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Staying in monasteries in Bulgaria.

A different way to travel to Bulgaria is accommodation in Orthodox Monasteries instead of classical accommodation in hotels or apartments.. Bulgaria has almost 100 orthodox monasteries (Source: Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism), and the vast majority of them have been active for the last 1.000 years without interruption, so they have been guarantors of Culture, Tradition and Religion in Bulgaria for many generations, even resisting during the almost 500 years of Ottoman Occupation (15th to 19th centuries).

Bulgarian orthodox monk

Bulgarian orthodox monk

This is why accommodation in Bulgarian Orthodox Monasteries is a return to the past., recall an intramural way of life that has not changed substantially for centuries and that maintains its authenticity intact thanks to the isolation of mass tourism.

Nothing better to soak up the way of life of the Monasteries and learn about their turbulent history than to stay in one of them. There are not many monasteries in Bulgaria that offer accommodation and they do not appear in tourist guides, there is little information on the internet about it, Of course, they do not appear in the typical hotel reservation web pages and the only way to reserve them is by calling a mobile phone that usually belongs to the “Pope” or priest who runs the monastery and rarely speaks a language other than Bulgarian. That is why this article can be useful, both to locate them and if you want us to make the reservation process on your behalf.

 

All tourists are welcome if they want accommodation in the Bulgarian Orthodox monasteries, provided they treat the facilities and their residents with respect and good manners. In fact, tourists are not asked about their religious confession, if they have any, nor are they obliged to participate in any religious rite when they are housed. The monks are proud to display the cultural and religious heritage of their Orthodox monasteries regardless of the beliefs of the visitors., In addition, accommodation in its facilities contributes to the economic support of the Monastery itself, since the maintenance of these enclosures is very expensive for the few monks who live in each of them…

Let's go with the 5 Best monasteries for a trip with accommodation in Bulgarian Orthodox monasteries, not a random scale, rather it shows our personal preference based on our experience when we have visited them. We also give information on the activities that can be carried out during the day around these Monasteries, because apart from resting and devoting oneself to contemplation in them, Active Tourism can also be done around these Orthodox monasteries:

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Location map of the 5 monasteries

 

1 – Etropolski Monastery "Holy Trinity".

The Etropolski Monastery "Holy Trinity" is located at 6 km east of the city of Etropole. It is believed to have been founded in the 12th century. It is a complex with a church, residential and agricultural buildings. The monastery is declared a cultural heritage of Bulgaria.The church was built in the year 1859. During the 16th and 17th centuries the monastery was the largest spiritual center in northern Bulgaria. Near it is the karst source of Varovites, the water flows from inside the land and a few meters from the source of the spring forms a beautiful waterfall with water throughout the year, even in summer. The Monastery has a central landscaped courtyard with grass and surrounding are residential buildings with rooms that can be reserved by tourists.. There are two types of rooms in one part they are newly renovated and in another they are older, but in both cases they have a private bathroom and are clean and cared for as we have been able to personally verify this summer 2016. Being a monastery with few visits, it is managed only by the priest, his wife and a handyman. So staying there is like being with family, you can go days without seeing anyone if you want to…

 

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Etropole Monastery Church and residential buildings in the background

 

 

Access to the Monastery is by an asphalt road, as it is regional it has the firm with bumps (if it were a highway, the coaches full of tourists would arrive as is the case in the Rila Monastery and it would lose its charm). However, although for the driver it is a feat to avoid the potholes, For the companions it is a pleasure to cross the forest on the road that leads to the Monastery, It is a forest like out of a story with tall trees, slopes covered with fallen leaves and where only the chirping of birds can be heard. At the end of the road is the Monastery, secluded and surrounded by these stunning deciduous tree forests.

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Old haystack, still in use.

