Monasteries in Bulgaria

One of the biggest wealth in Bulgaria is the great number of monasteries situated over the unapproachable peaks or enclosed by mountains and surrounded by incredible nature. The Bulgarian monasteries are unique, because of their rich architecture, icons and wall paintings, as well as with the legends and sagas, bringing a mythical outlook to some of them.
Intensive monastery construction in Bulgaria started right after Christianity was officially adopted in the country in 865 AC. They became a Slavic writing, culture and orthodox religion centres. The monasteries preserved the national spiritual values during the hard times for the Bulgarian state. Most of the Bulgarian literature and painting was created in these holly cloisters. During the time of Ottoman rule the monasteries preserved not only the religion, customs and culture but they were also the heart of the revolutionary movement. Because of the Turkish attacks or as a result of the time small part of the today’s operating monasteries have kept their original look. However visiting them is a great experience that gives the feeling of spiritual calmness and leaves long lasting memories. Nowadays there are about 160 operating monasteries in Bulgaria and some of them are listed in UNESCO book including the exceptionally interesting rocky monasteries. Cutted in a cliff rocks, they are symbol of the strong will of the Bulgarians and their ability to survive during the hard times.

Rila Monastery:
The “St. Ivan Rilski” monastery is the biggest monastery complex in Bulgaria. It is situated at 117 km away from Sofia at 1147 m above the sea level in Rila Mountain. Rila Monastery was declared as national historical monument and was listed in UNESCO book.
The monastery was founded by the hermit St. Ivan Rilski in the 10th century. Ivan Rilski is one the greatest Bulgarian saints. He was born about 867 in village of Skrino near Dupnitsa town. He was a shepherd and at the age of 25 he went in “St. Dimitar” monastery in Osogovo Mountain... more!

Bachkovo monastery:
The “Assumption” monastery is the second large monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the western part of Rodope Mountain 10 km away from Asenovgrad. It was founded by Grigoriy Bukuriani – Georgian military commander who was at the service of the Byzantine Emperor. After the Ottomans conquered Bulgaria in the end of 14 century the heroic patriarch St. Evtimiy Tarnovski was send into exile in the monastery, were he stayed until the end of the life. He was buried here...more!

Troyan monastery:
The third largest monastery in Bulgaria is the “Assumption”. It is situated in Stara Planina Mountain 10 km away from town of Troyan on the bank of Cherni Osum river. The legend says that the monastery was found by a hermit monk in the beginning of the Ottoman slavery... more!

Dryanovo monastery:
“St Archangel Michail” monastery is situated in the picturesque gorge of Dryanovo River in the Balkan Mountain range. It is near Dryanovo and about 220 km away from Sofia. The monastery was founded in the 12th century and lately became centre of the Hesychasm. During the Ottoman slavery the monastery was burned down twice and in 17 century it was built on its present place...more!

Cherepish monastery:
The “Assumption” monastery is situated at the foot of the amazing rocks in Stara Planina Mountain along the valley of the Iskar River. It is 29 km south of Vratsa. During the time of Ottoman rule the monastery was one of the fortresses that kept the Bulgarian culture and spirit and it was being destroyed many times... more!

Preobrazhenski monastery:
The “Lord’s Holly Transfiguration monastery” is situated among the beautiful countryside, about 7 km away from the middle aged capital Veliko Tarnovo. It is one of the biggest monasteries in Bulgaria and one the most interesting because it was built and decorated by two of the greatest creators and masters in Bulgaria – Zahari Zograf and Kolio Ficheto...more!

Gabrovo – Sokolski monastery:
In 1833 the famous fighter for church independence Joseph Sokolski came back in his home town Gabrovo and together with Agapius priest built a small chapel in front of the nearby cave. One year later the people from the local villages made donations and helped for the construction of the big temple, which we can see today...more!

Rozhen monastery:
The “Virgin Mary’s Nativity” monastery is one of the few monasteries that have left preserved since it was built in the middle ages. It is situated in the lower south western part of Pirin 6 km away from Melnik. A marvelous view to the magnificent peaks of Pirin and Belasitsa mountains and the unique Melnik pyramids is revealed from the monastery...more!

Arbanasi Monastery:
The “Assumption” monastery is located several kilometres away from the middle aged capital Veliko Tarnovo in the museum village Arbanasi. It was built during the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The monastery survived after the Ottoman invasion but later it was abandoned because of the unceasing robber bands attacks...more!

Dragalevtsi monastery:
The “Virgin Mary Vitoshka” monastery is situated at the foot of the beautiful Vitosha Mountain about 3 km away from Sofia. During the middle ages there was whole monastery complex known as “Sofia Sveta Gora”...more!

Glozhene monastery:
In the marvelous Teteven Balkan in Stara Planina Mountain on the top of the unapproachable rock one of the most interesting monasteries in Bulgaria rising – “St. Georgi the Victorious”.
It is known as Glozhene monastery and looks more like medieval temple. It is situated 100 km away from Sofia...more!

Shipka monastery:
The large beautiful monastery “Nativity” was built at the food of Stara Planina above the town of Shipka in honor of the perished Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers in the Russian – Turkish war of liberation...more!

Aladzha monastery:
The “Holy Trinity” monastery is of the many rocky monasteries which are still in process of research. It is situated 14 km away from Varna and 2 km away from the sea coast and “Golden Sands” resort. It is known as Aladzha (party-coloured) monastery because of the lurid wall paintings dating back from the middle ages... more

Ivanovo (Cut – in – the – Rock) Monastery:
The unique Rocky monastery complex “St. Archangel Michail” is situated in the picturesque canyon of Russenski Lom river 12 km away from Rousse. It is listed in the UNESCO book.
The monastery was dwelled by monks during the period 13 -17th century. It differs from other rocky monasteries by its structure. There were more than 40 rocky churches and about 300 sells. Many of the monks were bookmen and men of letters and many Christians made a pilgrimage there...more!

Basarbovo (Cut - in – the – rock) monastery:
This monastery is situated in the river valley of Russenski Lom. It is the only rocky monastery operating nowadays. The first intelligences about the monastery date back from 15 century. Its patron is St. Dimitriy Basarbovski. The monastery is very well preserved and it is very attractive...more!

Kilifarevo Monastery:
Kilifarevo Monastery is situated on the right bank of Belitsa River, 12 km south of Veliko Tarnovo and 2 km of Kilifarevo. The monastery is surrounded by magnificent nature...more!



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