Since February 24, 2022, some 120 Ukrainian religious sites have been damaged by the conflict between the country and Russia. In times of war, attacking a building labeled by UNESCO is firmly condemned.
Last July, the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa was bombed, even though it is close to the historic center of the city, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in January 2023.
In kyiv, it is the Saint Sophia Cathedral and monastic buildings that attract the attention of UNESCO. Although they had been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, they were added to the list of World Heritage in Danger on Friday September 15.
56 monuments listed as world heritage in danger
This emergency measure voted on during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) aims to provide these Ukrainian sites with international assistance, as well as financial assistance thanks to the World Heritage Funds. The list now includes 56 sites, weakened by conflicts, natural disasters, pollution, overtourism… Ranging from the minaret and archaeological remains of Djam in Afghanistan to the old city of Jerusalem and its ramparts.
A cathedral over 1000 years old
Saint Sophia Cathedral is the first Ukrainian building to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its monumental architecture is typical of Ukrainian art from the beginning of the 11th century. Its ancient interior is completely preserved and contains the largest collection of mosaics and frescoes. On these surprising settings, equally unique Byzantine works are represented: Christ Pantocrator, the Praying Virgin, the Communion of the Apostles, the Annunciation… In the 17th and 18th centuries, various monastic buildings were built around the cathedral. This extension also appears on the list revealed by UNESCO.
An Orthodox monastic ensemble
On the right bank of the Dnieper, the river which crosses kyiv, the entire Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is also threatened. This other masterpiece of the Ukrainian capital is now among the places in danger. Erected over the centuries – between the 11th and 19th centuries – the buildings bear witness to the architectural and artistic developments of the eras they have spanned.
Alongside the religious monuments of kyiv, the organization added the historic center of Lviv, in western Ukraine, to the list.