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Pleven, Lukovit
Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanasi, Gorna Oryahovitsa
Vidin, Kozloduj, Kula
Shumen, Pliska, Veliki Preslav, Madara
Svishtov, Nature Park Persina
The Monastery's around the Veliko Tarnovo
Silistra, Tutrakan, Sreburna
The Nature Park "Rusenski Lom", The Rock Monastery's

The Kapinovo monastery “St Nikola” is built near the Veselina river in the skirts of the beautiful Elena ridge of the Balkan Mountain. The monastery lies 18km to the south of the town of Veliko Tarnovo, it resembles strikingly a medieval fortress. A notice found on the monastery church’s apse, a church, named “Holy Trinity”, was built in this place as early as in the year 1272. According to legends, the monastery was established by Tsar Ivan Assen II. “St Nikola” became an important religious centre. With the fall of Turnovo under Turkish rule, the monastery was set on fire and destroyed.

The most recent renewal of the monastery dates to the early 19th century. The present-day church was built in 1835, in 1864 - new residential buildings for the monks. In 1830 it started to host a literary school. The church hosts a rich collection of icons. while in 1860 the monks helped in the organisation of the Hadzhi Stavri rebellion. The monastery also took part in the preparations for the April Uprising 1876.

Monastery of Kilifarevo "St Birth of Virgin Mary" lies in the valley of the Belitsa river, about 4 km to the southeast of the town of Kilifarevo (close to Veliko Tarnovo). At the very beginning of its existence, the cloister was situated on the near-by hill, was built between 1348 and 1350. Its founder is the renowned Bulgarian clergyman, Teodosii of Turnovo, who with the help of the then-ruler, Tsar Ivan Alexander, transformed the cloister into one of the most important centres of the Bulgarian education and literature of the Middle Ages.

A Kilifarevo school of literature was established for a short period of time and in 1360, this was already teaching 460 students, the most famous of which was the future Bulgarian Patriarch, Evtimii of Tarnovo. After the invasion of the Turkish troops in Bulgaria, the monastery was destroyed. In 1718 the monastery was restored in its present-day place. In the end of the 18th century the cloister was raided and destroyed, but only to be rebuilt again and again.

The famous Bulgarian Renaissance master, Kolyo Fitcheto, started the construction of the present-day one-dome basilica "St Dimitar" in 1840. The master decided to preserve the old altar wall and the two chapels, dedicated to St Teodosii and St Ivan of Rila. The church was finished in 1842. The iconostasis represents a golden masterpiece, done by two woodcarvers, Tsonyo and Simeon Vassilevi from town of Tryavna. The visitor is also impressed by the icons of the Tryavna iconpainters. The complex also includes two beautiful residential buildings in authentic Renaissance style, the older of which dates back to 1849.

The Merdanya monastery “St Forty Martyrs" is situated in the eastern end of the village of Merdanya on the road of Veliko Turnovo with the town of Elena. Remains of a medieval monastery, believed to date back to the rule of Tsar Ivan Assen II, have been found about 1.5 km away from the present-day monastery in an area called Ushite (the Ears). In the middle of the 19th c. a rich citizen of Elena, Hadzhi Kesarii Horozov, bought out the former estates of the monastery. In 1853, he built a church and residential buildings with his own funds and became father superior of the newly opened monastery. The father superior, Kesarii Horozov, took part in the Velcho’s Plot, as well as became a close collaborator of Vassil Levski.

The church is a one-nave building with a spacious entrance and high dome. At first it was not painted. Later, after its restoration in 1982-1984 it was painted with frescoes. It still preserves some icons of the 19th century, too, most of which were painted by representatives of the Tryavna school of arts. The fountain in the yard as well as the high walls surrounding the monastery, are still used. The father superior also opened a religious evening school at the monastery that was visited by residents of Merdanya and neighbouring villages. Following the death of Hadzhi Kesarii in 1893, most of the monks left the monastery and the latter gradually decayed. Later it was repaired and was transformed into a female one – which it still is.

Patriarch Monastery "Holy Trinity" lies about 10 km away from the ancient town and ex-Bulgarian capital, Veliko Tarnovo. The monastery has been built high above the town in an extraordinarily beautiful area, huddling at the foot of a vertical rocky massif. The first sanctuary in the vicinity dates back to 1070. Later on, in 1368 a hermit, Teodosii of Turnovo, moved to a small cave formed in the rocky massif. As other monks started arriving here, the place was gradually transformed into a true community of monks. The future Patriarch Evtimii also joined the cloister. Thus, after the sudden death of Teodossi in Tsarigrad (present-day Istanbul) during an oecumenical council, Evtimii became naturally father superior of the monastery. The monastery was supported by the authorities in the face of Ivan Alexander and Ivan Shishman, who used to come to the cloister and often provided support for the monks.

In 1393 Tarnovo was conquered by the Turkish empire. While the 300 monks of the monastery were slaughtered by the Ottomans, Patriarch Evtimii together with other high-ranked officials of Turnovo were lined up and forced to either convert to Islam or die. When the turn of Evtimii to make his choice came, the Patriarch declined to convert and was sentenced to death. The verdict was not executed though as the hand of the executioner froze in the air and could not move. This was taken by the Turks as a holy sign and the Patriarch was sent in exile instead.

