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HomeWorldIn photos: kyiv's centuries-old cathedral and monastery on UN danger list

In photos: kyiv’s centuries-old cathedral and monastery on UN danger list

In photos: kyiv’s centuries-old cathedral and monastery on UN danger list

Saint Sophia Cathedral at sunrise in kyiv on February 15, 2022 (Ethan Swope/Bloomberg News)

The United Nations has named historic sites in the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Lviv as World Heritage sites classified as “in danger” due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, hoping to get help to protect the monuments.

Ukraine’s capital Kiev has suffered multiple Russian missile attacks during the war, prompting the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to highlight the threat of destruction of the historic St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, as well. known as the Monastery of the Caves. Along with the kyiv sites, the U.N. cultural agency added the medieval center of the western city of Lviv to its list of dangers.

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“Faced with the risk of direct attack, these sites are also vulnerable to the shock waves caused by the bombing of the two cities,” the UNESCO World Heritage Committee said in its statement on Friday.

The Saint Sophia Cathedral in kyiv dates back to the 11th century and was designed to rival Hagia Sophia, today one of the most prized ancient buildings in Istanbul.

Ukraine says the cathedral is one of the few buildings surviving from that era. Monastic buildings built in the 17th and 18th centuries surround the gold-domed cathedral, which houses mosaics and frescoes that are almost 1,000 years old.

The cathedral “is one of the main monuments representing the architectural and monumental art of the early 11th century”, with the largest preserved collection of mosaics and frescoes from that period, according to UNESCO.

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He said placing these sites on the “World Heritage in Danger” list should remind UN member states of their responsibility to contribute to their protection and open the door to more financial aid and emergency protection measures.

The agency’s hazard list, with more than 56 locations, aims to mobilize international support for conservation efforts but has no enforcement mechanism.

Also in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is a sprawling complex that was built between the 11th and 19th centuries and includes underground churches, some linked by a network of caves stretching nearly 2,000 feet.

The site, a center of Orthodox Christianity, has special significance for Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Christians.

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The monastery has faced raids as the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine prompted a clampdown on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has historical ties to Moscow.

With relics of saints buried in its catacombs, the monastery has been for centuries “one of the most important Christian pilgrimage centers in the world,” according to UNESCO.

The site has been on the World Heritage List since 1990, but is now classified as “in danger” as the United Nations seeks to track the devastation inflicted on Ukraine’s historic sites. UNESCO said in a report Friday that it has verified damage at nearly 290 sites during the war, including museums and libraries.

In the center of Lviv, Ukraine, The third site added to the UNESCO list last week, a 5th-century castle dominates streets and squares built between the 13th and 17th centuries.

The city was a religious, commercial and cultural center in that period, and the site features a mosque and a synagogue, along with buildings associated with the Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic churches.

“Its medieval urban topography has been preserved intact,” says UNESCO.

In wartime Ukraine, Lviv, which is close to the Polish border and further from the front lines, has been spared some of the most intense fighting taking place in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The city has served as a transit center and refuge for Ukrainians fleeing shelling to the relative safety of Lviv or to cross into neighboring countries.

UNESCO’s latest designations follow this year’s decision to name the historic center of the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa as a World Heritage site that is “in danger,” after an accelerated process by of the UN agency.

UNESCO adds Ukraine’s “Pearl of the Black Sea” to World Heritage list

The history of Odessa, nicknamed the “Pearl of the Black Sea” of Ukraine, dates back to when it was the crown jewel of Imperial Russia. The city has faced Russian attacks during this conflict, and its more than a century-old Museum of Fine Arts was damaged last summer, The Washington Post reported.

While preparing for a possible Russian attack, Ukrainian forces and volunteers rushed at the start of the war to protect Odessa buildings, including the iconic opera and ballet theater, with sandbags and barricades.

Last year, Ukrainian authorities tore down a statue of Russian Empress Catherine the Great in the city as part of efforts to remove emblems of historical Russian influence in Ukraine, The Post reported.

Rick Noack contributed to this report.



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