City Centre of Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia is the largest city. Founded thousands of years ago, today the city continues to develop as the country’s cultural and economic center. At present, the city has a population of 1,250,000.

City Center of Sofia: State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad (former Communist Party House), National Art Gallery, Presidential Palace, Ivan Vaxov National Theater. (Photos are from the Sofia Tourism Association)

Sofia is located in the western part of the country, on the Sofia Plain and on the lower slopes of Mount Vitosha. The city’s average altitude is 550 meters above sea level, the climate is moderate and continental, characterized by cold winters and relatively cool summers.

Sofia City Centre Map

After the breakfast we are going out to the city centre of Sofia. We are walking to the Banya Bashi Mosque first.

The mosque is seen beyond the tramcar.

The construction of Banya Bashi Mosque was completed in 1566, during the years the Ottomans had control of the city. The phrase of Banya Bashi means many baths, it was built over natural thermal spas; you can even see the steam rising from vents in the ground near the mosque walls. The phrase of Banya Bashi means many baths, it was built over natural thermal spas; you can even see the steam rising from vents in the ground near the mosque walls. The mosque is famous for its large dome, diameter 15m.

Banya Bashi Mosque Sofia

Since don’t have much time, we don’t enter the mosque and are going to a famous statue of Holy Sophia.

The Statue of Saint Sophia comes into view.

The statue, erected in 2000, stands in a spot once occupied by a statue of Leinin. Made from the copper and bronze, the statue of Saint Sophia is adorned with the symbols of power (crown), fame (wreath) and wisdom (owl). It’s 24 feet in height, stands on a 48 feet high pedestal, located in the city centre on the street, Todor Alexandrov Boulevard.

Monumental Sculpture of Saint Sofia standing on a Column

From the statue of Saint Sofia, we are walking the street of Todor Alexandrov Boulevard to the former Communist Party House Sofia.

Todor Aleksandrov Boulevard (the new business district of Sofia)

The boulevard is named after the Bulgarian revolutionary, Todor Aleksandrov. Todor Alexandrov is one of the main boulevards in Sofia. It starts at the city center, goes west at the direction of Lyulin districts, and this is one of the biggest residential areas, called “city within the city”.

On the way to the former Communist Party House, a semibasement old church is on the roadside.

Church of St. Petka of the Saddlers

St. Petka Chuech is a small one-naved building partially dug into the ground located in the very centre of both the modern and the antique city, in the subway station.

Church of St. Petka and its Interior

Actually this quaint church was built in the 14th century during Ottoman rule which explains why it is below the ground level and very simple in its exterior.

Arrived in front of the former Communist Party House Bulgaria

The former Communist Party House is now used by the National Assembly of Bulgaria. Today the building is mainly used as Government offices and the splendid Sofia Hall is occasionally used for charity concerts. The light-coloured neo-classical edifice lies at the end of the Independence Square (Largo in Bulgarian).

There is the oldest building in Sofia near here, “let’s go there.”

The orthodox church of St. George Rotunda

The Church of St. George is an Early Christian red brick rotunda, built by the Romans in the 4th century. It is situated behind the government buildings, amid remains of the ancient town of Serdica (Sofia’s old name). It is a cylindrical domed structure built on a square base.

Entrance of the St. George Church Sofia

Templon (Iconostasis) of the Orthodox Church

The Dome of St. George Rotunda, (Christ – Pantocrator, Ruler of the Universe)

Byzantine mural, Early and Second Bulgarian periods in the Rotunda

Roman Street to the Palace of Constantine the Great

After the St. George Rotunda, we are walking through the aisle in the behind building and going to the Atanas Burov Square.

Atanas Burov Square Sofia

Atanas Burov Square is located between the buildings of the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria and National Archaeological Museum and. The square was named after the prominent banker and politician Atenas Burov.

Presidential Palace is on the Atanas Burov Square.

Handsome guards marching

Took a pictura together

Walking 300 meaters to the east from the Plesidential Palace, the National Art Gallery appears.

The National Art Gallery Sofia

The National Art Gallery houses over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art. It is located on Prince Alexander of Battenberg Square, occupying most of the historic and imposing edifice of the former royal palace of Bulgaria, having been established in 1934 and moved to the palace in 1946, after the abolition of the monarchy.

