/ Monasteries

Enjoy this tour specially focused on the miraculous spiritual heritage of Bulgaria. You will have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the Rila Monastery, Rozhen Monastery, Bachkovo Monastery and many more…
Specialty category: Cultural Journey
Duration: 6 days

ITINERARY:

Day 1:
Arrival in Sofia. Transfer to a 3* hotel and accommodation. Dinner in the hotel.

Day 2:
08.00 Breakfast
08.30 Departure to Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex, which subsequently played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. The monument is a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries) and symbolizes an awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.

10.30 Visit to Rila Monastery
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Departure to Rozhen Monastery
Rozhen Monastery is the only monastery restored during the first centuries of Ottoman rule which has survived to this day. The present-day appearance of this old monastery dates back to the 16th century. According to one inscription, the image of Christ Pantocrator together with the twelve apostles above the entrance gate of the Holy Virgin main church, was painted in 1597. Valuable monuments of 17th century painting included the external southern wall (Doomsday, Jacob's Ladder), dated with an inscription from 1611, as well as scenes from the life of John the Baptist painted in 1622 in the ossuary. The inside walls in the naos, the narthex and chapel of the main church were painted in 1732, with a strong inclination for narration, as a result of which more than 150 subject-matters were illustrated. The abundance of figures of monks and hermits unknown anywhere else, many of them, probably historic personages, contemporaries of the unknown painter, are also typical.
Rozhen Monastery owes its fame above all to its carved iconostases and lecterns. Some of them are extremely complicated compositions, both in intent and in actual execution, in which Biblical themes have given full scope to boundless imagination which reached the peaks of decorativeness. Rozhen Monastery has left us with a treasure in yet another art - that of calligraphy. A unique work of the calligraphic school, which existed here as early as in the 14th century, is the manuscript "Interpretation of Jonah", taken in 1674 from the Constantinople Patriarch Dositheusm, and kept today in the Holy Grave Church in Jerusalem.

16.00 Visit to Rozhen Monastery
17.00 Departure to Sandanski. Accommodation. Dinner in the hotel.

Day 3:
08.00 Breakfast
08.30 Departure to Bachkovo Monastery
The monastery was founded in 1083 .Yet only the two-storey bone-vault, which lies about 300m to the east of the present-day complex, is still kept from that time. The bone-vault is a must-see building there, for its unique wall-paintings, which rank among the most valuable works of Orthodox art of the 11th –12th c.
Even if the Bachkovo monastery survived the first coup of the Ottoman invasion, it was not spared later one and similarly to other cloister, was raided and ruined down. It was restored towards the end of the 15th century with the dining hall having been reconstructed in 1601, and the present-day church, Virgin Mary, – in 1604. The wall-paintings of the dining hall, finished in 1603 by an unknown master, are particularly impressive for their artistic value. The church, on the other hand, also boasts with beautiful frescoes, but what draws mostly on visitors is its icon of Virgin Mary, believed to be wonder-working. A long queue of pilgrims wishing to say their prayers to the miraculous image of the God’s Mother, often starts far outside the entrance of the church. The monastery also has its own museum which holds rare religious items of different times.


12.30 Lunch
13.30 Visit to Bachkovo Monastery
15.00 Departure to Plovdiv
16.00 Walking tour of Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a tourist's treasure trove. It has more than 200 known archeological sites, 30 of which are of national importance. Some of the world-famous sites include the Ancient Theater (early 2nd century AD), the Roman Stadium (late 2nd century AD), the magnificent colored mosaics of the villas, the ones of the episcopal temple, the Nebet Tepe archaeological complex and the noted samples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, such as the Balabanov House, the Kuyumdzhiev House, the Lamartine House, and the houses of Georgiadi, Nedkovich, and Hindian.
Also of note is that there are more than 30,000 cultural artifacts, kept in the five Plovdiv museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Historical Museum, the Natural Museum and the City Art Gallery. The Panagyurishte Golden Treasure from the end of the 6th century BCE consists of six uniquely decorated golden utensils, together weighing more than 6,000 kg.The Old Town of Plovdiv is a historic preservation site known for its unique Bulgarian Renaissance architectural style. The Old Town covers the area of the three central hills (Ňđčőúëěčĺ, Trihalmie)—Nebet Tepe, Dzhambaz Tepe and Taxim Tepe. Almost every house in the Old Town is characteristically impressive in its exterior and interior decoration.

18.00 Accommodation in Plovdiv. Dinner in the hotel.


Day 4:
08.00 Breakfast
08.30 Departure to Dryanovo Monastery, visit to Shipka Memorial Church, Sokolski Monastery, Kilifarevo Monastery on the way
  • The Shipka monastery was built in living memory to the Russian soldiers and Bulgarian revolutionaries who died during the Russian-Turkish Liberation War of 1877-1878. The funds needed for the construction of the monastery were raised from donors mostly in Russia, but also in Bulgaria upon the initiative of Olga Skobeleva, mother of the Russian general Skobelev and count Ignatiev. Construction works started in 1885 and finished in 1902 under the guidance of Russian architects. Initially, the monastery was Russian property, but in 1934, it was donated by the Soviet government to the Bulgarian state.

