The Golden Gate
The Golden Gate
The Golden Gate is one of the oldest buildings in Kyiv, built in the 11th century under Yaroslav the Wise, and one of the best preserved architectural monuments: after all, their current appearance is the result of reconstruction dedicated to the ‘1500th anniversary of Kyiv’ (1982) and renovation in 2007. The current Golden Gate recreates a possible appearance of the monument and at the same time protects the surviving fragments from ruination and decay.
In the days of Kyiv Rus, the Golden Gate was an important element of the city’s defenses and the main entrance to Kyiv. In The Primary Chronicle, the construction of the building is mentioned in year 1037. The ancient age of the monument is confirmed by its masonry, close to the masonry of Sophia of Kyiv. The name of the gate was given by analogy with the Golden Gate of Constantinople, as well as due to the Chapel of the Annunciation located above the gate: thus the whole city seemed to be under the protection of the Virgin.
In the minds of Kyivans, the fate of the gate was inextricably linked with the fate of the city and its decline after the Tatar-Mongol invasion. According to a legend, the Tatars, approaching Kyiv, suggested that the people of Kyiv extradite the invincible knight Mykhailyk, then the army would retreat from the city. The people of Kyiv agreed, and the knight threatened that when he was handed over to the enemy, Kyiv would see neither him nor the Golden Gate. He mounted his horse, lifted the Golden Gate on his spear, and rode through the enemy army all the way to Constantinople, and the Tatars captured the city.
In the 17th century, the building was part of the system of the Old Kyiv Fortress and remained the main gate of the city: in particular, in 1648, the people of Kyiv welcomed here Bohdan Khmelnytskyi after the victory at Zhovti Vody.
In 1751, after inspecting the surviving fragments of the Golden Gate, it was decided to cover the monument with earth to save the remains of the building. So the ruins stood for almost eighty years.
The monument was returned to Kyiv thanks to archeological excavations: archaeologist Kindrat Lokhvytskyi found traces of the building. In the summer of 1834, Kyivan public saw what had survived of the once majestic monument – two parallel walls 8 meters high; eastern 25 and western 13 meters long. The Golden Gate was reinforced, and an iron fence was erected around it. And the monument lived for more than a hundred years to appear in 1982 as it is today.