The Cave Complex Basarabi – Murfatlar, a rupestral assembly made up of six churches, a few spaces, galleries and Christian graves, all carved in the chalk massif is located near the quarry extraction in Murfatlar, Constanta County. It lays 15 kilometers away from the Black Sea coast, on the right bank of the Danube – Black Sea.
The cave churches complex is an important archaeological site for the history of Christianity in our country and specialists believe it hosts the first church and the first monastery cells in Romania.
In 1957, a complex of sanctum-dwellings, small churches, crypts and tombs, used from the 9th until 11th century, was discovered in the caves sculpted in a chalk hill called Tibisir. One of the worship places consists of altar, nave and narthex, with semicircular arches and another, a basilica with three naves, carved into limestone rock. There are many inscriptions graved on the walls in Old Slavic, Glagolitic and Cyrillic, some in Greek alphabet and some in Romanian.
The complex kept more signs of Christianity: starting with the simple crosses and continuing with a pair of priests, pilgrims and ending with the first representation of the Nativity, said representatives of the Directorate of Culture in Constanta for Adevarul. These proofs make the complex so unique in Romania. Beyond its archaeological significance the ensemble is considered the cornerstone for Christianity. Historians and archaeologists believe that in this very place, the basilicas have been a place of pilgrimage for soldiers, merchants and priests for hundreds of years.
Also in Murfatlar skeletons of Viking warriors were discovered. ‘Most likely, in Murfatlar were buried members of convoys from the south, the so-called road of Greece, the main trade route between northern and southern Europe, reveals the County Department of Culture’ website.
The walls of the second church preserve various signs and figures, such as crosses, mosquitoes and horse riders. On the other fragments were shown some crosses, some with delta heads, boots, a hawk that appears to sit on an animal or a fish marked with the sign of the cross.
A third church presents only a nave and an altar with several funerary chambers communicating with each other. On the walls of the funerary rooms was drawn a sailing ship with a human inside.
The fourth church is the largest. Here we find numerous crosses with simple forms, widened heads, triangle or split in two, human figures kneeling with raised arms, a pigeon, horses, intertwined dragons or a maze drawing.
There are a large number of inscriptions, most with runic, Cyrillic, Greek and Glagolitic characters. Chronologically, one of the two Greek graphs has a special importance, another bench-mark for Murfatlar’ monuments being the mentioning of the year 982. The fifth church has drawn crosses on the walls, fantastic animals, geometric signs, and the image of a saint on the left of the entrance.
By the end of this year, somewhere in October, full-size 3D replica churches in the Cave Complex will be exhibited at the National History Museum in Constanta in a permanent exhibition.