|The St. Cyril’s Church is an outstanding monument of sacral architecture of Rus of the 12th century, featuring peculiarities indicative for the epoch of the feudal wars. Modest, solid, fundamental architecture discloses the second (after sacral) function of the construction, i.e. fortress on approaches to Kyiv.
In ancient times the St. Cyril’s Church used to be a six-pillar one-cupola cross-domed church (external dimensions 31 m x 18.4 m x 28 m). Above the intersection place of central corridors raises a light drum of the cupola. The structure’s plan rests on west-easterly stretched rectangle. In the east the church ends with three semicircular apses. Aforetime extensions were adjacent to the northern and southern fronts of the chancel apses. Northern extension was used as a place where the burial services were read. Ancient roof was overarched. At the intersection point of the central vaults there was a solid quarter on which a cylindrical drum cut by twelve windows was erected.
Ancient looks of St. Cyril’s Church.Reconstruction by M. Kholostenko
The structure was crowned with semispherical dome. The building’s size makes 870 sq.m.
Overall simplicity and laconism of the structure were highlighted by unassertive dйcor, i.e. arches belt decorating the upper part of the walls’ perimeter and drum of the dome. Windows were styled with wooden shutters with small round windowpanes. Church walls are made of brick-plinth by means of even-thick layer masonry using quite thick (up to 4 cm) layer of lime and crushed brick mortar. .
In consequence of many historical events the St. Cyril’s Church exterior sustained major reconstructions. At the end of the 17th — early 18th centuries four lateral domes were built out.
In 1734, The Holy Trinity St. Cyril’s Monastery suffered from disastrous fire. Restoration works were carried out during 1748–1760 under the guidance of prominent Ukrainian architect I. Grygorovych-Barsky. As a result of reconstructions, central and lateral domes attained a pear-shaped look widespread at that time. Domes were painted with green color — the symbol of Ukraine’s revival, walls were decorated with stucco moldings. A wavy Baroque pediment was added over the eastern faзade. At that time the St. Cyril’s Church acquired features inherent in the Ukrainian Baroque. In such architectural attire the Church has survived to the present day.
In the 18th century around the monastery’s territory were put brick walls with four corner towers (one of them has preserved to the present day); were built brick brotherhood cells, Archimandrite residence, and the refectory. Part of the system of walls became also the architectural pearl by I. Grygorovych-Barsky — a three-tier Bell Church over the gate, erected in the 70’s of the 18th century. This is one of the first examples of architectural combination of bell tower, entrance gate and Annunciation church above the gate.
Internal planning of the St. Cyril’s Church practically has not changed from the ancient times to the present day. Western part of the Church — narthex (church porch), on the southern and western walls of which four niches — arcosolia are located (from Latin “Arco” — an arch; “Solium” — a tomb, sarcophagus), — place where princely burials were located.
In the narthex’ south part a baptistery was located, i.e. the place where baptism took place. From narthex one gets into the spacious central part of the Church. A central Cathedral’s dome rises at a height of 28 meters above intersection of main nave (a longitudinal passage) and central transept (a transversal passage). Further, behind the transept is a sacred chancel part of the Church consisting of three apses.
In ancient times chancel was separated from the Church’s center by means of a low-level prechancel partition — a templon, which most probably was made of rose slate. However, instead of the ancient templon a high five-tier wooden iconostasis was erected in the 17th century, which in the 19th century was replaced with marble one. Carved parapets located on the second storey, i.e. choir lofts are made of marble. Narrow steep ancient stairs made of narthex laid in the northern wall lead to the choir loft. In the southern part of the loft is a chapel defined as a princely tabernacle.
Slate, fictile in the process of working light-rose colored natural stone was widely used in finishing of ancient churches. In the St. Cyril’s Church slate adorned the greater part of the floor, which in the under dome space was encrusted with many-colored smalt. Chancel part of the floor was covered with green majolica slabs.
In the southern wall or in the St. Cyril’s apse there is a mysterious passage leading to the princely balcony. Among sacred edifices of the world there is no analogue to such an architectural and decorative solution. Most probably architectural adding in the apse of the St. Cyril’s Church was made by the order of Vsevolod Olhovych. Availability of such an architectural order makes it possible to find out one more functional use of the St. Cyril’s Church: it was not just a sacred edifice, but also a fortress; not only a burial vault, but also a princely Church, where unlike the rest of laity the prince could, thanks to such a “pedestal”, “physically” and highly demonstratively glorify his own person. . Besides princely balcony, as an interesting architectural feature of the St. Cyril’s Church can be considered availability of princely tabernacle on the southern choir loft, trustworthily dedicated to the St. John, the Precurser.