Ukrainian architectural monuments are threatened with destruction

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Ukrainian architectural monuments are threatened with destruction

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash. ImageLviv

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a major humanitarian and refugee crisis, with 4.2 million people fleeing to neighboring countries and 6.5 internally displaced. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 18 million people are expected to be affected in the near future with the current scale and direction of ongoing military violence. Apart from the threat to human lives, Ukrainian culture is also under threat as historic towns and buildings are destroyed. In March, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) expressed concern about damage to historical monuments in Ukraine and called for the protection of its cultural heritage. Here are some of Ukraine’s most significant architectural monuments, which are now at risk of being destroyed amid the conflict.

Rbrechko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.  ImageSaint Sophia Cathedral, kyiv.  ImageSt.  Saint Sophia CathedralVia Shutterstock.  ImageDerzhpromVia Shutterstock.  ImageUkrainian wooden churchVia Shutterstock.  ImageResidence of the Metropolitans of Bukovina and Dalmatia+5

Rbrechko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.  ImageSaint Sophia Cathedral, kyiv.  ImageSt.  Saint Sophia Cathedral
Rbrechko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. ImageSaint Sophia Cathedral, kyiv. ImageSt. Saint Sophia Cathedral

St. Sophia’s Cathedral in kyiv dates from the 11th century and is one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ukraine. The landmark is one of the few surviving buildings from Kyivan Rus, the first Eastern Slavic state and a testament to Byzantine art and architecture. The interior preserves a unique collection of frescoes and mosaics from the 11th century. Monastic buildings built in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Ukrainian Baroque style surround the cathedral making up the architectural ensemble of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, incorporating underground buildings and structures of the 11th-19th centuries. Together they bear witness to the cultural interaction between Kyivan Rus’, the Byzantine Empire and Western Europe.

Via Shutterstock.  ImageResidence of the Metropolitans of Bukovina and Dalmatia
Via Shutterstock. ImageResidence of the Metropolitans of Bukovina and Dalmatia

The Residence of the Metropolitans of Bukovina and Dalmatia in Chernivtsi is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 19th century by Czech architect Josef Hlávka is an example of historicist architecture combining Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque elements. The site includes the former residence of the metropolitans with its Chapel of St. Ivan of Suceava, the former seminary and the seminary church, and the former monastery with its clock tower in a garden and landscaped park. The complex of buildings is now part of the city’s university.


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UNESCO expresses deep concern over Ukrainian monuments and takes action to protect endangered heritage


Via Shutterstock.  ImageUkrainian wooden church
Via Shutterstock. ImageUkrainian wooden church

Ukraine is also home to many 16th to 19th century wooden churches known as Tserkvas. While many are still located in rural areas of the Carpathian region, some have been moved to open-air folk museums near kyiv and Lviv. These structures reflect the Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition and vernacular building knowledge. Presenting a tripartite plan with octagonal domes and cupolas, the tserkvas are characteristic of the Carpathian region of Ukraine and Poland and constitute an important aspect of the architectural heritage of the region.

Via Shutterstock.  ImageDerzhprom
Via Shutterstock. ImageDerzhprom

Derzhprom, or the Palace of Industry, is a constructivist building dating from 1928 and is currently on the tentative list of future UNESCO heritage sites. Located in Kharkiv’s Freedom Square, the sprawling structure of 9 radially placed H-shaped buildings is one of the tallest structures in the world and the largest constructivist project ever built. The project includes sky bridges and interior streets and is an expression of avant-garde architecture. Freedom Square was bombed on March 1, and the adjacent State Academic Opera, Ballet Theater and Kharkiv Philharmonic Orchestra were either destroyed or badly damaged.

The war threatens Ukrainian culture not only through the danger it poses to its artistic and architectural heritage, but also through the disruption of education. The Kharkiv School of Architecture made the decision to continue its programs and transferred its staff and students to Lviv. The school is committed to creating a framework for the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and seeks international collaboration with European academic institutions and intellectual support from experts who could help consolidate knowledge and professional expertise. in the country. Currently, the university’s goals are to equip the younger generation of architects with the tools to properly approach the post-war landscape.

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