"Ukrainian Holy Mountains" Svyatogorsk by hunterV
Svyatogorsk Travel Guide: 66 reviews and 410 photos
This is not just a place for a tourist visit. It is a place where you can be inspired with the spirit of God, with a sense of harmony with nature and the joy of peace. You have to come into contact with this sacred place with all your heart and absorb its blessings...
These hills have rich history, and the caves inside the chalk cliff are ancient. The caves, that are open for public, are about one kilometer long. They are almost identical to those of Kiev Cave Monastery.
The first reference of this place dates back to 1526 when a German ambassador visited the area and described the awe with which the locals treated that place.
The hills were and are called the Holy Mountains. A monastery was founded here in 1844. The monks discovered the ancient caves, continued the underground corridors and built cave churches there.
Many Orthodox Christians have made a pilgrimage to this sacred place and keep coming back to it. This place has become the spiritual center of the southeastern Ukraine.
Svyatogorsk monastery deteriorated in Soviet times. It was used as a coalminers’ sanatorium for 70 years. In 1992 all the buildings were returned to the church and the monastery was opened again. It became a Laura (a merited monastery) in 2003.
The monastery is called Holy Assumption Laura, and the central cathedral here is called Cathedral of the Protecting Veil of the Most Holy Mother of God. The cathedral was founded in 1698. It was fit into a chalk rock. This is where the wonder working icon of Mother of God is kept. It is called Svyatogorsk-root Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God.
The remains of St.John the Hermit of Svyatogorsk are another sacred place inside the cathedral. St.John the Hermit (1795 - 1867) was a monk who came to the new monastery in 1850 and then became a hermit, and lived in a small cell for 17 years, praying and serving God.
The cathedral is open for public for the morning service and for the evening one that begins at 4.30 p.m.
September 24, 2004 is the day when Holy Assumption Monastery was sanctified after it had been awarded with the status of Laura – merited monastery – in the spring of 2004.
There are only three monasteries in Ukraine having that honorary status: the Cave Monastery in Kiev, Pochayiv Monastery in Ternopil region and Holy Assumption Monastery in Svyatogorsk. All of them are called Laura (merited monastery) instead of simply a monastery.
Here is a video about the merited monastery in Ukrainian and a video about Kids’ Field Trip.
St.Nickolas Cathedral located on a chalk cliff towering above the Donets is another must-see and a place of pilgrimage of lots of Orthodox Christians.
The cliff is 120 meters/400 feet high. The cathedral dates back to the end of the 18th century.
You can also see and visit St.Andrew’s Chapel that is as old as the cathedral itself and towers above it on a cliff. You can have a nice view of the town, the river and the hills from St.Andrew’s Chapel located up the hill.
There are other cathedrals on the territory of the monastery where more than a hundred monks and dozens of lay brothers live.
Besides, there are two hermitages called "skit" in Russian. There are seven monks in one of them - All Saints' Hermitage - and five monks in the other one - St.Antonius and St.Theodisius Hermitage. The live and pray in fenced areas closed for public.
Since we made our last trip with a priest from Luhansk, we were allowed inside All Saints’ Hermitage where seven monks live and pray. We saw the church called All Saints' Church and built in the style that reminds you of the 16th century Russian architecture. I also took several pictures on the territory of the hermitage, although I was not exactly blessed by the priest for that purpose, as the Orthodox law requires. I just said to myself I had the blessings of Philip of Luhansk who was my patron saint.
The town itself occupies quite a small territory: only 8.4 square kilometers/3.2 square miles.
The population of Svyatogorsk is a little over five thousand inhabitants, that is, it could easily be called a village by our standards.
The present town was called Bathhouse Settlement until 1964 when it got municipal rights as the town of Slavyanogorsk. In 2003 it was renamed into Svyatogorsk (Holy Mountains Town).
The town's industry is limited to a mineral water factory and a small furniture factory. Several kinds of mineral water are bottled in Svyatogorsk: Holy Mountains Dew, D'Alpino, and Mineralochka ("Little Mineral Water"). They also bottle 12 kinds of lemonades. About one million of bottles are produced here annually.
The town has long been known as a resort town of Ukraine. At present there are three sanatoriums in the town, 32 holiday hotels, 39 children's health centers.
I used to work in one of the pioneer camps in Svyatogorsk all the summer of 1980 when I was a student.
They say the accommodation prices at the hotels here vary from $10 to $400 a day.
The Orthodox pilgrims have the privilege of staying at the pilgrims hotel for free and having free meals at the hotel's canteen provided you help to wash up.
Please take a look at the town’s information portal and another town map. Also, Panorama photo of the monastery and More pictures of the laura.
Having visited these hills a lot of artists and writers have glorified them in their immortal works.
In 1862 the poem The Holy Mountains written by Fiodor Tyutchev was published:
Here is an extract from it:
Quietly and mildly
The July night spreads over the Ukraine.
The stars are so high in the skies,
the skies are so deep in the Universe
and the Donets is so silver
Enchanted by the fascinating mystery of the night.
The Russian writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), who had visited this place, wrote about the Holy Mountains:
"The place is unusually wonderful and original: the monastery is situated on the bank of the Donets river at the foot of a huge white cliff. Gardens, oaks and century-old pine-trees tower, hang over and squeeze one another on it. The trees seem to be crowded on the cliff and some strange force keeps pushing them out towards the skies... The pine-trees grow in such a way as if they are actually in the air and about to fall down..."
- Pros:A famous Orthodox monastery with numerous relics, picturesque views, tranquil places to visit; a place where you are inspired with the spirit of harmony and peace...
- Cons:Rather far from the nearest airport; very crowded in summer
- In a nutshell:Place of Pilgrimage of Orthodox Christians
Many Orthodox pilgrims strive to visit the caves. There are organized groups there, but you often have to stay overnight... more travel advice
Svyatogorsk is a city where you feel like coming back again and again. It’s the center of Orthodox pilgrims, a resort... more travel advice
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