Pesterna Crkva Sveti Erazmo

Свети Еразмо - Cave Church Saint Erasmus

Useful Information

Location: 3 km from Ohrid, on the right side of Struga-Ohrid motorway.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave SubterraneaCave Church
Light: n/a, bring torch
Dimension: A=703 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Sveti Erazmo, 6000 Ohrid.
Ohrid Museum, Boro Sain 10, 6000 Ohrid, Tel: +389-46-262-498, Fax: +389-46-231-300. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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293-303 St. Erasmus lived in this cave, healed the sick, and spread Christianity.
13th century frescoes created.
1974-1975 archaeological excavations reveal a Christian basilica and necropolis.


The cave church of Свети Еразмо (St. Erasmus) was the first cave which was converted into a Christian church in this area. Erasmus was an Antiochian bishop and preacher, who reportedly christianized the local population between 293 and 303. He became bishop of Antioch at a young age, but he was tormented by Diocletian (284-305) because of his faith in Christ. He was rescued by an angel who carried him on his wings to Ohrid, which was called Lihnidos (City of Light) at that time. Here he immediately started preaching and performing numerous miracles. At this time he lived in the cave, which was later named after him. At least this is the legend which is told by two hagiographies dating from the 9th and 11th century.

The oldest part of the cave church are frescoes, which were painted on the cave wall. They are said to be from the beginning of the 13th century. Since then, the church was reconstructed many times. Much younger is the image of the Byzantine emperor Andronikus II - Paleologus from the 18th century.

St. Erasmus is not the founder of the monastery of the same name, which is much younger. Archaeological excavations have uncovered a three-part basilica and a necropolis with 124 graves dating from the 6th and 12th centuries. They also revealed that the site was inhabited since Hellenistic times (Bronze Age).

When you drive on the A3 there is a turnoff 150 m north of the visible building of the monastery, signposted St. Erasmus. A gate and a single lane paved road leads to the monastery, which also has a church St. Erasmus. But the cave church is actually not here but high up on the limestone cliff face. From the monastery a trail leads uphill 200 m to the cave church, which is actually named Св. Екатерина (St. Ekaterina, St. Katherine). At the turnoff from A3, on the opposite side of the road, you will find a small karst spring called Sacred Water Springs of St. Erasmus.