers.


The first of them is actually a gate with a length of 25 meters and a width of 6.4 meters, and the second is a defensive platform with a small Annunciation Church, which by its existence claimed: “that Joy will always be to the city of Tom by the Holy Annunciation of the Lord and the prayers of the Holy Theotokos and the Archangel Gabriel.”

The Golden Gate symbolized the political independence of the capital of Kievan Rus and played an extremely important role in the life of the city, especially during its defense from attackers. The honor of entering the city through them was given to famous guests, outstanding military leaders, and others. In the turbulent years of feudal fragmentation of Kievan Rus’, during the sharp struggle of the Princes for Kyiv, the Golden Gate was among those objects to which the main forces of the enemy were directed. To take possession of the gate was to take possession of the city.

But any of that fact weren’t recorded to history of our city. Even the conquerors of Batu Khan could not do this. They broke into Kyiv in 1240 through the less protected Lyadsky gate (located in the area of the current Independence Square) and only then destroyed the main gate of the city. Kyiv has long lost its significance as the capital of the state. There was also no mention of the Golden Gate until 1594. References to them are found in the later memoirs of the pole E. Lyasota, the Arab P. Halebsky, and other foreign travelers.

Реконструкція Є.Корж

After receiving a series of victories over the Polish oppressors, later they tried to somehow repair the Golden Gate, and in 1750 the engineer-lieutenant colonel Debosket officially recorded their disappointing state – they began to threaten the lives of those who passed or passed through them. At his suggestion, a new gate was built in the ramparts, and the Golden Gate was covered with Earth “for safety” and their existence was gradually forgotten by everyone.

Metro station the Golden Gate was “preserved” until 1832, when, with the blessing of Metropolitan Yevgeny Bolkhovitinov of Kyiv, it was excavated by a local archaeologist K. A. Lokhvitsky. The remains of the once-mighty structure consisted of two parallel walls of different lengths and heights, laid out of natural stone, granite, quartzite and slate, as well as bricks of those times – baseboards. They were combined with each other using slaked lime. The walls themselves were fastened together with iron crossbars by the local architect F. I. Mekhovich, and they were repaired in 1837-1838 by the architect V. I. Beretti.

Реконструкції Золотих воріт: ліворуч - М.Холостенка, праворуч - Ю.Асєєва

Maybe then, or maybe earlier there was a popular legend that the real Golden Gate Slavic Samson – the Knight Mikhail – carried on his powerful shoulders to a certain mountain and installed on its top. This unfortunate circumstance was discussed at meetings of the Kyiv City Duma, which took place on March 13, 1874, and at which its vowel (deputy) I. Ya.Monakhov called on colleagues to take urgent measures. In response, they decided to instruct their executive body – the City Council — to organize the collection of donations. Kyiv residents responded, but the funds raised were enough, it seems, only to install a blind fence around the object, without a single gate. A fetid cloaca formed inside the gate. The city had no funds for the maintenance of the watchman. Not indifferent residents of Kyiv noticed – let the local police chief appoint a guard to monitor the gate.

Реконструкції Золотих воріт міста Києва: ліворуч - автори С.Висоцький, Є.Лопушинська, М.Холостенко; праворуч - Є.Лопушинська

Meanwhile the destruction of the historical monument from atmospheric influences did not stop. In 1884, the concerned City Council instructed a special commission created from technicians to draw up an action plan for its preservation. Obviously, it turned out to be incapacitated, since in May of the following year the City Duma created a special commission headed by the vowel K. K. Ludevikhom, which included Professor of Kyiv University V. B. Antonovich and chairman of the church and Archaeological Society Professor of the Kyiv Theological Academy P. A. Lashkarev as experienced specialists in archeology.

Золоті ворота Києва у 1651 році, гравюра

Engraving construction work was carried out in September-October 1886 according to the project, which was compiled by the local architect V. M. Nikolaev. Fixing the walls with bricks and cement was carried out in such a way as to preserve the contours of the ancient structure. And to protect it from precipitation, the top of it was covered with iron. The updated building has acquired an original look.

However, time took its toll, and the Golden Gate again began to need attention. Therefore, in 1910, the newly created Society for the protection of antiquities and Arts commissioned a special commission to inspect them. The latter stated that although the construction charter and Senate decree obliged local authorities to keep the monuments of the past in proper condition and protect them, the Golden Gate in Kyiv remained unattended. Inside there was a smelly cloaca, and in the southern wall – a hole up to 1 meter deep, dug, apparently, by treasure hunters, and scattered around wild stones and bricks. Part of the Iron coating did not perform protective functions due to the damage received, the cast-iron plate with the text of the command of Emperor Nicholas I applied on it was all covered with rust, some of the stones collapsed and collapsed, someone, stored complex firewood near the buttresses, and so on. The destruction of the monument was facilitated by its roots and trees that grew nearby, and which were subject to liquidation.


The site dedicated to the Golden «Gate Museum» in Kiev

The commission reminded the city authorities that their disdain for this “one-of-a-kind monument of non-church construction of the XI century” causes indignation on the part of the educated public throughout the country. In her appeal to the Imperial archaeological Commission in St. Petersburg, she proposed to cover the Golden Gate with a special roof. In response, the city council was only able to allocate 200 rubles to repair the Iron coating of the structure and divert atmospheric water from its foundations. And the Imperial commission was supposed to send its member, academician of architecture, State Councilor P. P. Pokryshkin, to examine these foundations in the summer of 1915.

The Golden Gate received its own roof over its head only in 1982. Then, according to the project compiled by specialists of the Institute “Ukrproektrestavratsiya” (chief architect of the project E. I. Lopushinskaya), a pavilion was built, which with its contours is designed to recreate the original appearance of this unique monument of the Grand Ducal era, and in which the Golden Gate Museum functions.

The site dedicated to the Golden «Gate Museum» in Kiev

In Kiev in 2007, the next stage of restoration of the majestic structure was completed, during which work was carried out to restore parts of the gate preserved since the time of Yaroslav the Wise, update the appearance and replace the wooden lining. In the spacious interiors of the restored monument, visitors can get acquainted with the museum’s exposition, which tells about the history and architecture of the Golden Gate, see the ancient walls of the passage of the XI century, climb the stairs to the Church of the Annunciation, and see Kyiv from above.

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