St Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery was commissioned by Prince Sviatopolk in 1108 to house the relics of St Barbara; it was Byzantine in style and survived centuries of political turmoil in Ukraine, expanding and acquiring a lovely Baroque façade before being razed by the USSR under Stalin in 1936. In 2000, almost a decade after independence from Russia, it was spectacularly brought back to life with a painstaking reconstruction of its intricate sky-blue and white plasterwork façade topped with seven glittering gold domes, along with the refectory and bell tower. Named after the patron saint of Kiev, St Michael’s lost many of its treasured mosaics and frescoes to Moscow but most of these were returned after fraught political wrangling in 2004. A community of monks returned to the monastery and today it is thriving once more.
Entrance to the monastery is through the exotic 18th-century bell tower, which houses a small museum relating the demise and reincarnation of the building; views from the top of the tower take in the River Dnieper and the rooftops of Kiev’s old heart. The church interior gleams with Baroque icons, its wall again smothered with original frescoes and mosaics. A monument to the ten million Ukrainians who starved to death in the Soviet-induced famine of 1932–33 stands by the exit to the grounds.
Triokhsviatytelska Street, 8, Kiev. Open daily 8am–7pm. Admission is free. Take the metro to metro to Maidan Nezalezhnosti.