Works of the Art Gallery

The exposition of orthodox arts is presented in the crypt of the monumental temple “St. Alexander Nevski” in Sofia. The collection of works of art covers a large period of time – from the adoption of Christianity as an official religion in the Roman Empire in the 4th century to the Age of Bulgarian Revival (18th – 19th century).

My favorite works

From the National Art Gallery, we are walking through the City Garden of Sofia to the Ivan Vazov National Theatre.

City Garden of Sofia : It is the central public garden, in existence since 1872.

The City Garden is located between Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, Knyaz Alexander Battenberg Street and Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko Street, in the historical centre of the city.

Walking through the City Garden of Sofia

A nice fountain in the City Garden.

Ivan Vazov National Theatre is the oldest and most authoritative theatre in the country and one of the important landmarks of Sofia. It is located in the centre of the city, with the facade facing the City Garden.

Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the view from the city garden.

Founded in 1904, the theatre was named after the prominent Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov. Ivan Minchov Vazov (June 27, 1850 – September 22, 1921) was a Bulgarian poet, novelist and playwright, often referred to as “the Patriarch of Bulgarian literature”.

Bulgarian National Theater “Ivan Vazov”

After the National Theater we are going to the Russian church. It takes five minutes.

The Russian church comes into view.

Russian Churgh in Sofia, built in 1914

The Russian Church (Church of St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker) is a Russian Orthodox church in central Sofia, situated on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard.

Facade and entrance of the Russian church

The church was built on the site of the Saray Mosque, which was destroyed in 1882, after the liberation of Bulgaria by Russia from the Ottoman Empire.

Interior of the Russian church

From the Russian church, walking to the east 300m along the street of Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, you will arrive at the monument to the Tsar Liberator.

Monument to the Tsar Liberator

The Monument to the Tsar Liberator is an equestrian monument in the centre of Sofia. It was erected in honor of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

Russian Emperor Alexander II

Alexander II was the Emperor of Russia from 1855 until his assassination on 1881. Alexander’s most significant reform as Emperor was emancipation of Russia’s serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator.

Pedestal of the monument

From the monuments of Tsar Liberator you can see the famous  cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in south. “Let’s go to there.”

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Sofia

Built in Neo-Byzantine style, the cathedral is the Patriarch of Bulgaria and it is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and primary tourist attractions.

Iconostasis of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built between 1904 and 1912. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colors, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials.

Interior of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Saint Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince. The cathedral was created in honor to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.

Saint Alexander Nevsky Icon

Saint Sofia Church is next to the huge cathedral of Alexander Nevsky. It arrive in about 3minutes.

Monument to the Unkown Warrior in front of the Saint Sofia Church; a local father is taking his daughter’s picters.

The Saint Sofia Church is the second oldest church in Sofia, dating to the 4th-6th century. In the 14th century, the church gave its name to the city, previously known as Serdica.

Saint Sofia Church, Bulgaria

The church was built on the site of several earlier churches from 4th c. and places of worship dating back to the days when it was the necropolis of the Roman town of Serdica.

Interior of Saint Sofia Church

The Saint Sofia Church is now one of the most valuable pieces of Early Christian architecture in Southeastern Europe.

Iconostasis of Saint Sofia Church

Ivan Vazov’s Grave is in the churchyard of Saint Sofia.

Lion sculpture and me in front of the Saint Sofia Church. Bulgarian seem to like lions.

It is time to go to the reserved hotel. Tired, so I am taking a short break, have a shower and have dinner and go to the bed soon. “See you!”

National Historical Museum Sofia Bulgaria

We were getting into the city of Sofia and arrived at the parking area of the National Historical Museum.

National Historical Museum Sofia Bulgaria

We arrived in front of the National Historical Museum. Then let’s enter the museum.

You pay admission fee here.

We are walking the front yard to the entrance of the museum. There are interesting sculptures on the way.

The museum and its entrance.

Founded in 1973, the National Museum of History in Sofia contains more than 650,000 exhibits and is one of the largest history museums on the Balkans.

We go up the staires of the museum to the second floor.

Second floor, exhibition room pertaining to history.

There are numerous exhibits in the room.

I have heard about the explanation, but unfortunately I almost foget.

Crafts excavated from the ruins of ancient Thracians are displayed.

