We started the day at the Kiev Perchersk Lavra, a huge complex developed by monks and still an active monastery. Now there are about 100 monks, but during its heyday, it supported more than 500. The Lavra's caves were dug out and used by monks starting in 1051. Today a maze of catacombs includes about 100 burials. Later above-ground features include a bell tower, additional monastery structures, a cathedral and old fortification walls. The cathedral was completely rebuilt in 2000 after destruction during the WWII (who was actually responsible for the destruction is a question, but the thought now is that the Russians blew it up as they fled the city before the Nazis arrived).
Entrance to the Lavra.
The complex features several museums. We visited the Museum of Microminiature where we took in microscopic art by Nikolai Siadristy, who just happened to be in the museum chatting with patrons. Each piece must be viewed under a microscope. I have no idea how he produced this amazing artwork. It was definitely worth a visit.
After the Lavra, we headed to Babi Yar, a ravine known as the killing site for more than 100,000 Jewish people. Alex told us that the ravine in Babi Yar has a long history of horror. Stalin, apparently, used it for his political enemies before the Nazis found it a useful killing spot, as well. Today, there is a memorial along a main street
and another, specifically Jewish memorial, accessed via a long paved path.
I think the paved path and the forest paths near the memorial really encourage reflection. I thought this Jewish memorial was understated and very effective.