With a day free from the business grind, I looked online for something interesting to do in Kiev on a previous trip earlier in the year. The catacombs of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, or Kiev Monastery of the Caves, popped up on the internet. It was well worth the effort to get there and check out this amazing historical location.
The metropolitan in Kiev is clean and safe. It’s not over the top amazing like in Moscow but it gets the job done. Just be careful as I’ve had someone attempt to pickpocket me once as they have an eye for foreigners. Just secure any bag you are carrying and your wallet from access to inquiring hands.
Leaving the metro station above ground, it is a short walk through the park on the riverbank to the monastery. If the weather is good, you can mingle with Kiev residents as they get married in the park, eat ice cream, or just enjoy the day among nature. It’s a good idea to check out a map of the city and familiarize yourself with the streets to get you to your destination before you venture out to the area.
Upon arrival at the monastery gates, there is a self-explanatory map and even someone to ask directions to the catacombs. They are quite a walk down the bank to the lower levels of the grounds. In reality, you can just follow the tour guides who are explaining the surroundings as they will eventually lead you to your destination.
Once you enter, buy a candle to light from the attendant, then you will be lead down into the catacombs through an unassuming, small door in the nearby wall. Soon you’ll be transported into the past, literally.
The monastery is a thousand years old. Many monks spent their lives in the caves under the grounds. When they died, their bodies were sanctified and put out in the walkway of the catacombs for worshipers to admire and connect with the old believers. Occasionally you’ll see a shriveled hand protruding from a shroud or a masked face revealed.
Many of the believers with you will kiss the coffins as they slowly make their way through the myriad of tunnels and passageways lined with the bodies of the saints. It is simply a powerful experience, whether you are a believer or not. The walk down below will take about a half hour, depending on how many people are with you.
Above ground, there are a multitude of basilicas and other structures to peruse and enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed my day spent at the monastery, but of course, I thoroughly enjoy history. Whether you do or not, your day in the catacombs will be different, interesting, and exceptional. Read about the history of the place before you go. Highly recommended…