Mystery, Legend and Beauty at the Uspensky Cave Monastery

Crimea is a region in Ukraine, which is located near the northern coastline of the Black Sea. Crimea's landscape is made up mostly of semiarid grasslands that are enhanced by the magnificent Crimean Mountain range in the background. Another spectacular feature that can be found within Crimea is the unusual Uspensky Cave Monastery.

It has been claimed, by local monks in the area, that the Cave Monastery was first built in the 8th century, but there is no definite evidence to prove that this is the case. During that era the monastery and the area located nearby was definitely used for some type of religious practice as Christian gravesites have been found there. What is known for sure is that the current monastery, that is located in these cliffs, originated in the fifteenth century.

There is a fascinating legend that gives an alternative tale as to the origin of the monastery and the reason to why it was built. One night a shepherd was out when he noticed above the limestone cliffs a candle shining brightly. He also saw the figure of Jesus’ mother, Mary, illuminated by the light that the candle provided. A prince living in Chufut-Kaleh heard of what the shepherd had seen and immediately ordered that the figure of Mary be brought to his palace. However, the next day when he went to see the idol it was gone and again it was standing in it’s original position on top of the cliffs. A second attempt was made to bring the idol to the palace but to no avail. They realized that the figure of Mary was situated on the cliffs for a reason and that no one would be able to remove it. Instead, a small chapel was built close by and the idol was placed within it. The idol never moved from this position and it allowed the local people the opportunity to visit the figure of Mary.

As the name of the monastery suggests the walls, windows and doors are all carved out of the natural limestone cliffs and caves that make up this beautiful valley. If you continue with the geography of the valley it will eventually take you to Chufut-Kaleh, an ancient cave city. During the reign of the Tatars, which covered a number of centuries, prisoners that had been captured by the Tatar were kept in Chufut-Kaleh and allowed to visit the monastery for religious services.

Today the Uspensky Cave Monastery is definitely one of the most amazing sights in Ukraine you will ever see and is worth a visit. This unique building continues to fascinate thousands of visitors each year and provides wonderful memories and photo opportunities.

back to Religious Sites