The Anthony caves of the Troitsko-illinsky monastery in Chernihiv – is a monument of religious architecture X I – XIX centuries. They were founded in 1069 as a Christian cave monastery by Prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavich and the famous Church figure of the era of Kievan Rus, a native of the city of Liubech – Anthony of the caves. Initially the monastery was called Theotokos (Mother of God monastery). The chronicler claims that Anthony came to Chernihiv, fleeing from the wrath of the Prince of Kiev Izyaslav. He “loved” the Boldin hills and dug themselves a cave. The Foundation of the monastery was closely connected with a sharp rivalry between the two biggest cultural and political centers of the state – Kyiv and Chernihiv.
In Kiev at the same time, there was already the monastery of the caves, which have become very popular. Chernigov Prince Svyatoslav, in an effort to counter his capital the “mother of Russian cities”, with Anthony decided to create on the Boldin hills monastery similar to cave.
Intensive development of the monastery continued until the year 1239, when Chernihiv was destroyed by the Mongol-Tatars. Proof of this can be built in early X century II near the entrance to the cave stone Elias Church. Then came a period of decline, which continued until the X V I century. At this time, according to experts, the reconstruction of the monastery. Information about the repair of the caves at this time there.
Large-scale works on restoration of the iliinsky monastery began in 1649. Its initiator was the Chernihiv Colonel Stepan Podobaylo, the work was carried out at his expense. The most complex reconstruction refers to the period of the end of the X V III the beginning of the X IX century. In the result Anthony caves are a complex of underground passages and rooms with a total length of 350 meters, which are placed in the thickness of the Boldin hills (within the boundaries of the modern city). The depth of the caves varies from 2 to 12 meters relative to the surface. All underground facilities are located on two main levels. Geological conditions allowed the builders to create dungeons without additional fasteners and to ensure their longevity. This explains the presence of large areas of ancient galleries and other premises. On the walls of some of them recorded late medieval inscriptions-graffiti.
Of particular interest is the lower tier of caves. This site is located to the East of the altar of the Church of Theodosius of Totma and has a length of about 100 meters. He remained in earth embodiment, with the exception of three meters, fortified brick walls near the exit to the surface. This site was also substantially rebuilt. It is known that this part of the complex at different times served as an underground necropolis and the home of the hermit monks.
Another ancient site to the Anthony caves is located on the second floor of the complex. It includes excavation of galleries and spaces between the churches of Theodosius of Totma and of St Nikola sviatosha. During the research there were found an ancient underground Church-the ossuary is quite impressive dimensions (length 12 m, width – from 5 to 2 meters at an average elevation of 3 meters). It was abandoned in antiquity and were not reconstructed.
From the ossuary to the South, towards the entrance of the Elias, the Church departs broad and high (3 metres long) gallery, which could be at the time, the main entrance to the cave.
In the X V III-XIX centuries most of the dungeon was renovated. Thus, a significant part of ancient communications was destroyed, and the remaining was rebuilt. The result was a completely lost their original appearance. At the time he built three underground Church, faced with brick. The greatest interest in the architectural attitude is the Church of Theodosius of Totma.
Its walls and vaults are decorated in the Ukrainian Baroque style (semicircular niches, cornices, columns, arches, pilasters). The interior is similar to the facade of the Trinity Cathedral, which since the end of the X V II century, is the main underground temple of the Troitsko-illinsky monastery. He probably served as a model for the builders of the underground Church. Church of Theodosius of Totma was not only the main Cathedral of the Troitsko-illinsky monastery, but also the largest underground Church in the left-Bank Ukraine. Its dimensions are impressive: the highest elevation in the narthex – 8,5 meters, length – 15,5 m. The Church has choirs located behind the arch on the North side.
Two other underground churches – Anthony cave (length 11,7 m, width 4 m, height 2,68 m) and of St Nikola sviatosha have a simpler architecture.
High humidity preclude the possibility of the device in the cave churches wooden iconostases. Their role was played by brick walls with metal icons on them. The Royal doors were made of metal (preserved in the churches of Anthony and Theodosius). The main shrines Anthony cave traditionally considered to be cell Anthony cave and a tomb with bones of monks killed in 1239 by the Mongol-Tatars.
Since 1967 Anthony cave became part of the Chernihiv architectural and historical reserve.