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Intercession Monastery

Kharkiv, Ukraine

The Intercession Monastery is adjoined to the Kharkiv oldest square, located in its very center. Its architectural ensemble is a complex of priceless antique structures that adorn modern city. The monastery was founded on the territory of the Kharkiv Fortress, in 1726, and used to be a part of the city fortifications system. Situated on the bank of the Lopan River in close proximity to the main trade square, it had a status of downtown’s key constituent.

The cloister got its name later, when an older Intercession Church was added to it. Raised on the place of the namesake wooden church, in 1689, it is Kharkiv’s oldest building that survived until now. The magnificent temple, whose elegant architecture combined the best traits of Ukrainian Baroque, is monastic complex’s gem, the outstanding architectural monument that is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of Kharkiv.

Built by Cossacks near the medieval city’s ramparts, the Intercession Cathedral was crowned with three cupolas. It was raised above the so called winter temple, in accordance with then traditions of Slavic church architecture. Being harmonic and elegant, it produced an impression of volumes, rising up from each other: the monumental austerity of the lower cathedral was contrasted with airy ornamentality of the upper one. Simultaneously with the Intercession Church, the bell tower, which, being a part of the city fortifications system, had rough forms and resembled a harsh fortress tower, was erected.

In the 18th century, the Kharkiv Collegium, which was the first educational institution in the Eastern Ukraine, was opened on Intercession Monastery’s territory. It became famous in particular for the fact that the well-known Ukrainian philosopher Grigory Skovoroda used to teach there. Today a stone stele is installed in cloister’s center in his memory. Collegium’s library kept an impressive collection of rare books, and the neighboring monastic premises housed a large collection of antique church utensils.

Intercession Monastery’s true adornment is the Ozeryanskaya Church, built in the late 19th century. Designed in Russian Byzantine style and topped with twelve bulbous cupolas, it favorably contrasts with the Intercession Cathedral. Bishop's house, a building of cells with refectory, and deanery also survived on monastery’s territory.

In 1920s, the monastery was closed, and its premises were given to third parties. As a result old buildings went to ruin. After the war, there was an attempt to restore valuable buildings, but an extensive renovation started only in the late 20th century, when it was returned to believers. Today revived monastic complex adorns Kharkiv’s downtown, being one of its most interesting architectural sights.

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