History of the Inkerman Cave Monastery

The Inkerman Monastery of St. Clement, more commonly referred to simply as the Inkerman Monastery, is said to date back to the 8th century CE when it was founded by worshippers of icons who were forced to flee from their homeland due to persecution. Built into the cliff-face at the mouth of the Chorna River in Crimea, this cave monastery has eight chapels and an inn which can be accessed via a stairway. Still functioning as a monastery today, the Inkerman Cave Monastery is a fascinating tourist attraction not to be missed when exploring the town of Inkerman.

History, and legend, has it that in the 1st century CE, when the Crimea south coast was under Roman rule, people who displeased the ruling authorities were sent to the Inkerman quarries. Among the Christians sent there was a bishop named Clement, who found a source of fresh water for those who had been banished, and the water source miraculously became the Chorna River. To give thanks to God, a temple was cut out of the mountains – the beginning of the cave monastery. The Romans, who were trying to crush Christianity, took exception to this and executed Clement by tying an anchor around his neck and tossing him into the sea. A year later, to the day, the water receded, exposing the remains of Clement, who was later declared a saint. This continued to happen each year, attracting many pilgrims to the area. Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius later transported the remains of Saint Clement to the Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome.

The monastery as it is seen today developed over the years, and also suffered a number of setbacks. In the 1850s it was looted by the British and in 1927 was damaged by an earthquake the occurred in the waters of the Black Sea. During World War II officers of the Soviet army commissioned with defending Sevastopol were housed in the caves which, under Soviet rule, ceased functioning as a monastery. Additions over the years include a church built by the Russians to commemorate the 1888 train disaster near Borki, from which the Romanov family escaped unharmed, which was considered to be a miracle. A second church was built in 1905 to commemorate the Crimean War. The Inkerman Cave Monastery stands as a testament to man’s ingenuity and to the craftsmanship of those who built it.