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Kharkiv Sights | Annunciation Cathedral
Individual and group tours to Kharkiv

Ukraine Kharkiv Sights | Annunciation Cathedral
Annunciation Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals of Kharkiv city. The first Annunciation Church attributed to the founding of Kharkiv. Date of foundation of Annunciation Church according to the historical chronicles is no later than 1655. The church was in a settlement that later called "Zalopanye" because it was situated on another bank of Lopan river. There was a few streets in the village with small clay houses and area was surrounded by many low-lying flooded meadows.

The architecture of the first wooden Annunciation Church was simple in their artistic type similar to other churches of Slobozhan Ukraine. This church was burned by a major fire in 1738. After the fire was built a new wooden church. It was a copy of the previous one. In 1775 it is described as a wooden three-headed temple with wooden bell tower.

In 1836 began restructuring of Annunciation Church as the church could no longer accommodate all the parishioners. The building was finally completed in 1839 and the main maecenas was a merchant Alexander Skrypnyk. According to its architectural design Annunciation Church was a typical example of early classicism.

Annunciation Church in comparison with other ancient churches in Kharkiv particularly distinguished by its landscaping, decoration, wealth, capacity and even in 1846 it was called the cathedral. But only on 3rd of July 1914 Annunciation church officially named as Annunciation Cathedral.

The rapid growth of Kharkiv at the end of the XIX century necessitated the construction of a completely new in its architectural design Annunciation Cathedral. The question was raised about it in 1858 but without any progress and Annunciation Cathedral was only slightly extended. At the initiative of a small group of eminent and wealthy parishioners on 22nd of November 1887 decided to build a new Annunciation Cathedral.

For the management of all the affairs of the building was organized special "Building Committee" and immediately collected 34 000 Russian Empire rubles by donations. On 16th of February 1888 Building Committee obtained from Kharkiv City Council a new large piece of land for the construction of Annunciation Cathedral. The architect of the future Kharkiv cathedral Building Committee elected its parishioner and experienced builder - professor of architecture Michail Lovtsov.

On 2nd of October 1888 was made the ceremonial laying of the first stone in the basement of future Annunciation Cathedral. The construction of Annunciation Cathedral which lasted about 20 years have been spent huge amount of money and attract the best experts in their field. Donations of benefactors was not only from Kharkiv but other cities of Russian Empire (especially from Moscow).

During the construction of a new Annunciation Cathedral worship was held in the old cathedral which after construction was demolished. Finally Annunciation Cathedral was completed in 1901 and the same year it was consecrated. All costs for construction and interior decoration of the new cathedral have cost 400 000 Russian Empire rubles and only bricks laid about 7 million items. The new Annunciation Cathedral was impressive and beautiful: the front facade - 34 meters, height to the base of the cross of the main dome - 59 meters, length of the cathedral - 71 meters, the height of the bell tower with a cross - 80 meters, capacity - about 3500-4000 people.

As for the interior decoration of the new Annunciation Cathedral there was emphasized iconostasis made of white marble by master Vasily Orlov. The icons of the main iconostasis made by artist of Saint Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts Andrey Danilevsky and the side iconography - artist Mikhail Mikhailov. The entire wall paintings was done by talented artist Ivan Svyatenkov from Kharkiv. The main iconographic motifs taken from Cathedral of Saint Vladimir in Kiev.

After the revolution of 1917 the story of Annunciation Cathedral is tragically colored. From 1922 to 1924 for the cathedral was reinforced struggle of different church groups and there were even attempts to close the cathedral. But by 1925 the situation has stabilized and from 1925 to 1926 in the building of the cathedral with the permission of Soviet authorities were even concerts of sacred music. However in subsequent years the situation was becoming more and more difficult and on 14th is February 1930 by resolution of Soviet Government Annunciation Cathedral in Kharkiv was closed and its building was used for "cultural purposes". But really in the cathedral was a stabling and in the basement - storage of petroleum products.

Annunciation Cathedral was reopened only in 1943 and did not close until the present day. At the initiative of Archbishop Stefan (Procenko) in the cathedral in 1948 from Pokrovsky Monastery were transferred the relics of Saint Meletius and relics of Saint Athanasius Sitting (Petelary), Patriarch of Constantinople. By this action Bishop Stefan (Procenko) emphasized the overall significance of Annunciation Cathedral and in 1946 it was awarded the title "Cathedral" again. In 1993 added another one relics of Saint Alexander (Petrovsky).

Saint Athanasius Sitting, Patriarch of Constantinople

In the south aisle of Annunciation Cathedral is seated on the throne Saint Athanasius Sitting born in 1597 in Rethymno on Crete Island. Brilliantly educated man Athanasius after the death of his father took monastic vows in one of the monasteries of Thessalonica and later lived on Mount Athos. He was known as an outstanding preacher, interpreter of the Holy Scriptures and Hymnography, author of spiritual songs in honor of Blessed Virgin Mary, a translator from Hebrew into Modern Greek Psalter.

On 5th of April 1654 Saint Athanasius went to God and was buried in Mgarsky Monastery under the pulpit near the gates of the church in a sitting position as befits the Eastern patriarchs: the body of the saint in full regalia and with his staff in his hand was placed in a chair and lowered into a stone tomb. For it is unusual burial received the name of "Saint Athanasius Sitting". After 8 years after the death of Saint Athanasius Sitting opened his tomb they saw the incorruptible body.

The fame of Saint Athanasius Sitting spread far and thousands of people came to Mgarky Monastery touch the relics.

This continued until Bolsheviks came to power. In 1922 in Lubny and Mgarsky Monastery began the confiscation of church property and soon from Kharkiv came representative of authorities demanding to withdraw sarcophagus of Saint Athanasius Sitting made of pure silver weighing 68 kg.

In response the residents of not only Lubny but all regions of Poltava streamed into Mgarsky Monastery and not allowed the officials came close to the relics of Saint Athanasius Sitting surrounded the cathedral living ring in ten thousands of people. Church services were conducted around the clock and every day people came. The authorities have started in the area of Mgarsy Monastery military exercises with machine-guns and artillery fire by sending up to 3000 soldiers and cadets but the maneuver failed to drive away the people around the church. Only with the beginning of the harvest period people began to leave. The monks themselves have shifted the relics of Saint Athanasius Sitting in a wooden coffin and a silver one was taken to Kharkiv. There also were later transferred and relics of Saint Athanasius Sitting where they were kept in the museum untill 1948.

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Pavel Korsun | Ukraine tours travel guide


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Kiev Travel Guide
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