Shoana Church

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Shoan church
Russian: Шоанинский храм
Karachay-Balkar: Чууана клиса
Ossetian: Суаны Уастырджы
Шоанинский древнехристианский храм 02.jpg
Coordinates43°48′16″N 41°53′22″E / 43.80444°N 41.88944°E / 43.80444; 41.88944Coordinates: 43°48′16″N 41°53′22″E / 43.80444°N 41.88944°E / 43.80444; 41.88944
LocationKarachay-Cherkessia Republic, Russia
TypeOrthodox church
Length12.9 m
Width8.9 m
Height12.9 m
Completion dateend of the X century

The Shoana church (Russian: Шоанинский храм, Karachay-Balkar: Чууана клиса, Ossetian: Суаны Уастырджы[1]) is a Christian church that belongs to the historical Alanian Diocese. The church was built at the end of the tenth century, and is located on the territory of modern Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, Russia. The building has a crossed-dome plan, with an inscribed cross, which is a variation of the North Zelenchuk Church.


The church is located on the southeastern spur of Mount Shoan (Karachay-Balkar: Чуўана), on the left bank of the Kuban river, in a strategically important place not far from confluence of the two rivers: Kuban and Teberda (Russian: Теберда). The church is located 7 km to the north from the city of Karachayevsk (Russian: Карачаевск), above the Ossetian village named after Kosta Khetagurov.


The church is constructed according to the Byzantine architectural tradition. It has three apses, which are a little bit narrower than naves (of which there are also three). It is a cross-domed building with four square pillars bearing three-stage arches and a cupola. The length of the building from west to east is 12.9 m., The height is equal to the length, the width along the western facade is 8.9 m. The church has two closed vaulted narthexes at the northern and southern end. It is not clear what was the original form of the roof. At the moment, there is a restored gable roof, but there is a theory about the original roof tiles being rested on semi-circular zacomari-gables.[2] The tholobate is octahedral and has eight windows, each side of the tholobate is ended with the archivolt overhang on consoles rested on the corners. Modern tholobate being milti-faced does not rely on any scientific evidence.[2] The plinthite, which is traditional for Byzantine buildings, is used only in the arches. The rest of the building is composed of sandstone-with-lime blocks of rough processing, with a butoconcrete filling inside the wall. The windows are crowened not with an arch of plinthite, but with a stone with a semi-circular finish carved in it. Numerous holes for scaffolding are visible in the masonry, and in the hole in the western part of the southern wall there is even a piece of wood that the builders could not remove and just saw it off. For the construction of the church powerful substructions [1] were required. The facade decor of the church is very modest: there is a cornice made of stone tiles, plinthite stones on the drum and stone cornice above some the windows. Outside the church was covered with a thin layer of plastering (can be seen in the voids between some stone tiles), and inside it was plastered and decorated with ornaments.


The slope, on which the church is located, was previously densely populated, as evidenced by the remains of numerous ancient buildings. Although the original function of the church remains unknown,[2] a large number of burials were found in the settlement, as well as inside the church itself. The Shoan church is essentially a smaller copy of North Zelenchuk Church (besides Shoan having no narthex and western porch). Indisputable proof of copying is a characteristic combination of the eastern corner cells and the side bema into a single compartiment with one blind arch on the side wall.[2] Russian historians A.Vinogradov and D. Beletsky believe that the church was built by a local builders, who repeated a known pattern, but they were technically better trained than previous builders and could freely interpret the chosen form. It is very difficult[2] to associate the builders with a particular architectural school. There is no written evidence to accurately date the church. Only the picturesque scenery of the church sheds some light on its dating. The remains of the frescoes can be associated with the second layer of the painting in the Senty Church. Therefore, presumably the Shoan church was built in the late 10th - early 11th centuries. Thus, the Shoan church was built after the Middle Zelenchuk (950-960s), Senty (965) and North Zelenchuk (late 960s - 970s) churches; it belongs to the third stage of the temple construction in Alania after returning to Christianity around 950.[2] At the end of the XIX century, Shoan church was turned into the church of the Alexander-Athos monastery. The temple was re-plastered, the roof was replaced, and the chapels were rebuilt. In 2007 residents of the village of Kosta Khetagurov made an unauthorized repair of the church after a series of appeals to the government of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic. Late plaster in the interior of the church was roughly knocked down, under that plaster was the original plaster was found. As a result, a part of this original coating was lost, and nowadays on the newly discovered parts there are remains of ancient decorative painting. There are also Greek, Arabic, Georgian, Armenian and Russian inscriptions of various eras and numerous North Caucasian ancestral signs - tamga.[3] The eastern part of the church, closest to the village, was whitewashed. On April 30, 2011, unknown people set the temple on fire, but the it was quickly eliminated, and the interior and icons were not damaged.[4] On February 16, 2016 in Russia a silver commemorative coin dedicated to Shoan Church was released.[5]



  1. ^ Калоев Б. А. Вторая родина Коста. — Владикавказ: Ир, 1999.
  2. ^ a b c d e f А.Ю. Виноградов, Д.В. Белецкий. История и искусство христианской Алании. — in print.
  3. ^ Белецкий Д.В. Росписи и граффити Шоанинского храма // Проблемы хронологии и периодизации памятников и культур Северного Кавказа. XXVI «Крупновские чтения» по археологии Северного Кавказа. Магас, 2010..
  4. ^ В Карачаево-Черкесии неизвестные подожгли православный храм
  5. ^ Грищенко Н. Древний храм из КЧР отчеканили на трёхрублёвой монете. // Российская газета. — 11.02.2016.
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  • Виноградов А.Ю., Белецкий Д.В. История и искусство христианской Алании (в печати)
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  • Виноградов А.Ю. Очерк истории аланского христианства в X-XII вв. // ΚΑΝΙΣΚΙΟΝ. Юбилейный сборник в честь 60-летия профессора Игоря Сергеевича Чичурова. М., 2006.
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  • Виноградов А. Ю., Белецкий Д. В. Фрески Сентинского храма и проблемы истории аланского христианства в Х в. // Российская археология. М., 2005. — № 1. — С. 130—142.
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  • Перфильева Л.А. Купольные храмы Западной Алании в контексте средневизантийской архитектурной традиции // Христианское зодчество.Новые материалы и исследования. М., 2004.
  • Тихонов Н. А. Керамика Шоанинского поселения. Вопросы датировки // Проблемы хронологии и периодизации памятников и культур Северного Кавказа. XXVI «Крупновские чтения» по археологии Северного Кавказа. Магас,2010.

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