The origins of the Kostomarovsky Spassky Convent are not known for certain but it is believed to have been founded as a monastery in the 17th century by monks from Ukraine who settle here along with Cossacks. It is possible though that the monastery is actually much older and there is even a theory that it dates back to when Christianity was first being introduced to Russia.
The first actual written evidence of the monastery dates from the end of the 18th century when it is mentioned as a skete of the Belogorsky Voskresensky Monastery. After the Revolution the monastery was closed, although some monks secretly remained here. One such monk was the elder Pyotr who when discovered in the late 1930s was imprisoned and is said to have later died in prison. During the Second World War the former monastery was located in occupied territory and some local people are said to have hidden in the caves. Briefly after the war the Saviour Cathedral was permitted to reopen, but in 1959 it was once more closed under the anti-religious polices of Khruschev. In 1997 the territory was returned to the Orthodox Church and reopened, but as a convent rather than a monastery.
Miracle Image of the Saviour Cathedral
The convent’s main cathedral is the Miracle Image of the Saviour Cathedral which incorporates a cave decorated with domes, a belfry and icons over its entrance. The exact date it was created is unknown. Inside the cathedral holds an icon known as the Our Lady of Kostromarovo which is believed to have been given to the monastery by Emperor Alexander I. The icon was especially painted on metal so that it could be stored in the damp cave-cathedral. After the Revolution the icon was not destroyed but it was shot at six times and the bullet holes can still be seen.
St Seraphim of Sarov’s Church
As you walk further around the hill from the Miracle Image of the Saviour Cathedral you will pass several caves which were used as cells for the monks and eventually reach St Seraphim of Sarov’s Church. The church was first created in a cave in 1903. Its entrance features a green dome on a chalk tower.
At the end of the path is the cave-church known as the Confession Church. From the entrance it looks like just a small chapel, but inside is the longest cave in the whole complex. Its walls are decorated with ceramic icons which are not affected by the damp conditions.
“Seeking Out the Lost” Icon Church
Standing at the foot of the hill is the more standard “Seeking Out the Lost” Icon Church. This is a modern addition and takes the form of a single domed structure with an attached refectory.
Finally standing at the top of the hill is the small and simple Crucifixion Chapel. It is a modern addition built after the reopening of the convent and inside it houses a cross. Nearby at the very summit of the hill is another cross and from here you can enjoy good views of the surrounding chalk hills.
|Clock||09:00 – 17:00 (holidays and weekend 11:00 – 16:00)|