Eathenware exhibition corner

Pyx (Eucharist contaner), 1626, Dechani Monastrey, silver, gilding, enamel, color stones, Chiprovtsi goldsmithery school, size 30/25 cm.

Pottery of the Thracian period

Splendid goldwork

History of costume

Unique panels

Fun, isn’t it?

It’s made from cloth, wool, paper, fur and others.

i have many pictures but it’s impossible to post everything, so I will show the pictures what I like.

Chalices of the National Historical Museum

Chalices from left. 1731, donor’s inscription, silver, gilding,floral motifs and birds, height 26 cm. 1892, donor’s inscription, from the Church of St. George in the village of Soto-chino, floral ornamentation, silver alloy 24×10 cm. 19th century, donor’s inscription, reliefs, silver, gilding niello, height 34 cm. 19th century, donor’s inscription reliefs, silver gilding, height 27 cm.

Censers from the National Museum of History, Sofia

Censer, 1763, donor’s inscription, silver, height 23.5 cm , diameter 11.5 cm. Second half the 18th century, silver, height 22 cm, diameter 10.5 cm. 1870, inscription in Bulgarian, brass, silvercoating, ht.15 cm, diam. 8 cm. 19th century , silver alloy, ht. 19 cm, diam.11cm.

Reliquaries of the National Museum of History, Sofia

Reliquary of St. Dionysius the Patriarch of Constantinople with scenes from the Bible and saints, 1744,donor’s inscription, silver gilding, 31×21×27 cm. And the Lamentation, St. Nedelya, St. Nahum, St. Clement, St. Nicholas, St. Haralampi, 1817, donor’s inscrip-tion, silver, 27×16.5×15.5 cm.

Sacred Crosses of the National Museum of History, Sofia

Cross, 1615, donor’s inscription, master hieromonk Averki, miniature wood carving, silver with gilding, inlaid stones, 8.5×21×3 cm. 18th century, silver gilding, Christ’s feasts, 22×13.5 cm. 18-19th century, glided filigree,granulation, stones, 8×16 cm. 19th century, miniature wood carving, silver gilding, filigree, color stones, 28.5×14 cm.

The repousse icon of the Virgin of Kikska, 1831, donor’s inscription, silver alloy with gilding, 16×12 cm.

This is my favorite icon.This Virgin Mary closely resembles my deceased mother. Seen the icon I remembered my mother who was very kind for anyone like the Virgin. I involuntarily droped tears in front of the icon.

Beautiful Royal Crouns, set with jewels, especially many pearls.

The last room of the museum. It is a unique ceiling, isn’t it?

It,s time to leave the National Historcal Museum of Sofia. I got some picture postcards at the souvenir shop and went outside.

Picture postcards of the National Historcal Museum of Sofia.

When I left the museum, there was a cute little lady, so I pointed my camera at her and the mother picked up the lady and took a pose. Thanks!

Bulgarian little lady

Tokyo is 11:30 pm and Sofia is 5:30 pm now, I hope the little lady is doing fine.

From the National Museum of History, going to the booked hotel in Sofia.

Booked hotel Sofia Princess and my room.

Taken a short rest in the room, I took a walk around the hotel for about an hour.

Walking for 5 minutes north from the hotel, you can see the Central Bus Station.

Central Bus Station Sofia, long-distance buses depart and arrive at home and abroad.

Central Railway Station Sofia.

The station is main passenger station and the largest in the country. It is located 1 km north of the city center with the famous Lions’ Bridge.

The square in front of the station, has a basement with a tram station and a commercial facility.

Well, let’s go to the Lions’ Bridge.

Lions’ Bridge, Sofia

Built 1889-1891, the Lions’ Bridge is over the Vladaya River in the centre of Sofia. It’s a  junction of Marie Louise Boulevard and Slivnitsa Boulevard, at which it is located, connecting the Central Railway Station with the city centre.

Klokotnitsa Street Sofia

Mow, I’ll retun to the hotel. Have supper with the frends, talk about today’s events with them and go to the bed early. I’m tired a little. Good night! “See you.”

Fortress Trayanovi Vrata Bulgaria

From Plovdiv, we are going to the next destination of Sofia.

We were running to the west along the national highway A1 to Sfia, and getting into a small town of Kostenets. The guide took us to the ruins of old gate (Trayanovi Vrata).

Going to the ruins and arrived at the parking area and a small museum.

