Best Bulgarian Monastery
Bulgaria is rich in historical sites and cultural treasures. So while you are on your holiday in Bulgaria, do not limit yourself to just relaxing on the beach or visiting the famous Bulgarian holiday destinations. Take your time to explore some of Bulgaria’s most famous monasteries and experience some of the exquisite and rich in history atmosphere.
The Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
The Rila Monastery is one of the symbols of Bulgaria and a preferred tourist destination. The monastery is located in the depths of the Rila Mountains, about 120 km away from Sofia and 450 km away from the Bulgarian Black sea coast. The Rila Monastery was founded in the first half of the 10th century. Its story is directly related to the first Bulgarian hermit St. John of the Rila Mountain, who settled in the area and devoted himself to fasting and prayer. For centuries the Rila Monastery was the spiritual, enlightenment and cultural center of Bulgaria. In 1983, UNESCO included the monastery in its World Heritage List.
The oldest building in the monastery is a fortress tower (Hrelyova tower), built in the XIV century (1335).
The church has a cornucopia of precious relics, including the remains of the founder of the monastery St. John of Rila and the miraculous icon “St. The Virgin Mary of Osenovitsa “from the 12th century. The museum exhibit includes valuable examples of Bulgarian and foreign art that dates back to the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. The most valuable exhibit is the wooden cross with an exquisite miniature carving made by Father Raphael. About 4 km away from the monastery, a designated trail leads tourists to the cave where St. John of Rila decided to spend his entire life. Tourists can follow the trail and visit the cave. No special equipment is required. The trail is not too difficult so anyone could take it and explore not only the religious sites but the beauty of the Bulgarian Rila Mountain as well.
Photos of Rila Monastery
In front of the two monastery gates, there are separate parking lots for cars and buses. The monastery offers overnight accommodation. Postcard and souvenirs can be bought in the monastery bookstore and in the shops of the Hrelyova tower.
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Bachkovo Monastery , Bulgaria
Bachkovo Monastery has located 20 km in the south of Plovdiv and 252 km from the Black sea coast. The monastery was founded in 1083 by the Georgian Gregory Bakuriani. The original building has been preserved only a two-story ossuary, which is located about 400 meters away from the present monastery. It is believed that, after Bulgaria fell under Ottoman slavery the last Patriarch has been banished in that same monastery.
The construction of the new monastery building began at the end of XVI c., Probably it was then when the east wing of the fortified main gate was built and in 1604 the main church was finished
This monastery, just as the Rila one is also famous for being home to one of the several miraculous icons that are part of the Bulgarian heritage. The Virgin Mary with silver plating from 1311 is one of the most treasured icons in Bulgarian history. Thousands believe that it grants the prayer their sincerest wishes. A favorite place for pilgrims and visitors is the yard of the Bachkovo monastery, there you can find the different interesting representatives of the Bulgarian flora. The monastery is strictly run by monks. But it offers accommodation to anyone, willing to stay for the night.
Photos of Bachkovo Monastery
In the monastery, visitors can not buy informational materials, books, souvenirs, icons. The path from the parking lot to the monastery, however, is packed with small shops and stalls where tourists can buy souvenirs, postcards, pottery, etc.
The Troyan Monastery , Bulgaria
The Troyan Monastery is the third largest one in Bulgaria, a remarkable cultural monument of national importance. It is located in the beautiful valley of the Cherni Osum River, 10 km in the south of the town of Troyan. According to historical documents, the monastery was founded in 1600 hours and rebuilt in the period from 1830 to 1865 in its present form. The most remarkable architectural and cultural monument is the main Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. The murals in it are a rich gallery of art pieces created by Zahari Zograf (one of the most famous Bulgarian artists of the Renascence period) and are considered a pinnacle in his work. Along with the biblical scenes depicted, he left behind a magnificent self-portrait, portraits of donors, images of St. Cyril and Methodius, images of Bulgarian patriarchs and kings, saints and for the first time depicted some of the recent Bulgarian saints. Bulgarian fine arts do not know such richness and variety of themes and subjects from the Renaissance era. The most famous object is yet another miraculous icon – called the “St. Lady of the Three Hands “.
Another interesting fact is that the Trojan Monastery was a preferred hiding spot of the Apostle of Liberty Vasil Levski, who formed revolutionary committees not only in Troyan but also in the monastery itself. Tourists can visit the room where he used to hide from the Ottomans and also can see the entrance of his secret passage that granted him the easy way in and out of the monastery into the woods that surround it.
Photos of Troyan Monastery
The Trojan Monastery offers tourists accommodation, as the complex has its hotel part. It is recommended that all who wish to spend the night in the monastery check if this is possible at least one day in advance since the interest is great and there may be no vacancies. There are dining establishments where traditional Bulgarian foods and drinks can be tasted. There are several shops in the complex where information materials and souvenirs are sold.
Shipka Monastery is located on the outskirts of the city Shipka, right in the center of Bulgaria and the Valley of Roses. The funds for the construction were donated by Russia and the residents of Shipka donated the land, on which the monastery is built. Its construction began in 1885 and ended in 1902. Remarkable for its typical Russian-style architecture and gilded cubes is the main temple of the monastery, which is a cultural monument. The monastery was Russian until 1934 when the Soviet government granted it to Bulgaria. In the temple and galleries are placed 34 marble plaques with the names of the killed officers and militias during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. There is a 53-meter-tall bell tower in the western part of the church. The total number of bells in it is 17, with the largest bell weighing 1643 kg. Shipka Monastery is a functioning monastery. The monastery does not offer accommodation. Information brochures and souvenirs can be purchased at the church.
Photos of Shipka Monastery
The Aladzha Monastery, on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, is the most prominent medieval cave monastery. During the XIII-XIV centuries, it was inhabited by hermitage monks. It was at the end of the 19th century that the founders of the Bulgarian archaeology- brothers Shkorpil, Karel and Hermin, began systematically studying this Christian monument.
Caves of the Aladzha monastery are hewn into a nearly 40 m high calcareous rock on two floors. The first floor contains a monastery chapel, monastic cells, a dining room and a kitchen, a small cemetery church, a crypt (bone-vault) and farm premises. The second level is a natural recess of the cave at the eastern end of which is the chapel of a monastery.
There is a group of caves 600-700 m west of the Monastery sometimes known as the “Catacombs”. After the fall of Bulgaria at the end of the 14th century under the Ottoman yoke, Aladzha Monastery gradually declined and it was probably around the 15th-16th century when it was finally abandoned.
The monastery Christian name is unknown. The word “aladzha” (alaca) means “motley, light” in Persian – Arabic language. Late in the last century, K. Shkorpil had written a legend that the monastery’s patron was St Spas
Aladzha Monastery has been regarded as one of the most popular destinations on the Black Sea Coast for a century now and is included in most travel guides around the world.
Photos of Aladzha Monastery
No matter what’s the reasons behind your holiday trip to Bulgaria. One thing you really should not miss is the opportunity to visit these exceptional places and submerge yourself in their unique atmosphere. After all, there are not many places in the world that take pride in having holy items that make miracles happen, aren’t there?
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