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Ukraine Chernihiv Sights | Anthony Caves
Individual and group tours to Chernihiv

Ukraine Chernihiv Sights | Anthony Caves
Anthony Caves
of Trinity-Elias Monastery in Chernihiv - a monument of religious architecture of XI-XIX centuries. Anthony Caves were based in 1069 as cave Christian monastery by Prince Svyatoslav and well-known figure of Christianity of Kievan Rus - Anthony Pecherskiy.

About Anthony Pecherskiy

In 983 a boy was born in city of Ljubech. Parents gave him a name - Antip. Since childhood Antip bored of madding crowd and tried to privacy - he had dug a cave a mile from Ljubech and lived there all alone. Then Antip went to Mount Athos (Holy Mountain) where in one of the monasteries became a monk with the name of Anthony. Here Anthony Pecherskiy got the basics of monastic life and lived in a cave near Esphigmenou Monastery.

Soon the abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery ordered Anthony Pecherskiy to return to his native land with mission to gave knowledges he has known on Mount Athos to monks of Kievan Rus.

Returning to Kiev Anthony Pecherskiy began to look for a place where he could be alone and found a cave in the hill of the right bank of Dnieper river where he lived for several years. After the death of Prince Vladimir the Baptist in 1015 the monk again went to Mount Athos (Holy Mountain) in the same monastery. In 1028 the abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery again ordered him to return to Kievan Rus. Anthony Pecherskiy went through all the monasteries near Kiev but could not stay in any of them. On notions of Anthony Pecherskiy - in a big city person could not be alone with God. Finally he found a cave in which the priest Hilarion of Berestovo village lived who became Metropolitan of Kiev.

The glory of righteous living of Anthony Pecherskiy quickly spread in Kiev and monks began to settle near his cave. After death of Yaroslav the Wise in 1054 Anthony Pecherskiy was accused of involvement in the uprising against the Grand Prince of Kiev Izjaslav and fell out of favor. Fearing Prince's anger and violence he decided to escape from Kiev. On hearing this Prince Svyatoslav secretly transfered him to Chiernihiv. So one night in 1069 Anthony Pecherskiy arrived in Chernihiv where created the cave settlement in Boldin mountains. Name of the place comes from the ancient word "Bold" which means oak. Oak has a high energy and has long been revered by local inhabitants.

Inside of Boldin mountain Anthony Pecherskiy dug a cave in which he lived for three years until the time when people of Kiev persuaded him to return to Kiev-Pechersk Caves Monastery where he died a year later at the age of 90 years old.

History of Anthony Caves

Originally Anthony Caves was called Monastery of Mother of God. Intensive development of the monastery lasted until 1239 when Chernihiv was destroyed by the Mongols of Batu Khan. In the beginning of XII century near the entrance to Anthony Caves was built stone Elias Church. Then came a period of decline that lasted until XVI century.

Extensive work to Anthony Caves began in 1649 by initiative of Chernihiv colonel Stepan Podobaylo who gave the money for the reconstruction. Most reconstruction of the complex refered to the period of the beginning of XVIII century till the end of XIX century. As a result Anthony Caves became the complex of underground passages and rooms with a total length of 350 meters. The depth of Anthony Caves varies from 2 to 12 meters below the surface. All underground facilities are located on two main levels. Geological conditions allowed designers to make the cave monastery without additional fasteners.

Particular interest for visitors is the lower tier of Anthony Caves. This site is located to the east of the altar of Theodosius Totemsky –°hurch and has a length of about 100 meters. It is known that this part of the complex at various times served as an underground necropolis and the habitat of monks-hermits.

Another ancient site of Anthony Caves is located on the second floor of the complex. It includes galleries and spaces between Theodosius Totemsky Church and Nicola Svyatosha Church. During the research here found an ancient underground church-ossuary of pretty impressive size - length of 12 meters, width - from 2 to 5 meters with an average height of 3 meters.

From church-ossuary to the south extends a wide gallery of 3 meters high which might be at the time - the main entrance to Anthony Caves.

In XVIII-XIX centuries most of caves were reconstructed. At the same time a significant part of ancient communications was destroyed and the remaining - rebuilt. As a result Anthony Caves completely lost their original appearance. At that time were built three underground churches of bricks. The greatest interest as architectural value is Theodosius Totemsky Church.

The walls and ceilings of Theodosius Totemsky Church was decorated in the style of Ukrainian Baroque. So Theodosius Totemsky Church was not only the main underground church of Trinity-Elias Monastery but also the largest underground church in the Left-Bank Ukraine. Its dimensions are impressive: the maximum height - 8,5 meters, length - 15,5 meters. The church has a choir located behind the arch in the northern part of it.

Two other underground churches - Saint Anthony Church and Nicola Svyatosha Church have a simpler architecture.

Since 1967 Anthony Caves entered Chernihiv Architectural and Historical Reserve.

Ghosts of Anthony Caves

Ghosts of Anthony Caves were marked by staff of Chernihiv Architectural and Historical Reserve and visitors of the caves. Interestingly that in summer of 1995 whole group of visitors saw a ghost-monk in the caves. Attempts of special scientific study of anomalies of Anthony Caves with special equipment did not give any results. Next were involved various specialists and psychics and they all has confirmed that Anthony Caves have positive influence on the human body.

Perhaps the reason for anomalies in Anthony Caves is the fact that in the depth of the hill is another ancient church with ceramic iconostasis, the entrance to which the monks kept in secret.

In a dead-end tunnel going to the north of Nicola Svyatosha Church often appears gaseous cloud of various shapes: bearded face, man dressed in a robe, just a geometric shape.

Ghosts appear from the jet of gas comming from a small recess in the floor of the corridor. Often this is accompanied by a strong smell of ammonia. On the wall near the recess scrawled words "Save your servant" dating of XVI century. The floor in this place was examined by metal frames and the tomb of unknown monk was discovered.

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Pavel Korsun | Ukraine tours travel guide


Pavel Korsun
Tour Guide
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