The Bachkovo Monastery Dormition of the Holy Mother of God is beautifully situated on a ledge, on the right of the Valley of Chepelarska River, close to the village of Bachkovo and 30 km from Plovdiv. The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith.
The Bachkovo Monasteryis an important monument of Christian architecture and the second largest monastery in Bulgaria.
We should know the history befor getting into the Bachkovo Monastery. Bachkovo Monastery ‘Assumption of the Holy Virgin’ was founded in 1083 by Prince Gregory Pakourianos, a prominent statesman and military commander in the Byzantine service, as a Georgian-dominated Orthodox monastery. He set up a seminary for the youth at the monastery. The curriculum included religion, as well as mathematics, history and music.
The Monastery Cathedral, ‘Assumption of the Holy Virgin’, was built in 1604 on the place of the monastery’s oldest church destroyed by the Turks.
The mural paintings of the church were colorful and interesting. The altar was solemn and beautiful. I was moved and then went outside.
The Holy Arch-angels Michael and Gabriel is the oldest church in the inner part of the monastery estate. The church was built at the beginning of the 13th century, and was for services during the winter months.
The Bachkovo Monastery Dormition of the Holy Mother of God has three churchs, Assumption of Holy Virgin, Saint Archangels and St. Nicolas church.
St. Nikolas church had been built in 1936 in the Southern Monastery Yard. The whole inner walls has been decorated by the famous frescoes.
After the church of St. Nikolas, we are going to the museum and then the old refectory.
Museum of Bachkovo Monsdtery : During the 1930s, the more valuable and better preserved icons, church plates, vestments and other belongings of the monastery, which were no longer used in the Mass, were gathered and put in collection in the current monastery museum.
From 2007, the museum is situated in a building, created especially for this purpose, in the South Yard. Among the artifacts, there are beautifully carved wooden crosses, Holy Communion equipment, Venetian Monstrance, richly decorated icons and ornaments.
The Old Refectory with its kitchen is one of the most interesting sitesin the monastery.
The kitchen has a square foundation. Four vault arches, attached to the walls, reach up to the ceiling, which finished with 8 meter high chimney.The refectory is separated from the kitchen by a small storage chamber. It is rectangular in shape, 6.2m wide and 17m long, with an half- cylindrical ceiling. The dining table is located next to the west wall, lengthwise. It is made of large marble plates.
Left the monastery estate, we are going to the Monastery Ossuary which is situated 400 meters east from the monastery.
The Monastery Ossuary is the oldest preserved building in the area. It had been built in 1083 by Georgian Bakuriani. The roof and the ceiling were restored in 2001.
The Ossuary has two floors. On the first one, there are 14 graves, containing the bones of former monks. The second one serves as funeral church.
The ossuary is interesting with the methods of its construction. It represents a mixture of Georgian and Byzantine building traditions.
From here, we are walking to the place where the Miraculous Icon had been found. It is called Kluviata. It will take 30 minutes, 2 km away. The place is surrounded by high cliffs and the icon was well hidden among them. It is situated at the foot of the steep mountain. There is a narrow path leading to it that follows a small river. Each spring the river makes a beautiful waterfall.
I took a bite of water and washed my face at the spring for health and welfare. And then, after a few minutes walking rocky staircase appeared.
According to the legend, once upon a time at the beginning of the 17th century, two local shepherds discovered the famous miraculous icon (The Miracles of the Holy Virgin), which can be seen in the Bachkovo Monastery.
On an Easter day, the two local shepherds saw a strong, sparkling light coming out from a slit on the rock. They were surprised and collapsed on the spot, but gathered up the courage to look into the slit. And they discovered the icon, which was concealed by a monk for the frequent Turkish burning. They carried the icon to the monastery. Strangely the icon vanished next morning. They went and looked her icon again in the rock niche, at the same place where she was found. The same was repeated twice until she met one of the monks, who indicated that if they wanted the monastery to be her permanent cloister, they had to place it in a certain place in the church and in a certain iconostasis.
The St. Archangel Michael Chapel is at 200 or 300 m south of the rock church.
The church of St. Archangel Mikael’s. Every year a mess is served there on the second day of Easter. Inside, there is a well preserved fresco from the XVII century.
Outside of the church, it features a small spring, whose water is believed to miraculous – pilgrims visit it often to use some for drinking or washing.
Unfortunately running out of time, we had to get back to the foot of the Bachkovo Monastery immediately.
The Miraculous Virgin Mary Icon of the Bachkovo Monastery: On the second day of Easter, according to the Orthodox tradition, the Holy Week begins – a time when the holy apostles and the Holy Virgin are glorified.
In the Bachkovo Monastery, the traditional procession starts with the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary at the morning.
The icon is very old. It is believed to have been hidden during the Ottoman invasion in the locality of Kluvia, where it was found again in the early 17th century.
Arrived at the foot of the monastery, I got some souvenirs a bit and went back to Plovdiv.
Since I am old, I will never visit this place again. The village and the monastery of Bachkovo were very interesting and fun. Благодаря ви за село Бачково!