The chalk churches

The chalk churches is an archaeological site and a cave complex particularly important for the history of Christianity in our country. It is believed that Basarabi Cave Complex houses the first church and the first cells of a monastery, from Romania.

An archaeological site from Dobrogea of ​​the X-XI centuries

The ensemble, consisting of rooms and galleries, is carved into a chalk hill near the quarry extraction of chalk in the town of Napa, near the station. It lies at a distance of 15 km from the Black Sea, on the right bank of the Danube - Black Sea.

The ensemble, consisting of rooms and galleries, is carved into a chalk hill near the quarry extraction of chalk in the town of Napa, near the station. It lies at a distance of 15 km from the Black Sea, on the right bank of the Danube - Black Sea.

Short history

Discovery of the first rooms of the complex from Murfatlar was discovered on June 11, 1957, following the extension of chalk quarry nearby. Crashing down some bank chalk was discovered first B1 church, located at a higher level than any other, and then the other. The settlement date of settlement could be based on an inscription in the nave B4, namely leat 6500, that year 992..


Churches and galleries carved into the chalk hill from Basarabi-Murfatlar is located on the northwestern slope of the hill Tibisirul at a distance of several dozen meters from the Danube - Black Sea and near the great wave of rock.

On September 1, 1960, at Basarabi-Murfatlar shipyard was taken over by the Department of Historical Monuments, which opened a site restoration part known at that time. Steps have been taken to isolate the complex from the rest of the pit and to remove water leakage. Preparatory work for the conditions of conservation and excavations planned around their other discoveries, have ended in on December 15, 1960.

In 1961, all Basarabi-Murfatlar cave was given the care of the Archaeological Institute, and then in the last five months of the year, National Monuments care. The following year, in 1962, were brought to light two other pools career chalk on whose walls were discovered crosses.

Following excavations was unveiled a composite structure of rooms, galleries, tombs and houses, chaotically distributed according pools chalk drawing. The complex can be divided into three main sections depending on the terrain: steep rooms carved into the chalk hill, the massive peninsula and the rest.

The site team was made up of Ion Barnea and Virgil Bilciurescu Petre Diaconu Adrian Radulescu Radu Florescu. They were taken releveur of inscriptions and drawings found by that date, to draw the general plan and topographic sections were made. Pottery, household items, objects carved from chalk, and even whole sections cut from the walls of chalk were transported to the Regional Museum of Archeology Museum Dobrogea and Bucharest. It was also erected a shed to protect the church entrance B1 front which was kept at that time an inscription.


Consolidation and conservation works continued, but were eventually discontinued for lack of funds. Construction protection assembly from Basarabi-Murfatlar cave was not completed, it covers only one quarter of the complex, namely the south-west, and breathable.

Architecture cave complex

Massif peninsula is a rectangular block of chalk, with each side every 9.50 meters, located northwest of steep chalk hill and comprising three superimposed churches (B2, B3, B4). The three churches communicate via galleries: Church B4, located at the lowest elevation in the entire complex, communicate with chapel two church B3 through a waterbed rectangular ceiling, which we can not say if it will be there during historical complex or if due to recent collapses.


Similarly, two of the church chapel of the church B2 B3 communicate through manifold H. Also Within these three levels there are a large number of related premises and churches B3 and B4 have their own separate entrance, located on the north facade the massive peninsula.

Church 1 - B1

B1 church has a plan tri-divided (narthex, nave and altar), with about 6 meters long and 2 meters wide. Entry is carved in the steep wall at a considerable distance from the limestone basin in front of it. After releasing sterile layer, the only way to reach it are platforms timber specially designed for this purpose.


Church altar is oriented to the east and the entrance is through the northern side of the narthex. There are no windows to the outside; Communication is made only through said door. The limestone church is dug much deeper than the threshold, so were arranged intermediate stages.

There are still: crosses of various sizes and types (Maltese simple in high relief, inscribed in a circle), mostly concentrated in the narthex, on both sides of the entrance in the nave, a drawing consists of two squares, one is included in the other with three graphite inside runic; on March 29, 2003 is still kept an inscription RUNIC currently exfoliated on the upper entrance in the nave.

On discovery, on the south wall of the narthex preserved various designs animal (horses and rabbits), Cyrillic and Cyrillic inscriptions mixed with graphite runic, all disappeared after peeling wall.

Rooms - C

This section of the complex includes two rooms (C1 and C2). They are dug at a level below that of the church B1, the same steep, and before entering the pool was dug another draw. As in the case of B1 church, he was released once the layer of sterile access platforms have been provided. Entry is oriented NE-SW. There is in this case a threshold, but the limestone of the camera C1, the first of them does not require an intermediate step.

There are still crosses (mostly type Maltese), drawings livestock of various types and kinds (horses, wild animals, two animals mated), a boot, a human face with Asian features drawings of dragons twisted spirals, a simple dragon and various graphite runic inscriptions, mostly composed of several letters. Above the entrance vaulted room is carved in high relief C2 a Maltese cross with a simple cross drawn inside them. The drawings are concentrated on the walls of the room C1. C2 there is no room in a drawing nor an inscription. Only leaf right of entry connecting the two rooms is drawn silhouette of another dragon entwined.

Church 2 - B2

B2 church is built on top of the mountain. Also it has a structure tricompartimentata altar, nave and narthex, with the altar facing south-southeast. It is 4 meters in length and 2.20 meters in width. Is in a state of ruin since the moment of discovery: it keeps only the bottom wall (maximum level reaches 1.50 m) thresholds and some traces of chalk blocks inside the altar and nave.

There are still only drawings on the walls of the nave altar; narthex walls were not preserved. These drawings represent horses, horses and horsemen, all straight lines and no sketch books and gnats. No inscriptions. On discovery, is preserved in blocks of chalk and poles remains discovered in the nave some crosses and inscriptions slave.

