"Ukrainian Holy Mountains" Svyatogorsk by hunterV

Svyatogorsk Travel Guide: 66 reviews and 410 photos

On the Banks of the Seversky Donets

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.

On a Chalk Cliff

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.

A Place of Pilgrimage

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 and Cons
  • 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
  • Last visit to Svyatogorsk: Jun 2010
  • Intro Updated Jan 29, 2016
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Reviews (65)

Comments (33)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    Enjoying this page Victor. I never knew these places existed. Will return another time to read the remainder of this big page.

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Sep 30, 2015 at 1:05 AM

      G'day, Dee! Thanks for your interest...I really enjoyed visiting this sacred place...

  • Odiseya's Profile Photo
    Dec 20, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Fantastic place! Thank you for this amazing virtual tour.

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    Interesting updatings also here since August of 2010! All Russian Saints’ Church really reminds the famous Kizhi Church.

  • JuliaMac's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    Какая красота! Восхитительные виды монастыря на горе!

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful travel pages of Svyatogorsk. The city certainly has a lot to offer to foreign tourists especially its lovely architectural buildings. Thanks also for visiting our Sweden travel pages. ~ho & pang

  • picek's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2011 at 5:10 AM

    Splendid page, Victor! Fascinating architecture, caves and scultpures - it must be a wonderful visit.

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2010 at 4:47 AM

    What an interesting place I have never heard about! Thank you Victor for showing us about it. Dream to come there someday... Great to know that you were a pioneer leader at Izotovets pioneer camp!

  • Aitana's Profile Photo
    Jul 27, 2010 at 7:51 AM

    Hi Victor! How do you do? Great page of Svyatogorsk, nice monasteries. Best regards from Spain :)

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    Jul 22, 2010 at 2:57 AM

    Good warnings re the temp & ticks. BTW, did the two brothers (Cyril & Methodius) ever stay here?

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Jun 21, 2010 at 4:46 AM

    Obviously an area very close to your heart Victor. Looks beautiful with many wonderful churches. Enjoyed the old black and white photos from the '80's

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