Once housed you can do different activities, apart from the rest and tranquility offered by a monastery that hardly has visitors, you can also go out and enjoy the exuberant nature that surrounds you. To do this, it is best to go hiking in the surroundings., there are 2 hiking trails we recommend, the longest is the call “eco.trail of the Monasteries” because it begins and ends in two monasteries, son 4 hours of walking route (la ida, the return can be done by Taxi), It begins at the Etropolski Monastery "Holy Trinity" , passes through the city of Etropole, Gorunaka, Bardo and ends in the Monastery of “St. Theodore Tyron ”just before reaching the town of Pravets. The hiking trail crosses forests of ancient trees, of huge roots sticking out of the ground, in some places, these roots will serve as a seat for a rest, surrounded by mosses and ferns thanks to the humidity. Of course you can also enjoy the view of the Varovites waterfall, with a waterfall of 15 meters, in spring with abundant flow, but also beautiful in winter when it freezes.

 

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Cascada Varovites

 

 

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Eco trail in Autumn

 

The other route, more short, It is 2,5 km, is named “Echoing Bell Chimes” eco trail o “Route of the Echo of the Bells” and starting from the Etropolski Monastery it takes us to the neighboring town of Ribaritsa. The route is well signposted and there are places to rest and picnic. Also allows you to see the Varovites waterfall. This route also crosses meadows that in spring are filled with flowers. The route is accessible for all ages, In addition, some sections have been equipped with railings and wooden bridges that increase the feeling of adventure and are perfectly integrated into the wooded landscape. Autumn is also an ideal season to see the fallen leaves completely covering the forest floor.

If you want some more lively distraction you can drive down to the neighboring town of Etropole about 4 km from the Monastery, it is a small city but where there are restaurants and shops, besides seeing its Clock Tower, its ethnographic museum, etc…

 

2 – Troyan Monastery "Assumption of the Virgin Mary".

As complex, Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria. Represents a remarkable cultural monument of national importance. It is located 10 km south of the city of Troyan.
According to historical documents, Troyan monastery was originally founded in the year 1.600 and restored in the period between 1.830 and 1.865. Retains its authentic shape to this day. As in other Bulgarian monasteries, this one also has its miraculous icon, which came to the cloister at the time of its creation and is called "Holy Virgin Troeruchitsa".

Monasterio ortodoxo de Troyan

Orthodox monastery of Troyan

In 1.835 The residential houses that exist to this day were built in the eastern part, north and west. In 1843, in front of the main monastic courtyard, the inn buildings were built. Therefore, this Monastery has a long tradition of hosting travelers and pilgrims.. Like other monasteries, the Troyan Monastery also served as a refuge for the rebel Vasil Levski (1837 – 1873), who formed a revolutionary committee against the Ottoman occupation within the monastery itself. The monastic secret committee had 80 monks united for the cause of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke. You can even see the place where Vasil Levski was hiding when the Ottomans came to the Monastery looking for him.

The central patio has hundred-year-old trees of enormous size, worthy of the best botanical garden, in addition to the fact that the Monastery is located in a privileged place, on the banks of the Cherni Osam river, surrounded by a fir forest in the center of the Central Balkan Mountains. Therefore, as soon as one leaves the Monastery, one is surrounded by virgin Nature., ideal for a walk. You can also taste some fantastic river trout in the restaurants in the area, typical dish of the area that will not disappoint if you like fish, they also do it grilled on large grills as if it were meat, providing a smoky flavor that goes very well to the dish…

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Like the Etropolski Monastery, the cells to stay are divided between a building that has just been renovated (Summer of 2016) and another older, one is newer and the rooms are brand new but the old one is more picturesque because the cells face the central courtyard. The monks who live continuously in the monastery are 12 and there are from young to old, They occupy cells identical to those of the tourists within the central courtyard.

If you want to do some excursion by car in the vicinity, we recommend the Chiflik area, famous in the country for its spas with natural hot springs in the middle of the mountains of the Central Balkan Mountains.

The Troyan monastery is the third largest in Bulgaria and due to its importance it is quite visited, if what you want is to have total tranquility we give you the option of the Zelenikovski Monastery of San Juan Bautista which is located 5 km from the neighboring town of Cherni Osam, very close to Troyan. It is semi-abandoned but is still run by a grandmother who we can ask for accommodation and who will kindly open the doors of the enclosure just for us.

 

3 – The Klisura Monastery of "Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius".

The Klisura Monastery of “Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius” is located at the foot of the Todorini Kukli peak (1.785 m) on the mountain of Stara Planina, a 9 km from the town of Berkovitsa and 12 km de Varshets, is the Northwest part of Bulgaria. To get there from Sofia you have to go around the mountains of “Vratsa Balkans”.

