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Built in the 10th-11th centuries, Shoana Church is located on a rock spur of Chuana mountain, which rises above the Kuban river, seven kilometers north of Karachayevsk near Kosta Khetagurova village. This landmark of the early Middle Ages Christian architecture is part of the Karachay-Cherkess Open-Air Museum.

The Church is clearly visible from the Cherkessk-Dombay highway. The church's history is connected with the adoption of Christianity in Alania and the rise of Alans into the international political arena in the 10th-11th centuries, when relations were established with Byzantium, Georgia, and other countries.  It is believed that the Christian churches in Alania, especially the complicated and monumental ones (which demanded deep architectural knowledge), were constructed under the guidance of invited architects. Perhaps, later on, traditions were adopted by local masters as well.

Shoana Church is a comparatively small building (about 13 meters high) crafted in architectural traditions that were greatly influenced by the Byzantine architectural school.

The square of rock solid ground was initially too uneven and small for the planned building. The first step was erecting a massive stone retaining wall on the western side to serve as an artificial platform for the building.

Chuana Mountain also boasts a natural landmark — a yew grove watered by a local spring (the needle leaf yew tree is listed in the Red Book and protected by the state).

This region gave birth to several placenames: Chuana-Kaya (Chuana Rock), and Chuana-Suu (Chuana river), a tributary of the Kuban river. The name derives from the Karachaevo-Balkarsky word «chuana» meaning a sanctuary, high-set place. The region is also associated with the tale of Gilyastyrkha, a character of the Karachaevo-Balkarsky epochs who had his own fortress here, Chuana Kala (The Kala Fortress).

Ministry of Tourism, Resorts, and Youth Policy of the Karachaevo-Cherkess Republic.



Site on the map

Website: www.museum-kchr.ru
Address: The Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Karachaevsk region, Kosta Khetagurova village


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