Холковский монастырь

Holkovsky Monastery

Useful Information

Location: Holkovsky, near Belgorod, Chernyanka Rayon, Belgorod Oblast.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaHöhlenkirchen
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=650 m, T=6 °C.
Guided tours:
Address: Holkovsky Monastery.
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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14th century caves dug.
1620 first written mention by the monk Gelasii.
1635 Tsar Michael Fedorovich was given authority of the monastery.
1764 monastery abandoned.
~1900 cave closed.
1915 rediscovered.
1917 entrances blasted after the revolution.
1990 cave reopened to visitors.
1995 first underground worship.
2005 start of restauration.
2008 reopened, church sanctified by the local Archbishop.


The Holkovsky Monastery (also Kholky monastery) is an underground monastery dating back to the 17th century. According to the techniques with which the first caves were dug, they were created by monks of the SubterraneaKiev Pechersk Lavra in the 14th century. At this time the Mongol-Tatar started to raid the area, and probably the caves were intended as a protection. The hill consists of white chalk, which is very soft and rather easy to dig.

The first written mention in 1620 was written by the monk Gelasius or Enoch Helasy who was the abbot at this time. The Mongol-Tatars were still regularly attacking the monastery and it had two cannons for its defence. From 1635 the monastery was lead by the Tsar Michael Fedorovich. It was named Холковский Царёв-Николаевский Троицкий монастырь (Holkovsky Tsar Nicholas Holy Trinity). In 1666 a fort was built on the highest hill nearby to protect the monastery. In 1764 Tsarina Catherina II secularized the land of the monasteries and this monastery was closed.

A description of the cave was published in 1888 and 1892 in two books about the Kursk region. According to this description the caves had a size of 255 m², the church 60 m² and the twelve cells 172 m². The tunnel leaving to the church was 126 m long, the total length was 1,000 m. Soon after, at the beginning of the 20th century, the entrance of the cave was walled. 10 years later Father Vjacheslav, the new rector of the Church of Transfiguration, re-discovered the cave and opened the entrance.

During the Revolution the caves were used as a hideout by anarchist gangs. But after the end of the revolution in 1917 the Bolsheviks tried to destroy the caves and blasted the three entrances. As a result only six cells and a cave system of about 650 m remains today. The churches were also destroyed by the atheist regime.

During communist times the monastery was closed, but since 1990 the caves are reopened and accessible. Since 1995 the underground worships are revived and in 2005 the churches were rebuilt. A try to revive the monastery failed.