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The Cave Complex of the Svyatogorsk Monastery and Lavra


On the right side of the Svyatogorsk monastery, an ancient complex of caves extends for over 800 meters in length. It is historically considered as the most valuable attribute to the Svjatogorsk monastery. Unfortunately there exist no archeology records nor is there any clarity as to era when this rock formations of the magnificent complex of caves, were formed. Estimations indicate these caves originated between the late XI and early of the XII century. 


Under constant attack from the Tartar settlers during the late XI and early of the XII century, the Monks of Svyatogorsky monastery, would hide out in these caves, as those captured by the Tartars, were doomed to die in captivity. It is said that the cave complex served as a hiding place and that was seen as the salvation of the Monks.


An ancient myth claiming the existence of a mysterious secret passageway, leading between the caves and the left banks of the Donec River, is said to be the truth although it has never be proven. The myth has it that its existence was vowed to be protected and guided by the high sanctuary of the holy monetary, to uphold, keep & preserve for all times to come.


Archives and ancient writings that appears on the tombs found in a cave chapel at the monastery, leads us to believe that this chapel must have served as a storage place for the destitute monks. Such storage places were known as “VNUTRISKALNYE CELL” or “KELARNY” 


The archives points to the existence of an underground church and referred to it being called “the church of St. Nicholas”. Modern day archeology indicates the extant of these cave structures to date as far back to the XI and XII century, same as that of the monastery. 


Legend has it that Cretaceous Holy St. John the Hermit, resided in these caves, tending to the underground church of Nicholas for over 17 years.


Two kilometers west of Svyatogorsk Monastery, far from the “Seversky Donec” River, you can still find the cave monastery monastic. It has been suggested that its origin expands from this monastery, and was formed by the current Lavra.


The entrance to the cave is located in the left slope with stretching steps. These caves were formed from a chalk type substance. The fragile “chalk cave” of Cretaceous Holy St. John the Hermit, gradually crumbled in time, and could not be preserved.


The architectural design of the cave entrance made provision for only one person to enter at a time and would broaden as one would proceed further into the cave, ultimately allowing four people next to each other at one time. It was designed in this fashion with the intension to prevent unexpected guests from entering the cave. The cave height also increases to around 2 meters as one proceeds deeper into the cave allowing people to move freely and safely. On the right and left hand sides you will find two small rooms, one of which has a main hall and two entrances, respectively.


Directly behind the entrance, the cave rotates with 90 degrees to the right side, leading down towards the river bank with a significant slope. The length of the corridor extends about 40 meters ultimately dividing into two smaller corridors following a sharp bend. One corridor caved in and is completely blocked by the rocks falls today.  The second corridor leads to three more rooms. In all probability two of these rooms were intended to be prayer rooms and the third room possibly for the soul use of the monks only.


In each of rooms one can find small vents, hardly large enough to fit in a human hand.


The “Cave complex  of Svyatogorsk monastery” clearly holds secrets of great interest and huge historical significance. Sadly many great signs with historical value has been spoiled and destroyed by the public.