Свято-Успенська Святогірська Лавра

Sviatohirsk Lavra - Sviatohirsk Cave Monastery

Useful Information

Location: Near Sviatohirsk city, eastern Ukraine.
Open: All year daily.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Sviatohirsk Lavra.
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 first monks settle in the area.
1526 first written mentioned.
1624 officially recognized as the Sviatohirsk Uspensky Monastery.
1787 renovated with the money of the government of Catherine II.
1844 renovated with donations by Mikhailovich Potemkin and his wife Tatiana Borisovna.
1918 destroyed after the revolution.
1922 monastery closed, monks leave, houses used as holiday homes for workers.
1947 buildings destroyed by the Soviets.
1960 buildings destroyed by the Soviets and replaced by a cinema and a canteen.
1992 moanstery restored.
2004 monastery officially granted the status of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church lavra.


The Sviatohirsk Lavra is named after Sviatohirsk (Holy Hill) where it is located on, nearby town Sviatohirsk was also named after this hill. Lavra means cave monastery and is given to all monasteries which started with hermits living in caves. In this case, there is a rock with steep cliffs on banks of Seversky Donets River opposite the city. The hermits cut their caves into the soft gypsum and chalk, which created a swiss cheese of caves and passages, with several windows opening from caves in the middle of the cliff to the river. Today numerous buildings were erected on top of the hill and at its foot, the architecture is typical for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church: white buildings with lots of towers with golden and green cupolas and onion domes.

As the building were destroyed several times during the 20th century, there are almost no remains form earlier times. The only part of the monastery which is older than 100 years are actually the caves.

The entrance to the caves is located at the foot of the hill near the cathedral. There is an iron door with a widow above. Through the narrow passage behind we reach numerous cells on both sides of the passage. The main passage goes uphill underground and after 500 steps it reaches the top of the hill.