Antoniy Caves

Eastern Ukraine

The Antoniy Caves, Chernihiv's answer to Kyiv's Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra, lurk beneath the ground a short walk north of the Trinity Monastery, under the early 11th-century Illinska Church. The caves consist of 315m of passageways, galleries and chapels constructed from the 11th to 13th centuries. These are very different from those in Kyiv in that they lack both dead mummies and, for the most part, live tourists.

The conditions here were too cold and humid to support mummification. Instead, the bones of monks killed during the Mongol invasion are preserved in a windowed sarcophagus; touching the sarcophagus is considered good luck. The cave's benefactor and namesake, St Antony of Pechersk, also helped burrow the Lavra caves.

To get to the church, get off trolleybus 8 at the stop before the Trinity Monastery bell tower and follow the dirt path downhill through the park across the street from the bus stop.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Eastern Ukraine attractions

1. Trinity Monastery

0.18 MILES

About 2km southwest of St Catherine's Church you'll spot the 58m bell tower of the Troyitsko-Illynsky Monastery (Trinity Monastery). It's worth climbing…

2. Krasna Ploshcha


Life in Chernihiv revolves around the huge Krasna pl (Red Sq). As with its Moscow namesake, there is nothing remotely bolshie in the word 'red', which…

3. Dytynets

1.21 MILES

From Krasna pl it's a three-minute walk southeast along pr Myru to the old historic core, known as the Dytynets ('citadel' in old Russian). Today it's an…

4. Collegium

1.25 MILES

Once a major theology school set up on the orders of tsar Peter the Great with the money of hetman (Cossack chieftain) Ivan Mazepa in 1700 (when the two…

5. Boryso-Hlibsky Cathedral

1.27 MILES

With a helmet-shaped cupola typical of Kyivan Rus church architecture, the 12th-century cathedral is one of the earliest tributes to the first Russian…

6. Tarnovsky History Museum

1.35 MILES

The charmingly old-fashioned museum traces local material history from paleolithic bones to the post-apocalyptic self-made shields and helmets of Maidan…