Ukraine: UN adds historic Kyiv cathedral and monastery to danger list


The Ukrainian capital has suffered multiple Russian missile strikes during the war, prompting the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to highlight the threat of destruction facing the iconic St. Sophia’s Cathedral and Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, also known as the Monastery of the Caves.

The agency also added the medieval centre of the western city of Lviv to its danger list.

The Committee cites the continue threat from Russia, in its announcement first made on Friday.

“Faced with the risk of direct attack, these sites are also vulnerable to the shockwaves caused by the bombing of the two cities”.  

According to news reports, a Ukrainian government official has welcomed the move.

UNESCO said Ukrainians officials have taken considerable steps to preserve their cultural properties but inclusion on the danger list should remind Member States of their responsibility to contribute to their protection, and open the door to more financial aid and emergency protective measures.

The latest designations follow a decision this year to name the historic centre of the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa also “in danger”.

The list, which now includes more than 55 sites, is meant to mobilize international support for conservation efforts, but it does not have an enforcement mechanism.

Kyiv sites

St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv dates back to the 11th century, and was designed to  

to rival the Hagia Sophia, today one of Istanbul’s most prized ancient buildings.

Monastic buildings built in the 17th and 18th centuries surround the gold-domed cathedral, which houses mosaics and frescos that are nearly 1,000 years old.

Also in the Ukrainian capital, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is a sprawling complex that was built from the 11th to the 19th centuries and includes underground churches, some linked by a network of caves spanning nearly 2,000 feet.

The site, a centre of Orthodox Christianity, holds special significance for Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Christians.

The monastery has faced raids as the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine rages on.

With relics of saints buried in its catacombs, the monastery has for centuries been “one of the most important Christian pilgrimage centers in the world,” according to UNESCO.

UNESCO said on Friday that it has verified damage to nearly 290 sites during the war, including museums and libraries. 

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