St. Andrew’s Church

St. Andrew’s Church

St. Andrew’s Church was built on a steep spur of the Old Kyiv Plateau, which served as a kind of natural pedestal for the construction of the church. At this place, according to the chronicle, Andrew the Apostle (the First-Called) who was the first preacher of Christianity in the lands of Kyivan Rus’ – in the first century A.D. erected a cross and foretold the emergence of a large city. Since the eleventh century wooden and stone churches in honor of Andrew the First-Called were built and eventually destroyed on this hill. St. Andrew’s Church of the eighteenth century was built by order of Empress Elizabeth – daughter of Peter I, who decided to build a royal residence in Kyiv, part of which was St. Andrew’s Church. On September 9, 1744, a solemn ceremony of laying the foundation of St. Andrew’s Church took place.  As a symbol of future construction Empress Elizabeth personally laid the first three bricks in the foundations of the church.

Church of St. Andrew the First-Called. M. Sazhyn. 1840s Watercolor


Initially, the design of St. Andrew’s Church was entrusted to Johann Gottfried Schedel, but his project was rejected by the St. Petersburg Chancellery, and the new project was commissioned to the chief architect of the imperial court Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The construction of the church was supervised by the Moscow architect Ivan Michurin, and the best Russian, Ukrainian and foreign masters were involved in the construction of the building.

In Kyiv, Ivan Michurin developed working drawings, plans and profiles of St. Andrew’s Hill. He conducted an engineering and geological study of the construction site and made sure that at a depth of 13-14 m there is a strong continental soil, and above it there is a loose soil, impregnated with water from underground springs. He made a project of a stone foundation, combining it with a two-story “priest’s room” designed by Rastrelli. Thus, massive foundations – the stylobate of the church and its porch – were created. Soil extraction, drainage of ground- and spring water were carried out for the stylobate construction. The foundations lie at a depth of 13.9 m on the east side from the level of the porch, on the west – 12.9 m. The church building is made of high quality white and red bricks. Capitals, ornamental decorations of facades are made of cast iron, the total weight of which reaches 97 tons.

Due to the steepness of the hill, instead of the ramp designed by Rastrelli, a wooden staircase was built near the church, which in 1844 was replaced by cast iron.

The construction and decoration of St. Andrew’s Church took many years. Its consecration took place on August 19, 1767.

Conceived as a palace temple, St. Andrew’s Church soon after its construction lost the care of the royal court. In 1768 the church was transferred to the Kyiv magistrate, and later to the Kyiv City Duma (i.e. Council).

After the consecration, St. Andrew’s Church functioned as a regular functioning church until 1932, when, by decision of the Soviet government, services  were cancelled. In 1935, the church became a part of the historical and   cultural reserve “All-Ukrainian Museum Town”. In 1939, it housed a branch of the Sophia Anti-Religious Museum. During the Second World War, services were resumed in St. Andrew’s Church.

In 1961 the church was closed as a functioning one. By Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR № 766 of July 10, 1962, the building of St. Andrew’s Church was transferred to the balance of the State Construction Committee of the USSR, and by order of the State Construction Committee of the USSR № 4 of January 10, 1968 – to the State Architectural and Historical Reserve “Sophia Museum”. On September 10, 1968, St. Andrew’s Church was opened as an architectural and historical museum-branch of the reserve. Since 1987, it is part of the National Conservation Area “St. Sophia of Kyiv” as a department.