Bachkovo Monastery

Bachkovo Monastery is located on the right bank of the Chepelare river (Chaya), 29 km away from Plovdiv, 89 km away from Sofia. It is not far from the mountain resort of Pamporovo.

This is the second in size and importance monastery in Bulgaria. It was founded in 1083, by Gregorios Bakouriani who was a military in the Byzantine Empire. The monastery was initially developed as a centre of Georgian monasticism. From the 13th century onwards, the monastery was on the boundaries of the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires. In 1364 it was conquered by the Ottomans, after which it seems to have become largely Bulgarian, although some Greek influences remained given the ethnic Greek population movement out of Plovidiv to mountain towns in the 17th and 18th century. In 1745 the monastery passed to the authority of the Patriarch in Constantinople, and many Greek-speaking monks moved into the monastery. In the 19th century Bulgarian influences were renewed and after a period of political struggle over the future of the church, Bachkovo finally came under the authority of The Bulgarian Exarchate in 1894. 

Things to see:
Of interest are the rich collections of old icons, jewellry, coins and church plate. The library preserves many valuable incunabula and old manuscripts. Its most remarkable feature, however, are the paintings in the church and the ossuary, where the figure of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander is discernible among the 11th and 14th century murals, in the refectory (1601), in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin main church (1604), and in the Holy Trinity and St. Nicholas church (I 840). The church is home to some of the first murals painted by the celebrated National Revival painter Zahari Zograph. Broad branches of a Diasperus Lotus tree, brought from Georgia more than two centuries ago stretch over the courtyard. The surrounding area is also quite picturesque and offers plenty of mountain hiking routes.

Photos from Bachkovo Monastery

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