  • The Sokolski monastery “Holy Mother’s Assumption” was established in 1833. The church was small and wooden, while a primitive wooden house was built next to it.
The present-day church was built in 1834, while its inside and outside wallpaintings were finished in 1862 by a priest, and his son. The entire monastery, including its fresco, has been recently restored with financial assistance from the EU. The iconostasis was also completed in 1862 by masters of the Tryavna school of icon-painting, while the church’s main icon was painted by the renowned Gabrovo icon-painter Hristo Tsokev. It is believed that the icon of the God’s Mother with the Son, put in a small icon-stand in the left part of the church is wonder-working. The entire monastery complex was finished during Bulgaria’s Renaissance period with the help of donations by Gabrovo citizens and residents of nearby villages. A valuable architectural monument can be seen in the middle of the monastery’s yard – a big round-shaped fountain, built by the famous master Kolyu Ficheto that still shines with its beauty.

  • It is believed that intially, the Kilifarevo monastery 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 Turnovo.
In the end of the 18th century the cloister was raided and destroyed several times, but only to be rebuilt again and again.
In addition to the church, currently the complex also includes two beautiful residential buildings in authentic Renaissance style, the older of which dates back to 1849.

Accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo/Arbanasi and dinner in the hotel.

Day 5:
08.00 Breakfast
08.30 Walking tour of Veliko Tarnovo and departure to Preobrajenski Monastery
  • It was founded in the 14th century with the financial support of Tsar Ivan Alexander. When Bulgaria fell under Turkish yoke, the monastery was burnt to ashes. In 1825 it was restored in its current location. Construction of the monastery church began in 1834 and it was completed by Master Kolyo Ficheto. The famous iconographer Zahari Zograf had painted the church for 3 years. The "Day of Judgement" mural painting covers the whole eastern wall of the church porch and is one of the masterpieces of the Bulgarian national revival arts. The mural paintings of Uspenie Bogorodichno (the Holy Mother), Rojdestvo Bogorodichno (Virgin Mary's Birth), and the Last super are also unique wall paintings. Today, the monastery is functional, and few monks reside there. The monastery keeps relics of Bulgarian history and culture.

12.30 Lunch in Troyan
13.30 Visit to Troyan Monastery:

The first traces of religious life in the area date back to the end of the 16th century. According to the monastery’s chronicles, kept by an unknown monk, the monastery was founded by a hermit who came to the place and built himself a simple cottage.
Between the time of its establishment and 1830, the monastery was often raided and destroyed, while its monks – killed.
Though its parts were built by various masters at different times, the monastery is remarkable for its harmony. The monastery’s dwellings are 3 and 4-storeyed, with long open verandas looking to the inner yard and columns and parapets in the style of old Bulgarian cell-schools.
Similarly to other Bulgarian monasteries, this one also has its miraculous icon, which arrived at the monastery at the time of its establishment, namely the icon of the Three-handed Holy Virgin. According to the story, the icon was donated by a monk who on his way from Mt Athos to present-day Romania .


Accommodation in Troyan. Dinner in the hotel.


Day 6:
08.00 Breakfast
08.30 Departure to Sofia
12.30 Lunch in Sofia
13.30 Visits to Dragalevski Monastery, Kremikovtsi Monastery, Boyana Church

  • The Dragalevskimonastery’s establishment dates back to 1345, the time of the Second Bulgarian State (which ended with the Ottoman invasion in Bulgarian lands at the end of the 14th century).
In addition to its valuable frescoes from three different time periods, the monastery is also famous for hosting a so-called cell school during the Ottoman rule, and producing the Dragalevtsi Testament. Besides being a cultural and educational centre (with its apogee in the 15-16th centuries), the Dragalevtsi monastery is a typical representative of the still-preserved Bulgarian monasteries, as it took acti ve part in the secret revolutionary activity against the Turks in the mid-19th century.

  • Kremikovtsi Monastery dates back to the Second Bulgarian State. In 1382, when the Ottoman troops conquered the city of Sofia, the monastery was completely ruined. 111 years later, however, it was entirely reconstructed.
The complex consists of two perpendicular residential buildings, an old church and a new church.
The new church (1902) is a nicely looking building, which keeps the relics of the monastery – The Kremikovtsi New Testament of the Middle Ages (1497) with beautiful calligraphic scripts, and a wooden iconostasis dating back to the 17th century. The residential buildings, which are more than 250 years old and the foundation of which represents a simple construction of intertwined branches, were entirely repaired in the last few years. This monastery is considered to be one of the most valuable cultural monuments of the Middle Ages to be found on the Balkan peninsula.

  • The Boyana Church is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The east wing of the two-storey church was originally constructed in the late 10th or early 11th century, then the central wing was added in the 13th century, The whole building being finished with a further expansion to the west in the middle of the 19th century.The church owes its world fame mainly to its frescoe from 1259. They form a second layer over the paintings from earlier centuries and represent one of the most complete and well-preserved monuments of Eastern European mediaeval art. A total of 89 scenes with 240 human images are depicted on the walls of the church.
The monument was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.


15.30 Walking tour of Sofia
Accommodation and dinner in Sofia


The package price includes:
Bus transportation
Accommodation in a twin room
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
English speaking guide during the whole trip
Entrance fees


Single room supplement available upon request






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