The monastery was originally founded in 1051 when monk Anthony, in his search for solitude, excavated a cave within the hillside. Today it is still used for worship, providing a rare insight into Ukrainian Christianity of past and present.
Both tourists and Orthodox pilgrims flock to the Lavra (also known as the Monastery of the Caves) for its religious architecture, spiritual atmosphere and unique heritage. The monastery is split into two parts: one overground and one underground. The former includes several impressive buildings and a small museum, notably the Baroque style Dormiton Cathedral. However, it is the labyrinth of underground caves that has become a true shrine to Christianity. The catacombs were once a sanctuary for the community of monks, and are now a sacred burial site, holding religious relics and their founders’ mummified remains.