Klisura Monastery was founded in the first half of the 13th century and at that time it was called Vreshtitski Monastery, due to its location in the valley of the river Vreshtitsa. During its many years of existence, the monastery was destroyed, looted and restored multiple times. In the courtyard of the monastery there is a fountain whose water is considered curative. It is currently run by nuns and accommodation is offered to tourists.

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Klisura Monastery garden

 

Apart from being able to go hiking in the nearby mountains, Quick access to the spa town of Varshets from the Klisura Monastery, small town with prestige since Roman times for its natural hot springs. Currently several hotels in this town, as well as the Municipal Spa, They offer Spa services with the natural hot springs of the springs in the area, It is not necessary to stay to access these spas, You can stay in Orthodox monasteries and spend the day in one of these spas.

 

4 – Monasterio Cherepishki “Assumption of the Virgin Mary”.

Cherepishki Monastery “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” is located at 29 km al sureste de Vratsa, on the banks of the river Iskar.
The monastery was built during the reign of Tsar Shishman (reigned between 1371-1395). There is a legend according to which the name of the monastery comes from the bones of the soldiers who died in the late 14th century battle between Tsar Ivan Shishman and the Ottoman invaders. It is a monastery run by monks and offers up to 35 places for visitor accommodation.

 

monasterio ortodoxo de cherepish 3

 

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It has the peculiarity of being in a mountain ravine that forms the valley through which the Iskar river flows., the place seems inaccessible from above, however a narrow road allows to reach it without problem. The place is like something out of a story with a river with a wide flow, that flows all year, at the foot of the Monastery and the lush hills that form the valley where it is located. In addition, its proximity to Sofia allows you to leave the bustle of the capital for a few days and enjoy the tranquility that accommodation in Orthodox Monasteries like this one brings.

 

5 – Monasterio de Sveta Bogoroditsa o Sedemte Prestola (The seven thrones).

It is located in a picturesque valley, through which the Gabrovska river flows, in the center of the Central Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria. The Monastery is at 86 km from the capital, Sofia and 50 km from Vratsa. The monastery is located below the top of the Stara Planina Izdremets mountain (1.492 m) and is surrounded by forests. The monastery and its surroundings were declared a Natural and Cultural Heritage of Bulgaria, a special qualification that combines its Cultural and at the same time Natural value due to the environment that surrounds it.

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Sedemte_prestola

Natural environment surrounding the Monastery

Officially the Monastery bears the name of “Sveta Bogoroditsa”, but few people know him by that name, the usual is that they call it as the Sedemte Prestola Monastery (or in spanish: of the seven thrones). This denomination is thought to come from the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (13th and 14th centuries) when 7 boyar brothers built in sanctuary, hence its name “The 7 Thrones”. However the monastery had been founded previously, in the 11th century and during the centuries of its existence it was a cultural and educational center: books were copied in it to widen its diffusion. The oldest building preserved in the monastery is the main church of the monastery, which is considered to have been built in the 10th or 11th centuries. Over the years, the church and the monastery were destroyed and rebuilt several times. In its current form, the church exists since 1815. According to other historians the name of the monastery comes from the specific division of the church: a cross-shaped nave and six thrones (chapels).

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Views from the Monastery

 

The Monastery is known in Bulgaria, in addition to its division into 7 separate rooms, for owning a large antique lamp in his church, made of painted wood. The Monastery garden is very beautiful and several species of rare plants grow in it. It also has an impressive centennial specimen of the sequoia tree. As in the previous ones, accommodation is possible, You just have to respect certain rules such as the prohibition of consuming alcohol or leaving / entering the premises at night.

If you want to try a different experience, try accommodation in Bulgarian Orthodox monasteries. We can prepare a circuit around the country to suit you that includes spending the night in one or more of them, ask us…

2 comments

  1. March Reply at

    What is the price per night?. We are 3 Adults.

    • Luis Carro Reply at

      The price is similar to that of a hotel of 2** oh 3***. We can make you a travel program that includes accommodation in these monasteries, write to us info@senderismoeuropa.com and we can offer you a tailor-made trip…

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