In 1982, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv marked the 1,500-year anniversary of its creation, and as part of the widespread celebrations that took place one of the city’s oldest monuments, the medieval Golden Gate, was restored and rebuilt.
This proved a controversial decision as there was no accurate idea of what the original gate looked like, and there were calls to demolish the new structure and display the ruins of the original, which dates all the way back to 1037, during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise.
In the 11th century, Kyiv faced the threat of invasion by a nomadic tribe that had stationed itself outside the city limits. Yaroslav managed to defend his city in the fierce battle that followed, but proceeded to increase its protection by building new fortifications around the area. As part of this plan, the Golden Gate or “Zoloti Vorota” was erected, and served as the main ceremonial gateway to the city.
The entrance to the huge stone and brick structure was through heavy oak doors, leading to a secure passageway, and was crowned by a viewing platform and a small Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which in turn, was topped by a gilded dome, a possible reason for the gate’s name.
It was damaged during the Mongol onslaught of the 13th century, but continued to be used. After it took a few more hits, efforts were made to repair the gateway, but when these failed, it was covered with earth in the 18th century, and this landmark disappeared from the cityscape for nearly half a century.
In 1832, excavations were carried out and the crumbling ruins of the once-magnificent entrance were discovered. The walls and sections of the arch that remained were reinforced and protected. The structure that stands today is an amalgam of the original stone and brick remnants and the modern pavilions that were put up around them in the 20th century. A statue of Yaroslav the Wise was later added to the park surrounding the gate.