We have all heard of the famous monolithic churches, monolithic, or rupestral carvings into the rock. But who has had the chance to visit?
These rare churches built in a block of stone are usually on a hill or mountain slope and their architectural complexity can be compared to real cathedrals.
Here is a selection of these mysterious and ancestral buildings:
1. The monolithic church of Aubeterre (Charente, France)
This church is carved into a mighty cliff overlooking the village since the eighth century, it was enlarged in the twelfth century by a community of Benedictine monks.
2. The rock churches of Ivanovo (Bulgaria)
A group of churches, chapels and monasteries carved into the rock, near the village of Ivanovo in Bulgaria. The oldest church dates from the twelfth century.
3. The rupestral churches of Cappadocia (Turkey)
In a landscape sculpted by erosion, the Göreme valley is home to cave sanctuaries, evidence of Byzantine art, as well as dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground cities, remnants of a traditional human habitat dating back to the fourth century.
4. The church of Bobastro (Spain)
The rupestral Mozarabic Bobastro church was built in the tenth century, it is located north of the province of Malaga in Spain.
5. The monastery of Geghard (Armenia)
Geghard, of the Holy Lance of Geghard, is an Armenian monastery located near Yerevan. The complex was founded in the thirteenth century. The special feature of the monastery is to present an underground section in which priests fulfill their liturgy.
6. The church Temppeliaukio (Finland)
Located east of Hietaniemi Cemetery, Temppeliaukio is a modern monolithic stone church, located in the Etu-Töölö district of the Finnish capital.
7. The Church of Saint George (Ethiopia)
The Church of Saint George is one of eleven rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia a village located at an altitude of 2600 m in the former province of Lasta. It was carved in the rock in the early thirteenth century and is the most famous and the most recent of the eleven churches of the “new Jerusalem”.
8. The monolithic church of Saint-Emilion (Gironde, France)
The monolithic church of Saint-Emilion is a former church of the eleventh century entirely excavated in the rock, located in the town of Saint-Emilion, well known for its Bordeaux wine .
9. The troglodyte church of Our Lady of Hungary (Hungary)
The troglodyte church of Our Lady of Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarok Nagyasszonya sziklatemplom) is located on one of the hills of Budapest, the capital, overlooking the Szabadság híd bridge which crosses the Danube. It is housed in an underground cavity.
10. The troglodyte chapel of the castle of Valmer (Indre-et-Loire)
Located near Amboise, the “Chateau de Valmer” is not the most famous castle of the Loire. Yet it contains a nugget. A primitive chapel dug into the tuff in 1524 by Jehan Binet, head waiter of the King and Queen of Navarre.