The English version of the Buila-Vanturarita National Park web page - September 2007



Pietei 7, Horezu Town, Valcea County

Tel.: 0250/860.157
Fax: 0250/860.180

Ovidenia Church – the Bats Cave (Saint Gregory the Decapollite) – Bistriţa

The oldest historical monument inside the Bats’ Cave is the small church Ovidenia. It was thought that the first church in the cave was built by the end of the 13th century, but it fell into ruin by the end of the 14th century, when the monks left the cave and built the Bolniţa Church, during the abbot from Tismana.

Ovidenia Church was founded between 1633-1635, but recent research established it was built at the same time when the remains of Saint Gregory the Decapolite were brought to Bistriţa Monastery, in 1497. The founder of the small church is thought to be the abbot Macarie, whose votif portrait was painted on the northern wall, beside the one of the abbot Daniil, the last restorator (in 1828, after other restorations in 1609 and 1769). Afterwards restorations were done in 1944-1945 and 1977-1978.

The church was built to serve as a religious place, but mostly to hold the “secrecy” of the monastery. Repeatedly hidden here were the remains of Saint Gregory the Decapolite, the treasures of the monastery and even the precious goods of the voyvods of the time when the country was in danger. For that purpose, a niche was built between the cave’s wall and the western wall of the church, whose entry was through the altary and it was built up and hidden after the precious goods were hidden there. Due to this hiding places several valuable books and art objects in which nowadays museums take pride in.

The church is built at the end of a small gallery separated from the main gallery of the cave, in a hidden place, hard to notice, and it is built partially from a brick wall, partially carved in the gallery’s walls.

Because of the structure of the gallery, Ovidenia does not comply with the specifics of the orthodox churches, having the nave towards north-west, instead of east. It is made only of a small nave (3 m x 2.20 m) and an altary, and in the lateral walls small niches were carved, simulating windows.

The painting, done in a Byzantine style, is in rather poorly preserved, because of the moisture in the cave, but also because of the tourists writing on its walls. Considering the year of foundation, it is possible that the painting of Ovidenia is the work of the same painters who made the Bolniţa Church (Dobromir and his apprentices Dumitru and Chirtop).

Page made by Kogayon Association from
Environmental Administration Found project

Page translated by Daniela Sargu & Alan Kerslake