About Bulgaria - Monasteries
Stronghold of the Bulgarian Spirit
"Worth are for us the Bulgarian monasteries, reputable relics of the strongholds in which the Bulgarian spirit was kept living, for a long time being the bequest of the fathers' testament and aeries from which the eaglets flew away to proclaim the dawn of the Bulgarian Revival. They are the lively and moving history of an epoch, so glorious and so dismal."

- Ivan Vasov, Bulgarian poet, 1850-1921

Monasteries
Monasteries are unique monuments of Bulgarian spirituality that have undergone a number of metamorphoses throughout their centuries-old history.
Built for the first time back in the 4th – 5th c., at the time when the first Christians adopted seclusion as their destiny. In the 9th century the Bulgarian Knyaz Boris I acknowledged them as centres of the Christian faith and wisdom. The monasteries marked their blossoming in the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th – 14th c.) when they became the cradle of knowledge and education, of the Bulgarian language and culture. During the years of the Bulgarian National Revival they became a depository for the Bulgarian enlighteners and leaders, masters – wood carvers and icon painters. And into sacred places that have preserved the Bulgarian national traditions.
Today, the monasteries of Bulgaria are a part of the rich historical and cultural heritage of Europe and the entire Christian world.


Rila Monastery
 
A Christian, cultural and educational centre in Europe and a impressive monument of the Bulgarian Medieval and the Bulgarian national revival architecture and painting
This monastery complex is in the region of Blagoevgrad and it is the largest in the Balkan peninsula. It is situated in the north-west part of Rila Mountain at a height of 1100 m. It has been existing in its current appearance from the beginning of 19th century. Rila Monastery was established in 10th century by the Christian Saint Ivan Rilski – the first Bulgarian hermit respected by the Christian people also as a healer. The monastery complex is quadrangular-shaped. Its total area is 8800 square meters. Hrelyova Tower (built in 1335) and the head monastery church of “Virgin Mary`s Birth” (built in 1834 – 1837) are situated in the spacious church yard. There are over 300 monastic cells and 4 chapels in the four-storey housing wings. The walls and the monastery ceilings are richly painted. Many talented builders, icon-painters and wood-cutter of the Bulgarian national revival took part in forming the decoration of the monastery. The monumental decoration of the head church was made by famous Bulgarian artists of the Bulgarian national revival, namely: Zahariy Zograf, Stanislav Dospevski, Hristo Dimitrov, etc. In the 15th century Rila Monastery was one of the most important Bulgarian educatuional centres. Some of the most valuable Bulgarian educational monuments were kept in it.
In 1961 the monastery was proclaimed a national museum, and later in 1983 - a monument of UNESCO.
Bachkovo Monastery Virgin Mary
The second biggest Bulgarian monastery – Bachkovo Monastery, is situated in the Chepelarska River valley (also known as Chaya River), at a distance of approximately 10 kilometers to the south of Asenovgrad.
The monastery was built in 1083 by the Byzantine general of Georgian origin Grigoriy Bakuriani and his brother, Abaziy. It was protected by Tsar Ivan Alexander during the Second Bulgarian Empire, depicted in the archеs of the ossuary’s narthex as a sign of acknowledgement.
After Bulgaria fell under the Turkish rule in the end of the 14thcentury, Patriarch Evtimiy was sent into exile here. But instead of being desperate and hopeless, the Holy Father and his students developed an active religious and literary activity.
During the slavery, the monastery was plundered and destroyed. At the end of the15th century it revived once again and became one of the most important centers of the Bulgarian culture and spirituality.
Today, the monastery impresses with its incredible nature and imposing appearance. The mural paintings of the dining room painted in 1605 by an unknown hand are spectacular with their artistic value. The church is a true example of the Bulgarian artistic and architectural tradition of the Bulgarian National Revival time. Especial attention should be paid to the ossuary and its ancient wall paintings, which are some of the most valuable works of the Orthodox art from the 11th -12th c., and two smaller churches, namely St. Archangels Church dating back from the13th c., and St. Nikola Church built in the period 1834-1837, which keep the icons of the Bulgarian icon-painters and the image of Zahari Zograf himself painted on one of these icons.


Rozhen Monastery St Nativity of Mother of God

Rozhen Monastery is situated at a distance of approximately 5 km from the town of Melnik, in the lower parts of Pirin Mountain. This is the biggest cloister in the region of Pirin, and one of the few Medieval Bulgarian churches preserved almost unviolated. It affords an exclusive view to the peaks of Pirin Mountain and Belasitsa Mountain, to the unique Melnik sand pyramids (so called mels - Slavonic word "mel" means "white clay, chalk") that are part of the unusual colour of the town of Melnik.
According to chronicles kept in Mount Athos, Greece, the monastery was established in the remote 890 year. During the rule of despot Alexi Slav, a governor of the region under the rule of Tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207) and his nephew, the monastery was developed. In the 17th century it was burnt down, and at the beginning of the 18th century it was once again renovated. The monastery reached its apogee in the 19th century when it functioned as a religious spiritual centre.
Today, Rozhen Monastery is well-maintained and open to visitors from all over the country. Except for the well-preserved wall paintings, the monastery is also known for its fine stained glasses and unique wood carvings. Similar to other churches, Rozhen Monastery has its own miraculous icon-protector (of Virgin Mary) that is preserved in an ark in St. St. Kozma and Damyan Church. It also has its own holiday, namely 8th September.


