The Monasteries in Bulgaria - Bulgarian Orthodox Monastery Guide!


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Kremikovci Monastery "St. George the Victorious"

As most of the monasteries presented in this website, this cloister also dates back to the Second Bulgarian State. It is believed that the monastery was built at the time of Ivan Alexander. 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. No doubt, the older church, which represents a relatively small, oblong building, is of the biggest interest in terms of its historical value. The church was built in 1493 (later renovated in 1611) and it is that period that its frescoes date to. Most of the wall paintings have been (and are still being) restored to survive to present days. These are created entirely in tune with the Bulgarian tradition of the Middle Ages. The bulk of the frescoes are painted against a dark background, against which the images of saints stand out. The composition with the church's patron, St George, on top of a white horse with his long spear stabbed into the dragon, is particularly impressive. One can notice differences in the styles of the wall paintings in the entrance and the main hall, which suggests the contribution of various artists to the internal decoration. 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 Kremikovtsi monastery, named St George, is located about 3km away from the quarter of Kremikovtsi, up in the lower parts of the Balkan mountain. After getting out of the very quarter of Kremikovtsi, one is taken by the beautiful landscape of the monastery's surrounding, where no trace of the polluted air or the unpleasant view at the foot of the hills is to be found.


It was founded during the 14th century, again probably due to Tzar Ivan Alexander, when 14 monasteries known as the "Sofia Mount Athos", were erected around Sofia. Destroyed in 1332, it was among the first monasteries to be restored later - in 1493 the buildings were restored, and St. George's Church erected, the sole survivor today. On the outside, the church is small and insignificant, like all the semi-legal buildings of those dark times. As compensation, the murals (partially preserved today) turned the interior into a glittering gallery. The spirit is here alive of the aristocratic Turnovo School. The coloring is respectfully solemn, the drawing elegant, to the point of exquisiteness, the figures are lofty and exalted. The artists of the Kremikovtsi Church were no blind imitators of traditional methods. In the overall composition of the murals, they introduced a new element, which renewed the art of the time, and became traditional. This is the richly ornamented frieze of the waist-length figures of saints and martyrs, introduced for the first time, which separated the classic upright saints from subject scenes diversifying and enriching the general picture. Kremikovtsi Monastery also contains some valuable examples of calligraphic art, which was particularly perfected here during the 15th century, when the Sofia School of Literature was created and developed at Dragalevtsi, Kremikovtsi, Kokalyane, German and other monasteries. The so-called Kremikovtsi Gospel is an example of it.


At this stage, the Kremikovtsi monastery does not offer food or accommodation, despite the relatively large residential buildings. The main reason for this is that a single nun takes care of the maintenance of the entire complex. Yet the yard is full of wooden tables and benches, which look to a marvelous view to the city and can be used by visitors for a lunch with the food they bring. This, combined with the vicinity to the city makes the "St George" monastery an appropriate destination for a one-day trip of Sofia dwellers.

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