Kyiv’s Main Religious Attractions Are Open to Visitors
Kyiv, August 13, 2012. Pop legend Madonna took her two daughters Lourdes and Mercy to visit one of the strongholds of Christianity in Ukraine – the Saint Sophia – Cathedral the same day that the Worldwide News Ukraine crew headed to the venue to produce a report on the major religious pillars of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Madonna, who is very open about her Kabbalist beliefs, spent the day in Kyiv appreciating the beauty of the city’s various religious institutions alternative to her own faith. However, Kyiv’s well-known religious landmarks have not always been so accessible according to UNESCO’s world heritage website.
Kyiv’s Religious Pillars video: http://wnu-ukraine.com/multimedia/videos/?id=84
Madonna, as well as millions of other visitors to Ukraine’s capital city, was able to experience Ukraine’s rich religious history due to extensive restoration efforts. Saint Sophia’s cathedral, which is the top-rated attraction on tripadvisor.com, as well as other Eastern Orthodox landmarks such as Saint Michael’s monastery, Saint Andrew’s church, and Kyiv Pechersk Lavra have been able to return to their former glory after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. These well-known attractions have known a past of destruction and neglect, which finally ended with a new found appreciation for historical monuments gained with Ukrainian independence.
Ukrainian independence also came with an influx of various peoples moving to the country along with new religious beliefs. In addition, preexisting groups such as Jews and Muslims now find greater freedom to practice their faith as an increasing number of synagogues and mosques begin construction across Ukraine as reported by The Religious Information Service of Ukraine.
This was not always the case, as the Brodsky Synagogue, built in 1898, served for many years as a horse stable then as a puppet theater under Nazi authorities and later during the Soviet times. Less than a decade following Ukraine’s independence, the Brodsky Synagogue was given back to the Jewish community and reopened in 2000.
Another testament to the recent increase in places of worship in Kyiv has been the completion of the Ah-Rahma Mosque. This structure provides a spiritual center for 60,000 Muslims living in Kyiv. Currently, Islam groups are working to translate the Quran into Ukrainian as the number of Kyivers who are converting from Christianity to Islam increases.
Almost 36 thousand religious organizations functioned in Ukraine as of the beginning of 2011, according to the latest report by The Institute for Religious Freedom, Ukraine. State registration is optional for religious organizations in the country, which leaves an estimated 1884 unregistered communities.