Troyan Monastery of the Assumption (Uspenie Bogorodichno)

Assumption Troyan stauropegial monastery is situated at a distance of 10 km to the south-east of the Balkan town of Troyan, at the foot of the Balkan Mountain Range.
According to the monastery chronicles preserved by an unknown monk, the Troyan Monastery was established by a monk who built here a small chalet a few years after the falling of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Between the period of its establishment and the year of 1830 the monastery was repeatedly attacked and destroyed, and its monks – killed. For a long period of time it was dependent on the Greek bishops from the Lovech diocese. This status quo was changed in 1830, when via a diploma issued on 4th December 1830 and signed by the ecumenical Patriarch Constantius, Troyan Monastery achieved the desired independence and was proclaimed stauropegial. Since that moment forward the monastery became a spiritual and cultural centre.
The church was built in the spirit of the Bulgarian National Revival. Despite the fact that the separate complex parts have been built by different masters in different period of time, it impresses with its harmony. The wall paintings are work of the famous master Zahari Zograf from the Samokov School of Art and Iconography. There are also icons of Dimitar Zograf preserved in the monastery. This monastery, like other Bulgarian monasteries, has its own miraculous icon, which came to the monastery at the time of its establishment, and was called Bogoroditsa Troeruchitsa /Three-handed Mother of God/. Together with its spiritual role, the monastery is a cradle of great Bulgarian writers, teachers and translators, and was a shelter of the Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levski.
There are many things in Bulgaria that may surprise You. Certainly one of them is the traditional Bulgarian cuisine.
Collected the culinary of old cook masters and part of the culinary traditions of the Balkan nations, today it impresses with its great variety and its unusual exotic character. You can try the tasty yoghurt and the unusual milk products – white brined cheese, Balkan kashkaval and cottage cheese only in Bulgaria. The popular mixed vegetable salad, tsar`s pickles, sauerkraut and Bulgarian lyutenitsa are offered only here. Nowhere else you can have a bite a salad of Smilyan beans with herbs, cold yoghurt and chopped cucumber soup, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed peppers with beans, kavarma, kapama, patatnik, hominy, marudnitsi (kind of blintz), banitsas filled with rice, leek, spinach, beetroot, pumpkin, Easter cakes. The traditional local delicacies, such as lukanka, sudzhuk, babek (flat sausages), dried meat, etc., are also among the great culinary surprises. All these and our sparkling red wine that has kept the breath of our virgin nature and the spirit of our forefathers are a nice appetizer for the aromatic rakia (Bulgarian brandy). Adding the ecologically clean vegetables and fruit, which cannot be compared by their taste and fragrance, the delicious and healing natural mineral waters, it then would be a great temptation to be a tourist in Bulgaria.
 
Discover Bulgaria
This tour presents the highlights of the Bulgarian culture and historical heritage: the famous golden treasures of the Thracians, the unique frescos and icons of Bulgarian monasteries, picturesque Rivaval towns and wonderful landscapes.
Monastery Tour
Seculed ath the foot of the mountain or perched on the hills, but always amidst vivid scenery have been a genuine treasury of Bulgarian spirit.Fantastic mural paintings and frescoes made by the hand of familiar or unknown icon painters cover the interior of the churches.
Three Mountains
Bulgarian landscape is fascinatingly diverse-low and high mountains,valleys and meadows, beaches and bays.Enjoy the the charming of the Bulgarian towns, still preserving the atmosphere of National Revival period –a unique combination of a legendary history and and fascinating present
Daily tour Koprivshtitsa
One of the most charming small Bulgarian towns-a museum of Bulgarian Renaissance architecture.Every street and house tells about the heroic past of this ancient town.A unique collection of ethnographic treasures,Revival works of art and embroidery has also been preserved.
Daily tour Rila Monastery
The holy ground for all Bulgarians.It is a symbol of their national identity and dignity.Visitors are impressed by the the pure harmonious line of the buildings, the exquisite colonnades and arches.
Daily tour Sofia
Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe, with thousand of years of history and monuments from different civilizations.Sofia celebrates on September 17 , as this is the day of its patron-saints Viara(Faith), Nadezhda(Hope), Lyubov(Love) and their mother Sofia which in Greek means “wisdom”
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