|Golden Gates of Kyiv|
| The Golden Gates of Kyiv
is one of the few architectural monuments reflecting the art of fortification
in Kyivan Rus which have survived into modern times. "The town of Yaroslav"
was surrounded by high earthen rampart some 3.5 kilometers long. It ran
along the present-day streets of downtown Kyiv starting at Lvov Square
(where the Lvov Gates were located) along Yaroslavov Val Street to the
Golden Gates, down Sverdlov and Novopushkinskaya Streets to the present-day
October Revolution Square, where the Lyadskiye Gates once stood, and then
again up the hills to what is now Kalinin Square.
The Golden Gates were the main entrance into Kyiv. Erected by builders of Old Rus, this unique structure was a combination of defensive tower and church. This impregnable for-tress provoked the admiration of contemporaries and inspired enemies with awe. The Gates did not escape the ravages of time. The written testimony of travelers during their sojourns in Kyiv in the sixteenth—seventeenth centuries as well as drawings made by Abraham van Westerfeldt in 1651 testify to the fact that during this period, the structure was in a state of neglect. Still, up to the mid-eighteenth century, the Golden Gates served as the entrance way into Kyiv. It was at the Golden Gates that Krevites welcomed Bogdan Khmelnitsky, hero of the Ukrainian people's national-liberation struggle who won the victory at the town of Zhovty Vody in 1648. In 1654, the year of the reunification of the Ukraine with Russia, it was through the Golden Gates that the Russian ambassadors ceremoniously entered Kyiv. In the late seventeenth-early eighteenth century earthen bas-tions were constructed in front of the Gates in accordance with the plan for reconstruction of the city's fortifications.
In the mid-eighteenth century, following engineer Debosquet's design, the remnants of the ancient Golden Gates were buried in earth and replaced with new ones.
The ruins of the ancient memorial were uncovered by K. Lokhvitsky in 1832, when during archeological excavations, the passage way was cleared and what was left of the earthen rampart adjoining the structure from both sides was done away with. As a result, of the monument two parallel walls (25 and 13 meters long and about 8 meters high) were pre-served. Later, work was carried out under the supervision of V. Beretti with the intention of reinforcing the ruins: the old masonry was repaired with new brickwork; flying buttresses were erected, and the territory around the Gates was enclosed in a fence of wrought iron. With time, however, the ancient masonry, exposed to wind and precipitation, further de-teriorated.
In the 1970s, a plan was approved which envisaged the construction of a protective pavilion which would prevent the Gates from further destruction and at the same time re-construct the initial appearance of the monument.
To carry out the project, much preliminary research had to- be done, for little information on the structure was available in spite of the fact that many scientists had carried out the research, among them were K. Lokhvitsky, F. Sointsev, P. Pokryshkin, A. Ertel, V. Layskoronsky, V. Bogusevich, Yu. Aseyev, to mention but a few. In 1972—1973, detailed archeological and architectural research was conducted. As a result, the ancient level of the passage way was defined, the initial hight of the arches on the basis of the surviving pilasters was calculated; the structure of the ramparts and the plan of the church was ascertained.
According to this research, the design of a protective pavilion was worked out which re-created the ancient appearance of the structure. The project was elaborated by architect-restorer Ye. Lopushinskaya, S. Vysotsky, Dr. Sc. (History), architect-restorer N. Kholostenko and engineer L. Mandelblat.
The specific method of conservation consists in the fact that the new structures of the pa-vilion have been erected independent of the ancient masonry, which, in this fashion is spared the burden of additional weight. The ancient structures (including nineteenth-century brickwork and joins of metal) have been fully preserved and can be viewed from all direc-tions. The protective pavilion thus preserves this memorial of ancient architecture and at the same time recreates its original appearance, showing the grandeur and majesty of this marvelous structure.
The ancient masonry of the Golden Gates looks especially impressive from the direction of the passage way. The height of the walls that survived reaches some 9.5 meters, while the passage way is 6.4 meters wide. The pilasters (8.43: 11.12: 13.36 meters high) which once supported the arched vault project inside the passage way.
The wall surfaces are illus-trative of the decorative peculiarities of the "mixed" masonry, where bands of stone and plinthoi alternate with wide strips of mortar. The walls erected in the first half of the eleventh century are adjoined to wall masonry of a later period, also executed using the "mixed" technique. Compared with the earlier masonry, it differs in thickness of plinthoi and color of mortar. These are the traces of the restora-tion work done in the twelfth century.
Inside the pavilion one can clearly see the reverse sides of the passage way which in the times of old were adjacent to the rampart; therefore the masonry here lacked decorative details. The walls in this passage way show the imprints of the wooden logs of which the inner reinforcement structures were built. The rampart, in its turn, was surrounded by a moat 15 meters wide and 8 metres deep.
The reconstructed pavilion of the Golden Gates is a crenellated tower fourteen meters in hight. When viewed from the facade, an additional projection, the so-called "minor or small tower" can be seen. The entrance way is shielded on one side by a metal-covered porticullis of wood and on the other side by doors patterned after the ancient gates that survived in the churches of Novgorod and Suzdal.
The Gate Church of the Annunciation is re-created as a three-aisled, four-piered, single-domed structure. The church apses are incorporated by the wall and do not project from the front. The architectural decor of the church facades includes patterned brickwork or meandering brick ornamentation on the frieze and is characteristic of the Old Rus structures of the time. The church floors are adorned with mosaic designs patterned after those in the St. Sophia Cathedral.
During archeological research and excavations carried out at the Golden Gates, tesserae cubes, sections of fresco plaster, fragments of ceramic vessels and lumps of mortar with graffiti inscriptions and drawings were found. These finds testify to the fact that the Church of the Annunciation was lavishly adorned with mosaics and fresco painting. To improve the acoustics in the church and lighten the structural weight, hollow clay jugs were inserted into the church vaults. On the walls of the structure inscriptions reminiscent of those in the St. Sophia Monastery were made.
During the monument's reconstruction, the sections of the earthen rampart adjacent to the Gates were re-created as well. The slopes of the rampart are laid with turf, and the butt ends show the inner structure of the fortifications. In the times of old, warehouses were incorporated into the rampart. Today, sections of the reconstructed rampart house an exhi-bition hall and a stairway leading to the crest from which an excellent view of the city can be had.
The structure re-creating the initial appearance of this unique architectural monument which was part of the city's fortifications has made the city's center even more beautiful The opening of the Golden Gates pavilion was scheduled to coincide with the celebration of the 1,500th anniversary of the foundation of Kyiv in May 1982.
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