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Bachkovo Monastery

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The Bachkovo Monastery "Assumption of Holy Virgin" has existed for more than nine centuries as an unquenchable spiritual hearth of the Orthodox faith. It was founded in 1083 by the the great Domestic of the West Grigorii Bakuriani. Initially, the holy monastery was maintained entirely by Georgian monks. Towards the end of the 11th century a literary school was established there, the monastery library of which remained famous for centuries with its Old Georgian, Byzantine and Old Bulgarian books.

In 1344 Stanimaka (now Asenovgrad) region together with the monastery was ceded to the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan-Alexander by the Byzantine Empress Anna of Savoy in exchange for promised help in the fight against John Cantacuzino. For about twenty years the monastery was praised by the Bulgarian kingthe place and received many donations. Probably at the same time, the Church of the Holy Archangels, built before the 13th century, was rebuilt.

The monastery remained within the borders of the Bulgarian state until 1364, when the Ottoman troops conquered Plovdiv, Stanimaka and other Rhodope fortresses. Despite the unfavorable conditions, during the long centuries of Ottoman rule the Bachkovo Monastery managed to preserve its spiritual influence and significance.

At the end of the 16th century the renovation of the monastery began, which lasted until the middle of the 17th century.

In 1604 the present-day main monastery church "Assumption of the Holy Virgin" was built. It was built on the foundations of the old Bakurian church on the model of the Athos triconch temples. The donor's inscription indicates that it was painted in 1643.

The old dining room, located in the preserved part of the southern wing of the monastery, was built simultaneously with the main temple in the early seventeenth century. The original marble table on which the monks ate for more than three centuries is preserved. According to its preserved inscription, it was made in 1601. In 1643, the dining room was decorated with frescoes, which in their artistic merits can be compared only with the most prominent samples of Mount Athos, such as the iconography in the dining room of the Great Lavra "St. Athanasius "(1535).

In 1745 the Bachkovo Monastery passed under the spiritual authority of the Constantinople Patriarchate and became an important center of Bulgarian-Greek cultural relations.

In the 30s and 40s of the XIX century a complete expansion of the monastery was carried out with the funds of the Bulgarian population and the guardians of the Bulgarian Revival Stoyan Chalakov and his brother Valko (of a famous Bulgarian family in Plovdiv and Edirne), who are patrons of the monastery from 1780 to 1860.

The buildings in the southern courtyard of the Bachkovo Monastery and the Church of St. Nicholas were built in 1834 during the time of the abbot Hieromonk Ananius of Bulgaria from Sliven. At the invitation of the next abbot - the Stara Zagora hieromonk Matthew, the newly built church was painted by Zachari Zograf (1810-1853), together with the open narthex of the church "St. Nicholas" and the arched passage under the church "St. Archangels" in the period between 1839 and 1841. Along with the portraits of the Plovdiv princes, the painter painted his self-portrait there.

A little later, another famous painter, Alexi Atanasov, painted on the outer wall of the dining room an unfolded panorama of the Bachkovo Monastery. It has preserved the images of all the founders and restorers of the monastery, participating in a religious procession with the miraculous icon of the Holy Virgin.

In 1894 the monastery finally passed under the authority of the Bulgarian Exarchate.

For more information:

  • Historical period

  • Ages

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