History of Rozhirche
Old photograph of the cave monastery in Rozhirche. Circa 1930s
According to various historical estimates, the cave monastery in Rozhirche was built during the 13-14th centuries. The first detailed exploration of the cave system was conducted in the 19th century by ethnographers Ivan Vahylevych and Vasyl Karpovych. Their works pointed to the historical importance of the place and paved the way for a more fundamental research in the 20th century. Archeologists from all over the country then explored the caves to bear theories about its structure.
Locals have their story of the monastery's appearance. Legends often told by villagers state that the monastery was founded by male monks, who fleed Kyiv Rus that was destroyed in the Tatar-Mongol invasion of 1237-1240. The monks settled in the quiet and desolate Carpathian forests to devote their lives to God. Moreover, the 1761 description of the Diocese of Przemysl states that this place was a home for the Saint Basil women's monastery. Unfortunately, the religious landmark didn't survive till nowadays. There is one more landmark with historical value on the site - the hillfort of Old Rus that dates back to the 16th century. It is located on one of the peaks of the hills near the cave monastery.
Rozhirche itself is a tiny village with the population of 566 located in the Lviv region. The first written mentioning of the village is dated 1460, largely thanks to the cave monastery. Rozhirche lies near Stryi River, known to many avid travelers that want to reach the monastery without the assistance of guides and travel agencies. The long metal bridge over Stryi is another landmark here, as it’s a perfect spot to catch breathtaking views of water and mountains in complete silence. The local cave monastery is unique and mentioned in local and foreign guides about the Carpathian mountains. It’s always better to involve a local guide who can lead the way and answer all the questions about the story of the place, but if you’re the one for solo traveling, it’s just as possible.
Guides that write about Rozhirche often omit that the cave monastery hasn’t been made completely out of stone. The remnants of the tracks and trunks for massive doors point out that the church could be reached by first going through two doors. The windows, most likely made from round stained glass, also had a wooden frame with lattices. The best time to visit Rozhirche cave monastery is summer, as in late autumn till spring the weather in the region could prevent from enjoying the scene to the fullest.
How to get there
While Rozhirche village is a popular tourist destination, it is still quite hard to get to. There are several routes and ways to get to the village from Kyiv or Lviv, suitable for travelers with cars or those who prefer to rely on local transport. The Lviv-Skole shuttle bus is one of the popular ways to reach Rozhirche. You need to get off at a stop near the turn to Nyzhnia Stynava.
It’s better to ask fellow passengers or the driver to drop you off near the stop that leads to the Rozhirche cave monastery to avoid any complications. Then, you will follow the adventurous route over Stryi and through the Carpathian forest. Many locals and tourists use this route, so it’s possible that you won’t be the only one on the way to the cave monastery. A detailed route with checkpoints is available here:
If you prefer the car, take the M06 Kyiv-Chop highway in the direction of the Stryi ring-road. Take a turn after you see the Morshyn sign, and in Myrtiuky village turn right in the direction of Rozhirche. Here’s the map of the route made by the local traveler:
Where to stay
As a tiny village, Rozhirche itself doesn’t have plenty of places to stay at. However, locals and avid travelers who have visited this place numerous times advise Tsisarske Urochyshe. It is also the most popular hotel near Rozhirche on TripAdvisor. The villa lies in 5 minutes of walking distance from Rozhirche city center. The facilities of Tsisarske Urochyshe include a designated place for smoking and parking.
Tsisarske Urochyshe Villa has 15 rooms decorated in the rustic style. Room facilities include heating, flat-screen TV, an iron with ironing board and a stone fireplace. There's also a kitchen with a microwave, an electric kettle, a dishwasher, coffee, tea and a fridge. A game room and a pool are available here for guests with children. Like in many other places in the Carpathians, Wi-Fi is available here for free. You can look up more options available on booking.com.
Sources: photo-lviv.in.ua, pysana.com, maps by lviv-outside.blogspot.com.
Photo sources: photo-lviv.in.ua, ua-travels.in.ua, lvivekskurs.blogspot.com, shutterstock.com, booking.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.