Towns and Monasteries
Bulgarian monasteries

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Christianity in Bulgaria and its Cultural Heritage


Bulgaria accepts Christianity as its official religion in the 9th century during the first Bulgarian Empire. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the oldest among the Slavic Orthodox churches and has considerably influenced the rest of the Slavic Orthodox world by means of its rich literary and cultural activity in the Middle Ages, as well as by the invention of the Cyrillic script in Bulgaria in the 9th century. The country has more than 5000 churches and 160 monasteries and some of them are listed in UNESCO book.


The great number of Bulgarian monasteries are situated over the unapproachable peaks or enclosed by mountains and surrounded by incredible nature. The Bulgarian monasteries are unique, because of their rich architecture, invaluable icons and wall paintings - they are authentic masterpieces of the medieval Bulgarian art.


Bulgarian monasteries have gained great importance as centers where Bulgarian literature, culture and national values were preserved during centuries of turbulent history. Some of them played a key role in keeping alive the Bulgarian spirit and national identity during five centuries of Ottoman yoke.

Rila Monastey St. Ivan of Rila

Rila Monastery (National museum, UNESCO) is one of the most famous Bulgarian symbols, the most influential spiritual centre in the country. It is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria and second biggest on the Balkan Peninsula. It was founded in the 10th century by the monk hermit John, who was later named Bulgarias patron saint and his disciples. It is situated in northwestern part of Rila Mountain, at an altitude of 1150 m above the sea level. Easy accessible by car and only 111km away from Sofia capital city.

Bachkovo Monastey Virgin Mary


Bachkovo Monastery is situated in the village Bachkovo, about 25 km south of Plovdiv in the foothills of the majestic Rhodope Mountain. Bachkovski Monastery is the second largest Bulgarian monastery.

Rozhen Monastey St. Nativity of Mother of God

Rozhen Monastery is the biggest sanctuary in the Pirin Mountain region. It lies only 6 km north-east of Bulgarias smallest town, Melnik, and 16 km away from the town of Sandanski. The exact date of the establishment of Rozhen Monastery is not known, but according to annals, the name of the monastery was mentioned for the first time in a Greek manuscript which dated back to the 13th century. At present, Rozhen Monastery is functional, well-maintained and opened for visitors all-year round.

Aladzha  Monastey

Aladzha Rock  Monastery is situated a  only 2 km of Golden Sands seaside resort and 16 km of Varna town. Aladzha Monastery was established 11-12th century when the hermits first inhabited it. However, its caves were inhabited early in the Byzantine period. Nowadays Aladzha Monastery does not function, no monks live there and it is turned into a monument of culture and a museum.

Sokolski  Monastey Holy Mothers Assmption

      Sokolski Monastery is situated 10km southeast of the town of Gabrovo, near the popular ethnographic complex Etura. It was founded in 1833 by archimandrite Yossif Sokolski. The monastery took part actively in the struggle for national liberation of Bulgarian nation. During the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation the monastery was turned into a military hospital. Two of the most important are icons are Jesus Christ and Holy Mother with the Son since they were created by the prominent icon-painter Zahari Zograf. Sokolski Monastery, including its frescoes, has been recently restored with EU funds.


The Transfiguration Monastey


The Transfiguration Monastery lies in a picturesque place on the banks of the Yantra river and 6km north of Veliko Turnovo. It is a precious architectural and artistic monument in Bulgaria. It was established during the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 13-14th century. The unique frescoes in the church were created by the renowned icon-painter, Zahari Zograf. The stunning big scene Day of Judgement on the east wall in the narthex is of great interest for visitors. The remarkable scene The cycle of Life, painted on the outer altar wall is also noteworthy.
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