In addition to the chalk stacks and caves known as the Malye Divy, there are also the Bolshye Divy, which now also incorporate a church. Whereas the Divnogorsky Uspensky Cave-Monastery has since been returned to the Orthodox Church, the church at the Bolshye Divy is still run as part of the Divnogorye Museum-Reserve. In addition to the church and the beautiful natural surroundings, the museum-reserve also has exhibitions on the history and traditions of the area.
Our Lady of Sicily Icon Church
In 1831 an icon depicting the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared in the cave complex known as the Bolshye Divy at a time when a cholera epidemic had broken out in the area. The icon was then credited with ending the epidemic. It was believed that this icon was bought to the area in the 15th century from Sicily by two monks who founded the nearby Divnogorsky Uspensky Cave-Monastery. Therefore the icon became known as the Our Lady of Sicily Icon, or the Our Lady of Sicily-Divnogorye Icon.
After the icon was found the Our Lady of Sicily Icon Church was created in the cave which became part of the Divnogorsky Uspensky Cave-Monastery in 1856. It became a popular pilgrimage site and services were held in the church up until the 1930s, but afterwards it was allowed to fall into disrepair until it became part of the Divnogorye Museum-Reserve, which is remains part of today. The original Our Lady of Sicily Icon has been lost but a 19th century copy is displayed in the church. The church is located immediately next to Platform 143km.
Slightly to the south of the Our Lady of Sicily Icon Church is a recreation of a typical Russian estate, known as the Divnogorskoe Podvorye, the likes of which would have been found in the Voronezh area, between Russia and Ukraine in the 17th century. The museum details the traditions and everyday life of the people who would have lived in a house like this. It also holds master classes for a range of peasant handicrafts, plus various festivals.
Model of the Mayatskaya Fortress
In the 9th and 10th century the Mayatskaya Fortress was an oupost on the north-western board of the mighty Khazar Khanate. Today only the earthen mounds of the fortress remain, which are located to the north of the Our Lady of Sicily Icon Church. The ruins of the actual Mayatskaya Fortress are located to the north of the Our Lady of Sicily Icon Church.
‘From Nomads to Cities’ Archaeological Park
The Archaeological Park entitled ‘From Nomads to Cities’ recreates a mediaeval settlement complete with yurts and copies of mediaeval wares. The park also details the lives and customs of the Bolgar and Alan people who once lived here. To the north of the park is a chalk gorge with a depth of three metres, but be careful walking around here as there may be adders. The park is located to the north of the village of Divnogorye.
|Clock||09:30-18:00 (Saturdays until 21:00). 1 May to 10 Nov only. Four or five daily sessions for visiting the caves and the church.|