Shortly before the Liberation the monastery was restored with the famous master, Kolyo Fitcheto, having his contribution. The master rebuilt the church in 1848 while another famous artist of that time, Zahari Zograf, painted its frescoes. An earthquake ruined the church and other buildings of the monastery in 1913. The design of the reconstructed church, kept till present days, is different from Kolyo Fitcheto’s one as it has domes, banned for Orthodox churches during Ottoman times. The monastery was a male one until 1946, the monastery has grown in the past few decades. The oldest buildings that are still functioning date back to 1948, while the church in its present-day design is about 10 years old and is still being painted inside.

Petropavlovski Monastery ("St Apostles Peter and Paul"), known also as Lyaskovets monastery, is one of the 14 monasteries built in the neighbourhood of the old capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, during the Second Bulgarian State (12-14th century). The monastery is one of the best preserved monasteries from that time, not least because of its hard-to-reach location. It perches over the high and inaccessible rocks of the Arbanasi plateau, 6 km to the northeast of Veliko Tarnovo. The monastery and particularly its 31-high belltower are well seen from the lows and according to many, it resembles a mysterious medieval castle. Once one climbs to it, its terrace reveals a glorious view over the Danube plain and the Balkan mountains.

After Bulgaria was included within the boundaries of the Turkish Empire, it was several times set on fire and then rebuilt. In 1662, it became famous even outside the Empire and Russia’s Peter the Great gifted it with a gold-plated Gospel. The monastery was among the most active participants in the struggle of the Bulgarian people against the Ottoman rule. The uprising inspired and instigated by Turnovo’s widow Mara, and led by her son Stoyan was arranged in 1700 at the monastery and started from there, with the monastery’s father Sofronnii also being one of the plotters. Similarly to other monasteries, The Petropavlovski one gave a shelter to prosecuted rebels.

In 1874 metropolitan Ilarion Makariopolski opened the first theological school in Bulgaria within the monastery, which continued functioning until 1885. The earthquake in 1913 destroyed the monastery’s church, the east residential part and some other buildings. Nowadays, following a lengthy reconstruction, the monastery welcome visitors from all parts of the world.

The Plakovo monastery "St Prophet Iliya" to be found close to the village of Plakovo, about 18 km to the south of Veliko Tarnovo. Because of the proximity between the Plakovo and the Kapinovo cloisters (the distance between being just 2 km), the two are often nicknamed as twin-monasteries. The monastery was founded during the times of the Second Bulgarian State, and similarly to most other monasteries dating back to this period, it was destroyed with the subjection of Bulgaria under Turkish rule. It was not reconstructed before 1450, but only to be repeatedly set on fire and raided afterwards. In 1835, the monastery hosted the famous Velcho’s Plot, with one of the leaders being the ex-abbot of the monastery, Father Sergey. Following the Turks’ suppression of the plot, the monastery was again ruined.

The present-day monastery complex was rebuilt in 1845. The church is a rare representative of the Bulgarian orthodox architecture of the so-called Athos type, typical of the Second Bulgarian State. The oblong church has a single nave, three high apses and six massive cylindrical columns with capitals. The western part is an open narthex. Above the entrance and below the open narthex one can see the only fresco with scripts from the church-donors. The church keeps a valuable icon of Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles, painted by Zahari Zograf (1845). In addition, it also preserves old manuscripts and religious books. The residential buildings as well as the majestic 26-meter belltower, rising above the western residential building of the monastery, represent other sights of visitors’ interest. Both were built by a famous Master Kolyo Ficheto (1856).

Preobrajenski (The Transfiguration) monastery is built in an extremely picturesque place, about 10 km away from the ancient fortress of veliko Tarnovo. It lies at the foot of vertical rocks on the left bank of the Yantra river. The yard of the monastery offers a marvellous view to the defile of the river and the opposite rocky hill, the foot of which shelters another monastery, the Patriarch’s “Holy Trinity”.

The monastery was established in the 14th century. The entire present-day complex was built in the 19th century. Its construction in the church was started by the Master Dimitar of Sofia (later captured and hanged by the taking part in the famous Velcho’s plot against the Turkish Empire) and finished by a famous architect of that time, Kolcho Fitcheto. The church has a unique design, which is hardly comparable to any other shrine in a Bulgarian monastery.

The picturesque wall paintings, created by another renowned artist, Zahari Zograf, is also imposing on visitors. Over a period of three years, from 1849 to 1851, Zahari works over some of the masterpieces of the Bulgarian Renaissance art. His work on the altar, as well as the beautiful fresco on the outer wall, named “The Cycle of Life”, deserve the biggest attention. The masterly woodcarving, called The King’s Gates, made in the 19th century is also of interest.

Some time ago, there used to be two smaller churches in the neighbourhood. Regretfully, these were destroyed by the slide of rocks 25 years ago. The monks’ dwellings with their spacious verandas, again designed by Kolyo Fitcheto, remind of the classical style of the Bulgarian Renaissance. At present, 13 monks live there.

Kapinovo monastery
Kapinovo monastery
Kilifarevo monastery
Kilifarevo monastery
Merdanya monastery
Merdanya monastery
Patriarch Monastery
Patriarch Monastery
Patriarch Monastery
Petropavlovski Monastery
Petropavlovski Monastery
Plakovo Monastery
Plakovo Monastery
Plakovo Monastery
Preobrajenski Monastery
Preobrajenski Monastery
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