The Monasteries in Bulgaria - Bulgarian Orthodox Monastery Guide!


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Rozhen Monastery "St Birth of Virgin Mary"

The Rozhen monastery is the biggest sanctuary in the Pirin region and one of the few Bulgarian monasteries of the Middle Ages, which has survived relatively intact up to present days. According to annals kept in Atone, Greece, the monastery dates back at least to 890 AC - for comparison, the biggest monastery in Bulgaria, the Rila monastery, is believed to have started functioning in 917 AC. The church of the monastery, named St Birth of Virgin Mary, later gave its name to the nearby village of Rozhen (Rozhen coming from the root of the Bulgarian word for birth, 'Rozhdenie'). The monastery was destroyed by fire in the early 17th century, but was rebuilt in the beginning of the 18th century with the financial support of wealthy Bulgarians from all over the country. The monastery saw its apogee in the 19th century when it served as a regional spiritual centre and had numerous real estate holdings in the surrounding area. The end of the monastery's heyday was put by a famous local revolutionary, Yane Sandanski, who together with his relatives seized real estate properties of the monastery. Nowadays, the monastery is well maintained and open to visitors all over the year.


Rozhen Monastery owes its fame above all to its carved iconostases and lecterns. Some of them are extremely complicated compositions, both in intent and in actual execution, in which Biblical themes have given full scope to boundless imagination which reached the peaks of decorativeness. Rozhen Monastery has left us with a treasure in yet another art - that of calligraphy. A unique work of the calligraphic school, which existed here as early as in the 14th century, is the manuscript, taken in 1674 from the Constantinople Patriarch Dositheusm, and kept today in the Holy Grave Church in Jerusalem.

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