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The cave monastery of Eski-Kerman

Just six kilometers from Mangupa is another medieval town Eski-Kerman (translated as "old castle"). The small settlement appeared here in the VI century, at the same time were built fortifications, although the nature of looking after the protection of the place: on all sides by steep cliffs, climb to the city of crevices in which the upper and built a defensive wall. In VIII century the city was occupied by the Khazars, the people rebelled against the invaders. In response, the Khazars burned the town, but it reappeared again and reached its heyday in the XI-XII centuries. At that time it was a major trade and craft center, through the Eski-Kerman road came from the steppe regions and the southern coast of the Chersonese and the port Kalamita. But in 1299 he died in the flames of fire, under the onslaught of the troops of the Golden Temnik Nogaya.

The city once existed six cave churches. We start our journey from the main gate, which you can climb the old road, on her eyelids move loaded carts - in the rock are visible ruts from the wheels. The road goes along the eastern canyon and climbs three flights. Turning first to the second march, seen carved in the rock tomb. This is the beginning of the burial complex, which consists of a number of cave churches, chapels and shrines. At the beginning of the third march is a large cave temple, carved in the form of the trefoil. Used to input led stone staircase, as well as the floor above the level of the road for two and a half meters. In the eastern part of the temple was a semi-circular apse, in the center of which survived to the deepening of the throne, in the wall is a niche for Conch altarpiece. Apse separated from the rocky walls of the temple wall, forming a vaulted ceiling cornice. In the temple there is no western wall, perhaps it was wooden. Along the northern and southern walls stretch bench. On the south wall near the apse has carved altar, and in the western part of the wall - a niche. Next to the temple - many tombs and shrines.

Road leads to the main gate of the city, next to which is another cave temple. It was carved around the same time as the previous one, perhaps, they created the same master. The temple gate of the city stretches from north to south. Enter it traditionally located on the west side. As in the first temple, half-circle apse bark separated from the walls of the temple rock piers. See, originally carved out of rock, but later he was shot down and overturned. Altar wall made of wood. In the floor, to the south of the apse, cleared the tomb. In the north wall is carved bench, and in the south - cut through the entrance to a small room with a window and the bed, maybe it's cell clerk. Next to the temple made a three tombs, and on the sides of the gate on the battle sites built two small chapels. And church and chapels were built simultaneously with the fortress.

Far from the main gate, in the eastern part of the rocky passage can view a large cave temple, which is called the "courtroom" or "mock trial". It is a complex of adjacent caves. Inside the temple were three doors in the western part. Inbox fell into a spacious hall, with four columns supporting the ceiling, now they have fallen. The columns of the temple space is divided into three parts, in the central part of the eastern wall of the apse cut down from the throne and the bishop's chair. Altar was a stone, but was completely damaged, survived only its foundation. In the middle of the altar barrier - the threshold of the Holy Doors, on both sides kept the grooves for installation of wooden iconostasis. In ancient times the apse was painted with frescoes. Even in the XIX century explorer NI Repnikov examined under a layer of soot halo and the silhouette of a depiction of John the Baptist from Deesis. In the floor of the temple have been cut down a few graves.

Along the north wall stretches bench. To the left of the apse, baptistery was: in the north-eastern part of the font is preserved, the water flowed into it from furrow in the wall. In ancient times the corners of the baptistery of the standing columns.

From the central hall to get to the other three facilities, located on the edge of the precipice. They remain engraved in the rock benches and two tombs. One of the doorways displays to the precipice, where once there was a wooden balcony, which was down the stairs. In the third room - the chapel of the apse is preserved with a rocky threshold, the wooden base of the altar and stone benches barriers.

Scientists speculate that the central hall and chapel - the oldest buildings. They appeared in the XI-XII centuries. Then, when residents in the city became more church expanded to the north and east, connecting it to the chapel.

Along the eastern edge of the plateau stretch of the cave-casemates. Of these, the head of the enemy were flying arrows, falling rocks, pouring hot tar. Among the defensive caves staged Church of the Assumption. It was named so because they remained part of the ancient frescoes depicting The Assumption of Our Lady. First, this cave was used as a storeroom, it found a tank for storing whether the water, whether grain from the top of its closed-stone. In XIII-XIV centuries, the cave converted into a temple, possibly in memory of the fallen defenders, it came to pray warriors Eski-Kerman.

Entrance to the temple is located in south-eastern side. To the right - a niche of the apse with hewn from the rock throne, and an indentation for the relics. In ancient times the altar was separated wooden iconostasis. Church of the fresco, which are described left NI Repnikov: "On the piers of the apse - the Annunciation. In the end - Deesis in growth with fiery six-winged cherubim. Here, the remains of saints in the growth of the frieze. Above the throne - the Christ Child in a bowl and two angels with processional fans. The bottom panel held ornament of parallel zigzag lines of red and black, forming a triangle. In the niche of the altar - a depiction Odigitrii. Near full height of the figure of the martyr warrior with a spear in his hand behind his shoulder, a round shield, near the same figure of St. . Next to the corner at the top of the wall is occupied by the composition of the Purification, the bottom three figures of the Old Testament prophets with scrolls in their hands. At the bottom of all images was ornamental band - the panel of the triangles. Land against the wall of the apse occupied a large composition of the Dormition. Here is a towel and a frieze of triangles. On the ceiling of two great songs - Baptism and Christmas. The first figure of John, pouring water, and flying fish, the second against the backdrop of mountain scenery, has suffered greatly. In addition to these tracks, the butt of the ceiling and apse is preserved fragment of the medallion with a bust of Christ. Stylistically the painting belongs to the XII century ".