From here we are walking to the ruins. Trayanovi Vrata or Trajan’s Gate is a historic mountain pass in Sofia Province. It is located to 75km west from Plovdiv.

The entrance to the ruins and the monument.

Fortress Trayanovi Vrata

Trayanovi Vrata (Trayan’s Gates) is a historical area and a small fortress (nowadays in ruins) over the hill between the Mt. Eledzhik and Mt. Golak of Sredna Gora, under which today is built the only tunnel on Trakia motorway.

Walking inside of the fortress, the original replica is on the way.

Built in II century, Trayanovi Vrata or Trayan’s Gates was named after Roman Emperor Trajan, on whose order a fortress by the name of Stipon was constructed on the hill over the pass, as a symbolic border between the provinces of Thcera and Macedonia.

Trayanovi Vrata (Gate of Trajan or Trajan’s Gate) Bulgaria.

Roman Emperor Trajan

Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps (“the best ruler”), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death.

He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

At this place, close to the Thracian settlement, was constructed a Roman road station, called Sineum. From it the Trayan Pass begins, also called Souki narrow valley. Trayanovi Vrata fortress was 15 steps wide and 24 steps high.

Ruins of the fortress Gates of Trajan

Ruins of the fortress Gates of Trajan

The Battle of the Gates of Trajan, between Byzantine and Bulgarian forces.broke out in 986 AD. It took place in the pass of the Trayanovi Vrata, in Sofia Province. It was the largest defeat of the Byzantines under Emperor  Basil II.  After the unsuccessful siege of Sofia he retreated to Thrace, but was surrounded by the Bulgarian army under the command of Samuil in the Sredna Gora Mountains. The Byzantine army was annihilated and Basil himself barely escaped.

Cruel Byzantine Emperor Basil II, called Bulgarian murderer (killer). And his troops.

The Emperor Basil II plucked out the Bulgarian captives’ eyes and made them return to their homeland.

Captives of Bulgarian soldiers and the Bulgarian commander Samuil.

Commander Samuil fainted at the sight of them and exploded in anger. Eventually he annihilated Byzantine’s army in the pass of the Trayanovi Vrata. Later he made to fall some Byzantine cities.

Ruins of Trayanovi Vrata, the Battleffield of the Gates of Trajan.

Traces of strong soldiers’ dreams and summer grass.

Bulgaria, Trakia highway, Trayanovi vrata tunnel. Ruins of Fortress Trayanovi Vrata is on this tunnel.

Fortress Trayanovi Vrata was an unexpected behavior. We have to go to Sofia hastily.

Old Town of Plovdiv

Left the village of Bachkovo, going to the old town of Plovdiv.

The Old Town Map of Plovdiv

1. Anastas Gallery 2. St. Konstantin and Elena Church 5. Nedkovic House Museum 7. Ethnographic Museum 8. Saint Nedelya Church 9. Ancient theatre and Nebet tepe

Narrow streets in the old town of Plovdiv

Walking to the St. Nedelya church, Plovdivh

Arrived at the St. Nedelya Church.

Orthodox church of St. Nedelya in Plovdiv

Entrance of the St. Nedelya Church.

Orthodox church of St. Nedelya in Plovdiv was built in its current appearance in 1831 – 1832. The St. Nedelya church is one of the largest Orthodox churches in Plovdiv.  The St. Nedelya church is named after the Holy Martyr Nedelya, the name means “Sunday”, in Greek.

Portraits of St. Nedelya

St. Nedelya, also known Saint Kyriaki is  a Christian saint, who  martyred under the emperor Diocletian. She was born in Asia Minor, and she dedicated herself to God since early childhood, vowing to remain virgin all her life. She was betrayed for being a Christian believer, caught by the orders of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and tortured to death, her last words were “To die for Christ is life for me.”  

Interior of the St. Nedelya

Dome of the St. Nedelya Church

The dome of the middle nave is 9 m in diameter and is supported by twelve columns symbolizing the Twelve Apostles.

From the St. Nedelya church, walking 2 or 3 minutes, about 100 m, Nedkovic House Museum appeares. The house of the prosperous Karlovo-born fabric merchant Nikola Nedkovich was built in 1863.

Nedkovic House Museum

The Nedkovic House Museum belongs to the classical examples of a symmetric Plovdiv house. It is a two-floor building with a symmetric plan, a high ground floor and a gorgeously shaped gate.

