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Hotspots - Monastery Towns

Monastery towns in Bulgaria are great if you are looking for a rural retreat located in a magical area full of wonder Take a look at our pick of monastery hotspots. Bulgaria’s Orthodox religious beliefs, which have survived years of Muslim and Communist occupation are ingrained into the country’s rich cultural heritage with around 120 monasteries tucked away in remote mountains, surrounded by panoramic scenery and with awesome nature. Each monastery is unique with its own intriguing history and architectural legacy.

Glozhene

On the slopes of the Stara Planina Mountains overlooking the Cherni Vit River, the enchanting village of Glozhene lies 3 km southwest of the attractive Glozhene Monastery. The towns of Yablanitsa and Teteven lie 13 km and 12km away respectively.
The Glozhene Monastery has been declared a monument of culture. It sits on the edge of a vertical rock face and the monastery’s stone terraces afford a splendid view. Legends surrounding the monastery recount that the Russian Prince Glozh established a settlement in his name on the outskirts of the Vit River. He commissioned the building of the monastery of St. Transfiguration. When the Ottomans took control of the area and began their attacks the monks built their cloister on an inaccessible rock terrace. Two earthquakes destroyed the monastery church in 1904 and 1913.

There are still bargains to be had in this area and there is quite a lot of regulated land still for sale. A small renovated two-bedroom house can cost as little as 35,000 euros.

Dryanovo

Dryanovo is also situated at the northern foot of the Balkan Range in Gabrovo Province. It lies in a picturesque gorge close to the Dryanovo River approximately 4 km away from the captivating Dryanovo Monastery, which was established by two rebel boyars from what was the Bulgarian capital of Turnovo.

During the 14th century, it provided shelter to many monks, but at the beginning of the 15th century, the monastery was destroyed by invading Ottoman troops. The monastery was reconstructed on its present site at the end of the 17th century. Its single nave was partly buried underground. The monastery became a religious and cultural centre boasting one of the largest and best preserved cloisters in the Turnovo region and today it as amongst Bulgaria’s most visited tourist spots.

Prices for a renvoated family home in this area stand at around the average for the whole country at 38,000 euros. You can still pick up a renovation bargain here for around 7,500 euros, however if you want a top end luxury build you need to think of paying something in the region of 150,000 euros.

Rozhen

The delightful village of Rozhen is situated in southwest Bulgaria in the heart of the Pirin Mountains, close to some of Bulgaria’s most famous towns, wine-producing Melnik and spa resort Sandanski as well as the medieval Rozhen Monastery. Rozhen is one of the largest and oldest monasteries in Bulgaria and one of the few monasteries, which have managed to maintain its original appearance and today it is possible to view its well-preserved unique architecture and mammoth collection of pictorial art. The monastery lies on a high hill with spectacular views out towards the magnificent Pirin and Belasitsa Mountains.

Between the 14th and 17th centuries it was a great spiritual and literary centre famed for its calligraphic school. Some great works were produced here including the capricious “Interpretation of Joy", which was ornately decorated with 117 open-worked miniatures. The monastery contains some remarkable wood-carved iconostasis and contains the grave of one of the great Bulgarian revolutionaries, Yane Sandanski, who took shelter here.

Properties in this area are full of Renaissance character and consequently in high demand and a small renovation project would cost you in the region of 30,000 euros.

Bachkovo

The small town of Bachkovo lies in the western Rhodope Mountains, 9 km from Assenovgrad and only 28 km from Bulgaria’s second largest city, Plovdiv. The town is a picture of rural idyll with the scenic River Chepelarska flowing through the middle. Surrounded by old green forests and striking mountain peaks it makes a perfect location for eco tourism. The town attracts hordes of visitors particularly during the summer and on Holy days like Easter and to this end a wealth of small shops, restaurants, cafes, and hotels have sprung up around the town. There are also many other cultural and natural sights in the vicinity including Asen’s fortress and the Bachkovo Waterfall.

Visible from the centre of the town, the Bachkovo Monastery, Bulgaria’s second largest and most important monastery after the renowned Rila Monastery, was founded in 1083 by the Byzantine military commander, Grigorij Bakuriani and his brother Abbasij. He originally named the monastery the Petrichki Monastery after the name of the neighbouring fortress.

The monastery library houses some impressive old manuscripts, but its most remarkable feature is the unique paintings mounted on just about every wall surface from the churches to the refectory.

Property in this area is hard to come by and you need to watch the market like a hawk to pick up a residence here. There is still some regulated land available at a low cost of around 14 euros a square metre.