In the centre of Kiev, capital of the Ukraine, a unique monument of both architecture and culture dominates the upper city, Sofiysky Sobor Cathedral. The imposing four-levelled bell tower looks as though it still continues to protect the oldest church that dates back to Kiev Rus times, a Ukrainian house of God that was modelled on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
The most important treasures of the cathedral are its mosaics which are just as fine as those to be found in both Ravenna and Venice. They contain mostly religious motifs and gilded icons indicate their connection with the East-Roman church.
The interior with its huge dimensions and gallery for the royal court, has managed to retain its original Byzantine character. The architecture of other countries, added to the age-old traditions of Russian stone architecture, created a beauty and perfection that was unique in the Europe of the eleventh century.
Today, the Sofiysky Sobor is a museum. It was previously the centre of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and main seat of the Metropolitan Bishop of Kiev.