Photographer's Note

Founded in the 15th century, the monastery is built in caves in the limestone walls of a spectacular valley leading to the ancient `cave city 'of Chufut- Kaleh.

It is said that an icon of Mary the mother of Jesus illuminated by a candle miraculously appeared high on the cliffs and was discovered by a shepherd. The local prince ordered the icon to be carefully moved to his palace, but when he awoke the next morning he found that the icon had returned to its position on the cliff.

A further attempt to remove the icon met with the same result, and the people realised that they were meant to leave it where it had appeared. Accordingly they built a small chapel in a cave about 20m up in the cliffs and a flight of steps to reach it. The icon was placed in the chapel.
It is likely that the site of the existing monastery had religious significance well before the 15th century, and there is evidence of monastic activity here from the 9th century AD. The valley was originally settled by the Greeks and later by the Genoese, and there are Christian graves in the area dating from the 6th century.

The monastery continued to function during the centuries of Tatar rule, and some of the Russian prisoners held in Chufut-Kaleh higher up the valley were allowed by their Tatar captors to attend services there, and to meet the Russian envoy there too on occasions.

It fared less well during the soviet period and 7 years after the 1917 revolution it was closed by the government.

Over the past years the main monastery church has been partly restored named after The Virgin Mary Assumption, and in 1993 the male monastery was opened here. Very few monastery buildings were preserved up to the present.

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Additional Photos by Dimitri Martemianov (dvm) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 13 W: 1 N: 33] (94)
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