The cathedral is a splendid example of the architectural and monumental art of the early 11th-century through to the Baroque era.
St. Sophia’s was built in 1037 to celebrate Prince Yaroslav the Wise's victory over the Pechenegs (Asian nomadic tribes) in 1036. It was named after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul - its architectural rival.
The cathedral has preserved its decadent Byzantine interior, with original mosaics and frescoes from the 11th-century. Its golden domes and 76 metre bell tower are 18th-century Baroque additions, and the latter can be climbed for a birds-eye view of the surrounding monastic buildings - also in the Ukranian Baroque style. The 18th-century refectory is now a museum with archaeological artefacts and architectural displays, including models of medieval Kiev.