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The Bulgarian monasteries in:
Rila Mountain, Pirin Mountain, Rhodopes Mountain, Balkan (Stara Planina) Mountain, Vitosha Mountain, rock monasteries

Stara Planina (The Balkan Mountains)

The Stara Planina Mountain range and the Pre-Balkan region are included in the Stara Planina area. Stara Planina (the Balkan Mountains) contains the most well-known and the longest (some 550 km) Bulgarian Mountains, that gave the name to the entire Balkan Peninsula. The highest peak is Botev, at 2376 m. To the north, the mountains wind and smoothly melt into the Pre-Balkan region and the Danube plain; to the south steep mountain slopes tower above a series of tectonic hollows and fields. High passes and saddles divide the mountains into several regions. The relief is quite diverse - from almost alpine in the highest western part, through the middle parts covered with dense forests and pastures, to the lower eastern parts with their valleys, hollows and low saddles. The mountains hide many picturesque sites - the Iskar River Canyon, Ritlite, the Belogradchik Rocks, Vratzata, Sinite Kamuni near Sliven, North Dzhendem, and Ledenika, Magura, and Temnata Dupka caves. The Central Balkan biosphere reserve that includes century old beech forests is situated in the central Stara Planina. Like the Rhodopes, these mountains have been inhabited since ancient times, and have a rich cultural historical heritage.

Troyan Monastery
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There are many monasteries in the Stara Planina area, including: The Troyan Monastery was founded in 1600. Since the 2nd half of the 18th century it has been a major cultural and scholarly center. The Troyan Damascene (17th century) and the Second Troyan Damascene were created here. During the national liberation movement, the monastery became a revolutionary center. In 1872, Vassil Levski founded a revolutionary committee; in 1876, Hr. Ivanov-Golemia's revolutionary unit was formed. During the Russian-Turkish War the monastery helped the Russian troops.

Arbanasi Monastery
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The Arbanasi Monasteries Sveti Nikola and Sveta Bogoroditza are in the village of Arbanasi in the Veliko Tirnovo region: Sveti Nikola - dates from the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, and was burned and then restored many times; it is significant for its precious wall paintings. Sveta Bogoroditza - in 1393 it miraculously survived Turkish invasion and destruction; it was renovated and inhab­ited again in 1716 and has rich frescoes from 1762 and icons.

The Batoshevski Monastery is in the village of Batoshevo in the Gabrovo region. It was founded during the reign of Tzar Michail II Assen in the 13th century, razed to the ground, and restored in 1836. It has a precious wood-carved iconostasis.

Drianovo Monastery
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The Drianovo Monastery - was founded in the beginning of the 12th century. The existing buildings were erected in 1845. It has an iconostasis from 1876, and was one of the centers of national liberation upheaval; it was visited by Levski and Otetz Mate; Preobrajenski. During the April, 1876 insurrection the Pop Hariton detachment engaged in several battles. The monastery was destroyed and burned, and later restored in 1880. In the courtyard, there is a memorial ossuary of the insurgents.

The Etropole Monastery 'Varovitetz", near Etropole was founded in the 12th century and was the most important scholarly center in the northern Bulgarian lands during the Turkish rule in the 16th - 17th century. The Etropole writing school emerged in the monastery. It was the hiding place of Levski and other revolutionaries.

The Glozhene Monastery is spectacularly perched on a cliff above the village of Glozhene in the Lovech region. It was founded in 1224, probably by the Russian prince G. Glozh, and was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. In the 18th century, it was one of the largest scholarly centers in the region. It had a rich book collection destroyed by Greek clerics in their attempt to enforce Hellenization on the Bulgarian population. Levski visited the monastery, and V. Drumev was exiled here. The existing church dates from 1930-31; the icons are painted by Z. Zograph, ST. Dospevski and others. Tourists can see the restored hiding place of Levski and V. Drumev's cell.

The Kapinovski Monastery, near the village of Kapinovo, Veliko Tirnovo region was founded in 1272, and was repeatedly plundered and restored. In 1794, Sophronii Vrachanski become abbot of the monastery and brought a copy of The Slav-Bulgarian History. In 1856 new two-storied buildings were constructed. A masterpiece woodcarved iconostasis from the old church has been preserved.

The Klisura Monastery was founded around 1240, restored in 1742, and burned and rebuilt. In 1862, on the teachers Cyril and Methodius' day, some 120 worshipers were massacred by the Turks and the monks were burned in the remains of the monastery. The iconostasis is made in the Samokov wood-carving tradition, and the icons are painted by Nikola Obraznopisov.

The Lopushanski Monastery was built of the foundations of an unknown monastery in 1850; the church dates from 1853 and has 17th century Gothic church architectural elements. The icons on the iconostasis are painted by Stanislav and Nikola Dospevski. Three woodcarved iconostases are preserved.

The Cherepishki Monastery has a scenic location on top of cliffs on the Iskar river bank. It dates from the end of the 14th century and was rebuilt in the beginning of the 17th century. The Cherepish Tetraevangelica originated from the monastery in the 15th century. The church dates from the beginning of the 17th century. The 19th century wall-high woodcarved iconostasis is in the Tryavna artistic school style and is composed of the parts of an older iconostasis.

The Chirprovtzi Monastery dates from the 10th century and was razed and restored 6 times. During the Chiprovtzi insurrection in 1688, the rich book collection of the monastery was destroyed. The monks actively participated in the uprisings of 1836, 1837 and 1867-68; in 1876, a battle was fought in the monastery.

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Last update: Wed, 22 August, 2007 16:37