Bachkovo Monastery, the second largest monastery in Bulgaria (Rila Monastery being the largest) is one of the five stauropegic institutions in Bulgaria – it obeys directly to the Bulgarain Holy Synod. The monastery is situated at a distance of 10 km south from the Bulgarian city of Asenovgrad, in the valley of the Chepelare River. Bachkovo Monastery is picturesquely surrounded by the hills of the Rhodopa Mountain.

In year 1083 the great Byzantine domesticos Gregory Pakourianos and his brother Abas founded the monastery. The original text of the typikon, written under the guidance of the founders, has survived through the ages and now we know that according to it, both the church and secural authorities, including the metropolitan bishop of Philippopolis (today Plovdiv) had no right to intervene in the activity of the monastery. As the founders, according to some theories, had Georgian origin, Bachkovo monastery was turned in a center of the Georgian monkhood.

In year 1344 the whole area of Asenovgrad (then Stanimaka) was ceded to the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander as a reward for the assistance he rendered to Anna of Savoy against John IV Kantakouzenos. For the next 20 years, before the occupation of the region by Ottoman forces, Bachkovo Monastery was maintained and supported by the Bulgarian Tsar. It is believed that after the Bulgarian capital city Tarnovo was captured in 1393, the Bulgarian Patriarch Evtimiy was sent into exile in the monastery, where he continued his work till the end of his life.

Bachkovo Monastery survived the Ottoman yolk and kept functioning as a center of the Bulgarian spirit and tradition. In 1894 the monastery became part of the Bulgarian eparchy. It functioned as a shelter for the Plovdiv ecclesiastical between 1941 and 1947. In 1947 a fire destroyed most of the rich library and a number of rare and precious books and works were lost forever. However, the monastery is considered a holy and peaceful place and two Bulgarian Patriarchs – Cyril and Stephan are buried there. It is believed that the grave of Evtimiy of Turnovo is also in Bachkovo Monastery.

Bachkovo Monastery consists of several buildings, which form two square yards – south and north. Twice parts of the residential buildings were destroyed by fires.

  • The main church ‘Assumption of the Virgin Mary’ was built over the old Pakourianos church in 1604 and in it you can see one of the oldest Bulgarian wood-carved iconostasis.
  • The church ‘Saint Archangels’ is devoted to the Archangels Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel. According to the legend, it is built by Alexios I Komnenos. The main icon of the church is a famous medieval work of art. The vault arch of the church is drawn by the famous Bulgarian painter Zahariy Zograf.
  • The church ‘Saint Nicholas’ is built in year 1837 and its mural paintings are created by Zahariy Zograf. The paintings act as a sui generis Dante’s Inferno. In one of the corners the painter created his self-portrait.
  • The old refectory of Bachkovo Monastery is famous with its wall-paintings all around Bulgaria. This is the largest panorama wall-painting composition in Bulgaria.
  • The ossuary is located at about 3 000 metres away from the main buildings of the monastery. The first floor of the building is a tomb, and the second – a church.

Bachkovo monastery is famous with its miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. It attracts people from different parts of Bulgaria, who believe that the icon can heal them and help them find solution to their problems. Bachkovo monastery is one of the 100 National Tourist Destinations of Bulgaria. Moreover, one can organize its wedding, baptism or other ceremony in its main church. You can reach the Monastery by car from Asenovgrad. It is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.

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