Church 3 - B3

This system of galleries and rooms is digging the same massive chalk called " massive peninsula " in its medial. Communication between the two levels (the church the church B2 and B3) was made via the manifold H probably, the upper end of which opens into the SW side of the vestibule of the church B2. From this level, the gallery runs in the niche of the church B3, ending with an opening in the second chapel church joined B3.

The structure of the second level is composite. The main entrance opens into the nave B3 (2.50 m long, 2 m wide and 2.10 m high) with vault semiciclindru. The altar is also carved in the form of semicircular vaulted apse-shaped; They are dug in the pavement three rectangular recesses, and the spindle is kept in a pedestal, perhaps Holy Table.

B3 forms the nave of two openings in the form of doors, both the SV drilled in the wall. The first one gives access to the first chapel, which is digging a grave in parallel with the NE wall and corner V descends through the second stage in a secondary gallery, " Gallery snail " . The first chapel southeast communicate with the second chapel.

The second opening of the nave B3 make the switch in the second chapel, segmented into 3 compartments through rapids and traces of walls possible, keep only the lower level. The ceiling of the first compartment is supported by a column. Another opening a window niche transformed unites altar B3 of the second chapel. in the wall of the chapel is dug is of a grave.

In the nave are preserved various types of crosses (simple point and lobed, and a Maltese cross surrounded by a square), so-called styling of a bull's head, a rider armed with spear or bow and arrow, horses and other animals, geometric motifs, others (including types of swastikas, pentagrams), a boot or leg, a stylized water bird carved in high relief, and numerous runic inscritii in graphite, with variable length. altar not preserved than a cross drawn on the axis Exedra, flanked by other crosses lower. first chapel are preserved simple crosses, whether or not the ornaments, the upper half of a cross with the text IC HC and outline an animal (probably horse), whose head is not kept entirely.

Ship floor B3 church was decorated with parallel lines toward the altar. The ceiling of the same ship, the first chapel ceiling and the ceiling of the second and they are decorated with parallel lines. in the side walls of the nave are kept two circular holes, which are supposed to have been used to support rods for a veil.

Church 4 - B4

B4 church is located on the lower level of " massive peninsula " ; It has a length of 7 meters and width of 3.50 meters. The entrance facade is carved in the northwest of the mountain. The structure of this final level consists of nave, altar and a tomb they stand. Church altar is oriented towards ESE and aisle is vaulted semi cylinder.

The vessel is divided by clusters of columns; some of which are dug, but others are built in blocks of chalk. It is considered that the first three columns and column separate SSV ADOS pronave wall of the nave, since they form three arches. So nave as the most spacious church, ceiling or resting on other 5 columns.

It is assumed that the ceiling of the nave was dug from two vaults, each half-sleeve, connected to the columns; on discovery, most of it was collapsed. The ceiling is also vaulted altar.

The altar is designed as an apse, as well as church altar B1 and B3. Entry is by three arches, which in turn rests on a threshold; a threshold step is attached in front of the central arch, to facilitate access. inside the altar are three blocks of chalk into its adjoining semicircular wall NE, E and SE; N and S in the altar two brackets are drilled in the upper part of the wall. There were also benches along the two side walls of the nave.

B4 church are preserved various kinds of crosses " small leaf are plotted on the left of the entrance in the nave and the right side wall thereof NV, the largest Maltese are carved in relief on the lower side of the columns " ; also are preserved runic inscriptions in graphite, inscritii slave and slave mixed with graphite runic inscriptions.

Iconostasis arches are marked on the walls of the nave, with two symmetrical belts ferruginous red paint. Part of the ceiling of the nave are decorated with parallel lines, especially in connection with the wall.

Galleries - E

The galleries E includes a large number of interconnecting rooms. It is located at the same altitude as the church B1, at the end of V complex. Entering this part of the complex is still in steep chalk in the southwest extremity. The walls of the first room and galleries are falling down, so you can not know exactly what was true gateway. The structure of this system of galleries is composite, the rooms are of different heights, and the ceiling is carved and it differently.

Were dug several graves, and they randomly arranged, there same blocks of chalk dug in the corners or along walls, and numerous niches and thresholds. Also they were sometimes built blocks of chalk, mortar of the same material.

There are still one inscription RUNIC 5 graphite and a Maltese cross. This part of the complex was first affected by the phenomenon of delamination and implosion, so the walls are peeling. On discovery, it preserved a large number of crosses (including a special dotted with holes), runic inscriptions, figures of men without depending on religious figures of Oranta and alleged " holy " , bird, tree, dragons coiled , etc.

The rest complex

It also uncovered traces of a home or church ceiling collapsed at B1 NNE church, but outside of two walls keep only the lower level were not found other blocks of chalk. E Church B1 keeps a niche.

Another house, whose traces can not be seen today, was identified in SSV galleries E. latter have walls built of blocks of chalk, ground floor glued and present traces of a hearth. Also, the rest of the complex were discovered tombs disorderly distributed or grouped in a small cemetery, today impossible to identify or because consolidating concrete or because Fenders that does not allow access to all levels.

There are still two stylized animal drawings on the facade of the massive peninsula NV, the lower right side. Their right still see traces an inscription, written probably mixed with graphite Slavonic runic characters. On discovering monuments are other drawings.

The walls of the extraction tank in front of the church were traced drawings of cross B1 (wall N), a boot and a horse (SE wall). Front steep chalk around the entrance to the church B1, is preserved in a cross from the right side, followed by two smaller crosses and an inscription in Cyrillic capital letters, recalling a possible dating (since 6500, ie 992 AD .); the left of the entrance there was a cross.

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