There is an interesting place in the Voronezh region of Russia – the legendary cave of Pridonye. This cave is a part of the two-throne Kostomarovo Saviour Cave Convent. No matter how religious you are, this place can impress absolutely anyone. Don’t you believe?
On the way to the convent.
This is that very Kostomarovo. One of the oldest villages of Pridonye.
This place is often called “Russian Palestina” because some parts of the local landscape resemble Palestinian shrines: Gethsemane, Kedron, Golgotha with a cross on its top etc.
This is the land temple built in honour of the icon of the Mother of God – “In search of the perishing”. In the bakground are small cell-caves of local hermits.
These are the structures of Kostomarovo Saviour Cave Convent.
On this picture you can see the main sight of the place – the Cathedral of the Holy Image of the Savior. The main altar is made in honor of the Holy Image of the Savior itself while the left side chapel – in honour of holy martyrs Vera, Nadezhda, Lubov and their mother Sophia.
This is a residential housing: hotels for pilgrims, nursing corps and something else in scaffolding.
The entry to the Convent is carved in cretaceous outcrops so popular in the Voronezh region.
The desert landscape observed from above. There is no mobile connection even on the top.
Historians suppose that the convent could be founded in the VIII-IX centuries A.D. Heretics were widely persecuted in that period and allegedly they finally escaped to these places and founded the convent here.
“Please, do not write on the temple walls and on the cretaceous outcrops”.
Such a “self-service area”.
Some rooms of the Cathedral are closed for visitors.
The arches of the cave are supported by twelve cretaceous columns. Before the revolution the entry of the cathedral was reliably fortified and could withstand a long siege. Besides it has a well and a disguised emergency exit.
This is the main throne. Only several candles and lamps light this place of the convent.
The main shrine of the convent – the Icon of Kostomarovo portraying Valaam Mother of God. According to the legend it was given to the convent by Emperor Alexander I. One can notice bullet holes on the icon: they say that one Red Army man shot six times aiming at the faces of Jesus Christ and his Mother but missed. In 2002 this icon started to secrete myrrh thought it was depicted on the iron.
There is no much information known about the convent of Kostomarovo. However it could be a small secluded monastery belonging to Belogorsky Male Monastery full of ascetics.
In the background is a niche for relics.
The legend says that here used to be a shroud of Christ with an image of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. It was lost without a trace in the times of the revolution.
Iconography of this one was more typical for the art of the Renaissance.
The shot Valaam Mother of God.
One more icon with Christ and his Mother next to the Holy Doors.
But let us enter the left side chapel of holy martyrs Vera, Nadezhda, Lubov and their mother Sophia. Have you ever seen icons carved right in the сretaceous rocks? One master from Belgorod knows how to do it!
This side chapel was built in the 40s.
By the way do you see numerous mosquitos on the picture above?
It’s the escape exit.
Fresh air makes you finally feel giddy.
Sisters are going to pray.
These are the cells of hermits. They were communicating with other monks and pilgrims only through little windows – to take food and notes asking to pray.
The сretaceous rocks are rather soft here so it is subject to high humidity and formation of green algae. In fact all caves of Kostomarovo suffer high humidity though it is never cold there even in winter.
They say that hermits who lived here looked so terrible that could scare any villager. They spent days and night in prayers…
This cave temple was built in honor of Reverend Seraphim of Sarov. The building started in 1903 but fully completed only recently.
The convent refectory and the house of the abbess.
The temple of Reverend Seraphim of Sarov inside. The spectacle is wonderful.
Interesting enough that divine services are perfomed here only twice a year – on the days of Reverend Seraphim of Sarov’s memory.
One more view of the refrectory.
It’s the entry ot the Cave of Repentance.
It is really wet there!
Inside is such a long corridor with icons carved in its walls. It helps the sinner to reach the confession, leaving all the fuss behind.
The icons are ceramic.
The ceiling is becoming only lower while you move on. In the confession room anyone will have to bow. The confessed person did penance and had to perform hard physical work at the temple. On that piece of paper a prayer for contemporary visitors is written.
The excursion is over, it’s time to leave.
“Taking photos and videos are forbidden in the temple”.