Nedkovic House Museum

Cobbled pathway: Walking to the next house of Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv.

Arrived in front of the Ethnographic museum.

Since 1938, the Ethnographic Museum has occupied the merchant house, Argir Kuyumdzhioglu, built in 1847 in the city’s Old Town. It is a fine example of the Bulgarian Baroque architecture of the National Revival Period.

An exhibition room of the Ethnographic Museum.

The exhibition room, exhibts and the garden.

Left the museum, I met a young traveler in the garden. We had a short chat along the way to the hill, called Nebet Tepe, nearby. He is from the U.S and once lived in Misawa Base Japan as a solder in The U.S Air Force.

Young traveler from America. We parted at the hill of Nebet Tepe. “Have a nice trip!”

Park of Nebet Tepe and view from the hill

Nebet Tepe is one of the hills of Plovdiv where the ancient town was founded. The earliest settlements on Nebet Tepe are dated back to 4000 BC. (The name Nebet means guard and tepe is hill, so it is the hill of the guards.)

Ruins of Nebet Tepe

The site was first settled by Thracians, later expanded by Philip II of Macedon and the Roman Empire.

Water supply. Stone walls and ancient water reservoir. Eastern fortification. Southwestern Stone Walls

Today, the archeological complex on the hill is one of the most popular tourist sights and the park is a oasis for citizens in Plovdiv.

There is a museum at the edge of Nebet tepe park. It’s called Atanas Krastev House.

The entrance of Atanas Krastev museum

House-museum of Atanas Krastev Plovdiv

Close to Nebet Tepe hill, this late 18th-century house was the residence of local painter and conservationist Atanas Krastev, until his death in 2003.

Interior of the Atanas Krastev House-museum

His self-portraits and personal collection, mostly abstract 20th-century Bulgarian paintings are displayed inside the beautifully furnished house, along with personal mementos.

Garden of the Atanas Krastev House-museum

The garden is worth an amble for its red upsid-down pony murals and scattered artefacts.

Mural painting in the curtyard of House-museum with red upside-down pony

After the hill of Nebte Tepe, walking down the hill for about 3 minutes you can get to the church of St Constantine and Helena.

The Cchurch bell tower could be seen distance.

The Church St. Constantine and Helena is located in the center of the ancient part of Plovdiv, on the ruins of the fortress wall (Akropola) and is the oldest church in the town. It was built on the ruins of Christian sanctuary dating back to the beginning of 4th century.

Arrived in the church.

The Church St. Constantine and Helena

Church of St Constantine and Helena is one of its most beloved in Plovdiv. Dedicated to Emperor Constantine the Great and his mother, Helena, it was built on the spot where two Christian martyrs were beheaded in the year 304.

Amazing mural paintings of the St Constantine and Helena church

These murals are painted on the walls of the porticoc.

The church was named after Emperor Constantine the Great and his mother Elena. During the years, the building was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current edifice was constructed in 1832 with the help of local patriots.

Interior of St Constantine and Helena

Saint Constantine the Great and his Mother, Saint Helena

The Roman Emperor, Constantine, approved Christianity by issuing the Milan Royal Decree. Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived most of his life as a pagan, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptised by bishop of Beirut. Helena, or Saint Helena was an Empress of the Roman Empire and mother of Emperor Constantine the Great. She converted to Christianity around 313. After that she invested personal property and worked on pilgrimage and charity.

I am a Japanese, so I did not know anything about Emperor Constantine and  Empress Helena. When thinking that the many people were martyred in Rome, I think that it is natural as they became the saints.

From the church of St Constantine and Helena, we are walking to the famous ancient theatre (Roman theatre).

Walking to the Roman theatre from the church of St Constantine and Helena

(Roman ruins near the church of St. Constantine and Helena. City Gallery of Fine Arts. Church of the Holy Mother of God. Souvenir shop near the Roman theatre.)

Arrived at the Roman theatre.

The Roman theatre is one of the world’s best-preserved ancient theatres, located in the old town of Plovdiv. It was constructed in the 90s AD, under the ruler-ship of Emperor Domitian. The theatre can host between 5000 and 7000 spectators and it is currently in use. The theatre is located on the Southern slope of the Three Hills, in the col between Taksim and Dzhambaz tepe, in the lowland of the Rhodope Mountains.

