The Hermit Caves of Romania

noridamar (CC BY-SA 2.0)

noridamar (CC BY-SA 2.0)

These are awesome. Be sure to head over to Mysterious Universe to see more photos.

via Mysterious Universe:

Romania consists of 41 counties, and situated in the southern interior is one called Buzău.  This county is home to some 400,000 people and it hosts the southern end of the Eastern Carpathian Mountain range.  It also hosts, in those mountains, a wonderful gem of culture and architecture.  Several, in fact.

There’s a commune, known as Colţi, nestled into the curvature of the Carpathian Mountains (yes, the mountain range that loaned its name to the evil Vigo the Carpathian of Ghostbusters II, among other characters) which consists of a number of small villages.  These villages, such as Aluniş and Nucu, are the surviving remnants of an ancient troglodyte community.

Now, lest you take that in the wrong direction, the people who lived there circa 1050-1280 AD were anything but ignorant.  The word troglodyte applies because they dwelled in caves carved into the mountain.  There are a number of cave complexes through the region of Colţi, consisting of dwellings, storage spaces, and churches.  In fact, the oldest surviving Eastern Orthodox Church is a cave in Aluniş, dedicated to the Decollation of Saint John the Baptist.

The other reason this ancient community of shepherds can be called troglodytes, is because they were, essentially, hermits.

The earliest inhabitants of these cave communities practised a mystical tradition of prayer from the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine, known as Hesychasm.  Its literal translation from Greek is ‘to keep the stillness’, and was a form of deep prayer meditation.  You may gather from the definition that Hesychasm requires a certain solitude, and in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God.

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