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It was founded in the l0th century by
the Bulgarian monk St. Ivan of Rila
and was rebuilt in the l3th -l4th century. From that time are
the fortress tower (1334), the bishop's throne, richly carved doors and some
manuscripts, icon-paintings and church plates. In the l5th century, when
Bulgaria fell to the Ottoman Turks, the monastery was abandoned for a short
time but in the second half of the same century it was restored to a new
The Rila Monastery has been listed as a world monument of culture. There is an interesting legend surrounding
Rila monastery and its Saint, Ivan, who lived in the 10th century. After
his parents' death, he gave away all of
his material items, left his village and
went to live in a cave in the Rila mountains. One can visit the cave today.
Ivan lived without material possessions and grew healthier and stronger
than he had ever been. For many years people visited him in his cave
when they were sick in order to be healed. Upon Ivan's death, his body
was wrapped in a shroud and buried. His body did not decay, however, and
all those that visited his tomb were cured of their sicknesses.
Bachkovo Monastery is located 28 km South-West of
Plovdiv city. It was built in 1083 by Grigor Bakuriani, a military in the
Byzantine Empire, a Georgian by origin. The ossuary with
its exquisite architecture and wall-paintings dates from that time. The winter church of the
Archangels dates in all likelihood to the l2th century. In the early
l6th century the monastery was destroyed by the Turkish conquerors to be
restored in the late l6th century. Of great interest are the monastery
refectory (1601 ), the church of the Assumption (1604)
with murals dating from 1643, and the domed church of St Nicholas (1837), decorated in 1840
by the Revival Period painter Zahari Zograph.
Trojan monastery must have been in existence long before the l5th century, as legends suggest. It flourished again about the year 1600. From the oldest church it is only the throne stone that has been preserved. Towards the beginning of the l9th century the monastic brotherhood re-erected the monastery. In 1835 master Konstantin built a wonderful main church which was painted by Zahari Zograph in 1847-1849. The spacious residential wings with roomy verandas were built in 1835-1855. In 1865 a tower was raised in the monastery courtyard with a winter church and a belfry on the last floor.
Dryanovo Monastery of St. Archangel Michael was founded in the l2th century and is in close proximity to the summer residence of the Bulgarian rulers from the Assen dynasty. It was destroyed several times during the Ottoman domination. In its present-day site the monastery exists since 1845. The main church was built in 1861. Almost ruined after the Ottoman Turks' invasion, the monastery buildings were restored in 1880. Next to the church there is the ossuary raised in memory of the perished insurgents. In the monastery you can also find a museum collection with exhibits from all historical epochs including neolithic finds from a nearby cave.
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