Kiev Pechersk Lavra was founded in 1051 by monk Antoniy while Yaroslav the Wise was a leader of the state. Actually lavra is a common name for the greatest orthodox monasteries. It is said that the monastery grew around the caves in which monks Antoniy and Feodosiy were living as ascetics. This monastery became a Christian center of Kievan Rus. It became Lavra in 12th century as by that time the monastery was really large and developed. Lavra owned 3 towns, 7 smaller towns, 200 villages and farm yards, 70 000 bondsmen, 2 paper-mills, 11 brickyards, 2 stud farms and other.
In the times of Kievan Rus Kiev Pechersk Lavra was a very important center of enlightenment and culture. It was the place, where the entire learned world of the Rus gathered. Here scientists were working over adaptation and translation of Byzantine religious and secular texts. Also here at Lavra new texts were written and it had high importance for the development of specific Kievan culture. At Lavra the chronicles were written and now those are one of the most valuable sources while learning history of old times. In 1615 printing-office was establishes at Kiev Pechersk Lavra.
Since 1926 territory of Kiev Pechersk Lavra is a conservancy area. Here can be found such buildings as Assumption cathedral and Gate Church of the Trinity, which date back to the 11th century. Also there is a bell tower built in the 18th century.
Nowadays on the territory of Kiev Pechersk Lavra museums can be found. Among them Museum of the book and book-printing, Museum of historical treasures, Museum of Ukrainian folk ornamental art and some exhibitions. In Kiev Pechersk Lavra some great were buried, such as P.Stolypin, famous minister and reformer.
Assumption cathedral is the main church of the complex. It was the first stone building that was erected on the territory of Pechersky monastery. It was blown up by German invaders in 1941, while Kiev was under occupation. Cathedral was reconstructed only in 1990’s.
Lavra is famous for its caves. You may take a tour to these caves if you’re interested in that kind of stuff or if you’re a religious person. In caves holy relics can be found which are believed to be salutiferous. So, impressible people from all over Ukraine come here to get cured with help of holy relics. If you’re not religious at all you might be interested to go to those caves just to have such experience, because I highly doubt that you’ve ever been in caves like that. The only thing is that you probably should not take your kids with you, as it is highly traumatic experience for a child. There is a limited space, where ancient dead people are resting in glass coffins and people are kissing those coffins.
Another thing that you must beware about is that women in pants and in short skirts are usually prohibited from visiting caves (and some churches). But at the entrance you will be proposed to rent a robe for some money.
Anyway you should definitely add Lavra to your Kiev tour as here you will be able to visit great number of museums, enjoy architecture of Kievan Rus times, and see some very rare and beautiful religious paintings and icons.
To get to the Kiev Pechersk Lavra you should go to underground station Arsenalna and at the exit turn left and walk for about 10 minutes. The address is Sichnevogo povstannya street 21.