The Church of the Tithes as well as just a few other buildings being so old, have endured so much or have been the topic of so much debate. Originally named the “Church of Our Lady” and now officially known as the “Church of the Assumption of the Virgin”, this fascinating historical attraction no longer stands in its original form. In fact, it no longer stands at all. All that remains today of what was the first stone church in Kyiv are a few crumbled ruins.
The Church of the Tithes or Church of the Dormition of the Virgin was the first stone church in Kyiv. Originally it was built by the order of Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great between 989 and 996 by Byzantine and local workers at the site of death of Theodor the Varangian and his son Johann, the martyrs. The church was ruined in 1240 during the siege of Kyiv by Mongol armies of Batu Khan.
Vladimir set aside a tithe of his income and property to finance the church construction and maintenance, which gave the church its popular name.
The temple was rebuilt in the mid 19th century, but in 1928 it was once again destroyed by the Soviet regime.
By Volodymyr's order, the remains of his grandmother Princess Olga, the first Christian ruler of Rus', were reburied in this church. Volodymyr and his wife, Princess Anna, the sister of Byzantine Emperor Basil II, were also buried in the Church of the Tithes.
The church was used by Kyivans as the last refuge while the city was being ravaged by the hordes of Batu Khan in 1240, when it finally collapsed from fire.
In the 1630s Petro Mohyla, the metropolitan bishop of Kyiv, had a wooden church of St. Nicholas erected on the site.
In the early 19th century another metropolitan bishop, Eugene Bolkhovitinov, had the site excavated. Under his administration, a new church of the Tithes was built in stone (between 1828 and 1842). It had little in common with the medieval original. In 1935 this church was destroyed by the Soviet authorities.
The Church of the Tithes - nowadays
A controversial plan to rebuild the church is currently actively under consideration in Kyiv. Proponents of reconstruction point out the historical and political importance of rebuilding a church of unchallenged significance in the history of all East Slavic people.
Opponents refer to the lack of any documentary descriptions or depictions of the original church, and that excavations were unable to determine even the layout of its foundation.
Besides, the monumental building of the new church is likely to be in disharmony with the delicate 18th-century St. Andrew's Church, one of the most famous landmarks of Kyiv, located close to the original location of the destroyed Church of the Tithes.
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