Inkerman Cave Monastery of St. Clement

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The Inkerman Monastery of St. Clement, located near the city of Inkerman at the mouth of the Black River, is built into the natural caves and hollows in the cliff face carved by the river. The name “Inkerman” is Turkish meaning cave fortress, although the city itself is located in the Crimean peninsula, a territory currently under dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

The current monastery was founded in 1850 on the site of a medieval Byzantine monastery where the relics of St. Clement were supposedly kept before their removal to San Clemente by Saints Cyril and Methodius. The early Christians are supposed to have kept the relics in a grotto which could be visited only on the anniversary of his death.

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Photo credit: Alexxx Malev/Flickr

The original Byzantine monastery was probably founded in the 8th century by icon-venerators fleeing persecution in their homeland. It had eight chapels of several stories and an inn accessed by a stairway. The monastery was closed after the fortress on top of the hill was conquered by the Turks in 1475, and it fell in disrepair. In 1850 Crimea was transferred to the Russian Empire and a new monastery was founded on the same location. The monastery was closed during the Soviet era and several of its churches were destroyed in the 1927 Crimean earthquakes. During the Second World War, the caves housed the officers of a Soviet army defending Sevastopol.

The monastery reopened in 1991, after the collapse of communism and when Ukraine became independent.

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Photo credit: Alexxx Malev/Flickr

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Sources: Wikipedia / Show Caves

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