Ancient theatre of Philippopolis. In outline, the theatre is a semi-circle with an outer diameter of 82 meters.

Philippopolis is one of the ancient names of the city of Plovdiv. In 342 BC Philip II of Macedon conquered the Thracian town of Eumolpias and gave it his name. Later, Philippopolis became part of the Roman empire and capital of the Roman province Thracia.

The scaenae frons (The background or rear of the stage), the theatre of Philippopolis.

The scaenae frons and the Parodos

Statues – part of the decoration of the scaenae frons

Arch of the Gateway

The marble seats and the stone stairs, hard to walk.

Sat down on the marble sheet and took a rest for a while, then I left here.

Left the Roman theatre for the hotel, I found a house museum called Lamartine House-Museum and entered its garden.

Lamartine House-Museum

The house of Georgi Mavridi (Lamartine House-Museum) was built in 1829 at a corner-spot of three streets. While passing through Bulgaria in 1838, the great French poet Alphonse de Lamartine spent only three days in the house of Georgi Mavridi.

Scenery on the way to the hotel. It’s time to leave the city of Plovdiv. We are walking to the hotel.

On the way to the hotel, I found a funny statue on the street called “Knyaz Alexander.”

What kind of picture are he drawing?

The city of Plovdiv was a lot of fan, the village of Bachkovo was also interesting. All the residents were kind for ous. Arigatou, I greatly appreciate them. I’m going to Sofia now. Sayonara (So long)!

Bachkovo Monastery

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.

Façade of the Bachkovo Monastery

The Bachkovo Monasteryis an important monument of Christian architecture and the second largest monastery in Bulgaria.

Main entrance of the monastery

Very beautiful mural on the wall of main entrance

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.

Bachkovo Monastery. Ossuary (Funeral church today), the oldestpreserved building. Bachkovo Monastry 1930. Founders of the monastery, the mural paintting from Ossuary.

After passing through the main gate, we will appear in the courtyard of the monastery.

Abbey Courtyard, the left side building is cells for monks, right side is the church. View from the northern courtyard of the monastery.

The courtyard of the monastery. The left is the main entrance, the center is the information center and souvenir shop.

Monk’s Dwelling

The entrance of the monk ‘s residence has strange things, a pair of deer horn and a turtle shell. I do not know what these mean.

Frescos on the outer wall of the Old Refectory, It’s the biggtst fresco in Bulgaria from 14th century.

Main Monastery Church, Assumption of the Holy Virgin

Entrance of the Monastery church

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.

Entrance of the Holy Virgin

Narthex of the Holy Virgin Church

Stacidia in the Nave

Nave of the Holy Virgin Church, Dome and Alter

Alter, Assumption of the Holy Virgin

The mural paintings of the church were colorful and interesting. The altar was solemn and beautiful. I was moved and then went outside.

Cute angel statues and rised chikens and sheep in the courtyard.

St. Archangels church of Bachkovo Monastery

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.

Church of St. Nikolas

St. Nikolas church had been built in 1936 in the Southern Monastery Yard. The whole inner walls has been decorated by the famous frescoes.

Last Judgement ; heaven, hell and traditional depictions of saints and sinners.

The dome the church, fresco of Christ Pantocrater.

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.

The Museum of Bachkovo Monastery

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 Old Kitchen and refectory

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.

From this gate, we are walking to the Ossuary.

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.

Monastrery Ossuary

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 first floor of the ossuary, frescos and bones of monks.

Interior of the scond floor, funeral church Ossuay.

Right next to the ossuary is the monastery graveyard for the monkes.

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.

Narrow mountain path, sheep farm then waterfall appears on a foot mountain.

Picturesque path, walking to the Kluvia

The Holy Spring of the Archangel Michael Church

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.

Rock staircace to the rock chapel

Arived at the rock chapel of Kluvia

Alter of the Rock Chapel Kluvia

Interior of the Rock Chapel Kluvia

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.

St.Archangel Michael’s Chapel Kluvia

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.

Small lovely iconostasis of the church

The frescos of the St. Archaengel  Church

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.

Cascades around the St. Archangel Church

Unfortunately running out of time, we had to get back to the foot of the Bachkovo  Monastery immediately.