After the death of the city residents from the neighboring village Cherkes-Kerman again began to use the cave for commercial purposes. In the center of the north-western wall of the niche was cut down, and at its base on the floor arranged tarapan. But, obviously, he acted briefly, because the murals were not completely destroyed, but only scratched the Muslims.

Two hundred yards from the Church of the Assumption "in the defensive wall there was much to the city cemetery. Here in a single block of limestone carved the most famous temple of Eski-Kerman - Three riders. It frescoes depicting the three riders, so he wears the same name. In contrast the northern entrance to the same block of hewn tomb (on other assumptions, the sacristy) . The church has a trefoil. semicircular apse is now partially demolished, retained only the base of rocky obstacles in which to insert the wooden parts of the iconostasis. The stone pillars have formed the top of the apse arch. In the center of the altar shows the basis for the throne, in the wall of the apse cut seat and niche. In the southern the wall was an altar. Along the walls runs a stone bench. found himself in the temple of light through the windows, carved into the southern and northern walls. The floor of the temple found the grave, two adults and children. They are tied with the images on the northern wall. There are different versions about the who is depicted on the mural. Some archaeologists believe that the holy warriors Stratilat Martyrs Theodore, George and Demetrius of Thessalonica (or Theodore Tiron). OI Dombrowski suggested that the fresco next to the St. George depicts the local soldiers who distinguished themselves in defending the city . In their memory carved temple-Martiri, where they are buried.

Today the image on the mural is almost impossible to consider. And in the last century, they described the NI Repnikov: "On the north wall, above the tomb, a fresco image of three soldiers of the martyrs. According to a ledge under it, the Greek inscription on a white field with black paint" Izsecheny and written by the holy martyrs of Christ for salvation the soul and the remission of sins ", below ornamental panel of parallel zigzag lines of red and black colors form a triangle.

Images are written on a blue background, strongly affected by deliberate damage. Names of the images are stored. Riders in the cuirass from behind his left shoulder boards and a cape, with spears in their hands, going toward the altar. Average serpent strikes, kept the spear side edges upward. Closest to the altar has the figure of a horse on the rump a boy holding a bow from the saddle. Harness horses, rich, tails tied.

Do not assume that all churches in the ancient city were cave. At the highest part of the settlement once adorned the great temple, erected in the VI century, in the form of a three-nave basilica, rectangular in plan. In the east wall by three apses, rounded inside and outside pentagonal. They were fenced off with stone predaltarnoy barrier, decorated with carved patterns. Thin columns of the temple was divided into three naves. Polish Ambassador Martin Bronevsky wrote: "The significance of the past and the glory Eski-Kerman indicates temple, decorated with marble and serpentine-tion columns, although it has fallen to the ground and destroyed." The basilica was reconstructed several times, and died in VIII or IX century. But this place has retained its sanctity, so there were burying their dead. In the western part of the southern nave of the former basilica built a small chapel, around which the parked Family Tomb

To the west of Eski-Kerman, near the village Strong is another cave temple. It is carved into a rocky promontory jutting into the upper valley. The temple is carved into the rock stairs. The church is called "donor of the Temple." Donator, or Churchwarden - these are people whose funds were held in churches or monasteries. In the temple on the wall to the left of the entrance preserved representation of princely family, which founded it. Perhaps the crypt, carved out near the temple, was a family tomb.

To the temple is a stone staircase. The central part of the temple and side, the north, separated by ridges in the wall and columns, from which only traces remained on the ceiling. Horseshoe apse is shifted somewhat to the south, it adjoins to the throne Cintron trapezoidal shape along the walls are carved bench. On the walls and ceiling preserved fresco XII-XIV centuries. Style of painting, according to researcher NI Repnikov and skill of the capital of the artist. "Images on a blue background, in the apse above the throne of Christ baby in the cup on the sides of the five saints in Groin robes with a scroll in his hands and Archdeacon with a censer. The conch - lap Deesis. On the ceiling of a half-circle back to back with an altar - The Annunciation. For him to ceiling tracks Baptism and Presentation. As to the northern part of the ceiling in a lush, ornate pattern in the five medallions belt shape. Among them are preserved with the image Ermolov, Panteleimon, the apostles Peter and Paul. along this section of this part of the ceiling tracks anguish Theodore Stratilata before the king and Beheading it.

On the northern wall in the western arkosolii slight remnants of the figures of St. George and Demetrios in the growth in military attire with a fragment of a small figure between them ... On

Draft ceiling martyr in the princely attire and the Reverend in growth. In the narrow arkosolii the western wall of a fragment of the composition, representing the "donor of. It depicts four figures: two men and two women. In the center stands a young man in a rich red dress, in the right hand holds protsvetshy cross. To his right figure of a woman in nun's garb. Left preserved upper part of male figure: a cap on the head with a cloth top and a furry, white on the chest down ribbons with tassels on the ends, right hand resting on his chest. And next to the remnants of the image of women in a reddish dress with short sleeves to the elbow, her head adorned spiky kokoshnik, earrings in your ears. Side preserved Greek inscription "laid to rest".

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