In your holiday in Bulgaria you will appreciate our dramatic mountains, haven-like monasteries, Roman and Byzantine ruins, and the excellent coffee you'll be offered wherever you go!
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Bachkovo Monastery

The most attractive destination to the south of Plovdiv is Bachkovo Monastery, an easy day-trip from the city. The fortress-like stone houses of BACHKOVO village, overgrown with flowers, give no indication of the exuberance of the monastery, a kilometre or so further up the road. Founded in 1038 by two Georgians in the service of the Byzantine Empire, this is Bulgaria’s second largest monastery and, like Rila, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A great iron-studded door admits visitors to the cobblestoned courtyard, surrounded by vine-wreathed wooden galleries and kept free of grass by sheep. Along one wall of the courtyard, frescoes provide a pictorial narrative of the monastery’s history, showing Bachkovo roughly as it appears today, but watched over by God’s eye and a celestial Madonna and Child. Beneath the vaulted porch of Bachkovo’s principal church, Sveta Bogoroditsa, are frescoes depicting the horrors in store for sinners, but the entrance itself is more cheerful, overseen by the Holy Trinity. Floral motifs in a naive style decorate the beams of the interior, where the iconostasis bears a fourteenth-century Georgian icon of the Virgin.

The church of St Nicholas, originally founded during the nineteenth century and recently restored, features a fine Last Judgement covering the porch exterior, which includes portraits of the artist, Zahari Zograf, and of two of his colleagues in the upper left-hand corner. In the old refectory you can see The Procession of the Miraculous Icon, executed by Zograf’s pupils, which repeats the pilgrimage scene portrayed on the wall of the courtyard. Finally, Sveta Troitsa, standing 300m from the main gate, contains a number of early medieval frescoes and life-sized portraits of Tsar Ivan Aleksandar and the royal family, who lavishly endowed the monastery in the fourteenth century.


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