The Miraclles of Holy Virgin

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 locals are looking forward to the celebration of Miraculous Virgin Mary evry year.

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.

Souvenir shops at the foot of the Bachkovo Monastery and the landscape in the vicinity.

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!


Village of Bachkovo Bulgaria

The Garden of Park Hotel Imperial Plovdiv

Left the hotel, we are going to the Bachikovski Monastery.The village of Bachkovo is situated in the west part of Rhodopes Mountains, 28 km from Plovdiv.

Scenery on the way to the village of Bachkovo.

The car goes south along  the river of Chepelare, that takes its source from Rozhen Peak (around 1,500 m above sea level) in the Rhodopes, its length is about 87 km.

Chepelare River flowing through Bachkovo Village

The Chepelare runs through the town of Chepelare, the Bachkovo Monastery, as well as the second largest city of Plovdiv Province, Asenovgrad, further downstream, before emptying into the Maritsa River.

Arrived in the village of Bachkovo

The picturesque river of Chepelarska flows through the village. The village of  Bachkovo has a population of 300 inhabitants. It does not have any administrative functions. Located amidst the old green forests of the mountain, the village is a ideal place for ecological tourism. There are lots of chalets and well-marked tourist routes in the area.

The village centre of Bachkovo, from here we are warking to the monastery.

Walking to Bachkovo Monastery along the river of Chepelarska

Approached the monastery, a lot of shops appear.

The arch appears, we enter the sanctuary.

Going up the path. The path clims gently up to the monastery.

We arrived at Bachkovo Monastery at last.

Let’s get into the monastery.


Plovdiv Bulgaria

On the way to the city of Plovdiv we took a late lunch at a local Blugarian cuisine restaurant.

Restarant Karutsata

Salaad with ham and cheese, Stew in the bread, Meat dish, Enjoying Rakia

All the dishes were good, I ate too much of that food.

Arrived at the booked Imperial Plovdiv Hotel.

Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria with 343,424 inhabitants. It is located in the Thracian plain on both banks of the Mariza near the Rhodope Mountains. The city is the administrative center of the municipality and province of the same name and the seat of two other municipalities, Mariza and Rodopi.

After taking some rest in the hotel room, I took a taxi going to the old town of Plovdiv with the woman.

Plovdiv city center map

Hisar Kapiya (fort gate) and Balabanov house (modern art gallery) old town of Plovdiv.

Hisar Kapia is a medieval fort gate and one of the most famous tourist sights in the city. The gate was built in Roman times, probably the 2nd century  AD. The Balabanov house was built in the early 19th century by Hadzhi Panayot Lampsha, Bulgarian citizen, born in Plovdiv. Today it’s a gallery of modern Bulgarian art.

Arestaurant with huge mural on the wall, the old town of Plovdiv

Dzhumay Park, it is located in the center of old town of Plovdiv.

Dzhumay Mosque is next to the Park.

Dzhumaya Mosque (Hüdavendigâr Camii) was built in 1363–1364 on the site of the St. Petka Tarnovska Church after the conquest of Plovdiv by the Ottoman army.

The prayer hall of Dzhumaya Mosque

The mosque is large, with a 33 m × 27 m prayer hall. The minaret is at the northeast corner of the main façade. Interior wall paintings date to the late 18th to early 19th centuries.

Ancient Stadium of Philipopolis is in front of the mosque.

Philipopolis is an ancient city in southern Bulgaria, named from Ancient Greek Φιλιππόπολις (Philippópolis).

Ancient Stadium of Philipopolis Old Town of Plovdiv

The Stadium of Philipopolis was built at the beginning of 2nd century AD by Emperor Hadrian. The Stadium was approximately 240 metres long and 50 metres wide.

Dzhumaya Square of Old Town of Plovdiv, at that time it started raining.

Dzhumaya Square of Plovdiv, we should get back to the hotel hastily.

We took a taxi to the hotel. When we got into the hotel a wedding was beginning. So, I asked them to take pictures of the new couple and if I could put it on my blog. They agreed and posed for the photos.

Beauty and Beast, oh sorry I mistyped, handsome couple, congratulations. This is my pretty fair lady, who was invited to the wedding reception. We becam friends.

We will go for city sightseeing of Plovdiv, tomorrow.

The time is now 10:40 p.m. in Tokyo. Good night.