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.

Town of Shipka Blugaria

I came back to the town of Shipka from Shipka Pass. The rural town is quiet and peacefull. The guide took me to the Thracian tomb in the mound of Shushmanets first.

Scenery of Shipka

The Thracian tomb at Shushmanets Mound is a masterpiece of Thracian architecture. It was built as a temple in the 4th century BC and later used as a tomb.

Thracian tomb Shushmanets comes intto view.

Temple in mound Shushmanets is dated 4th century BC. It was robbed in the antiquity.

Arrived in front of the Thracian tomb at Shushmanets. Let’s get into the tomb.

The temple has a long and wide entry corridor and an antechamber, a semi-cylindrical room supported by an elegant column. The top of this column has the form of a knucklebone.

Inside of the museum, from here walking into the tomb.

The Antechamber

The central room is circular in shape, supported by a beautiful polished Doric column ending with a large disc symbolizing the sun. The tomb’s columns represent Thracian beliefs about the universe and the creation myth.

The Central Room

Archaeologist Georgi Kitov discovered the tomb in 1996. Thracian ruins, “Thracian tomb Griffins” and “Temple in the Helvetia Mound” are near here.

Thracian tomb in Shipka, from a guidebook.

After the Thracian ruins I am going to the next destination, Shipka Memorial Church.

Leaving the Thracian Ruins.

Going to the Shipka memorial church.

Arrived at the parkinglot of Shipka memorial church.

It started rainning.

Shipka Memorial Church

Shipka Memorial Church or Shipka Monastery (Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ) is a Bulgarian Orthodox church built in the town of Shipka between 1885 and 1902

The western facade and the entrance

The church is, together with the other parts of the Shipka Monument complex, dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers that died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78.

Interior of the church

The church altar and the dome

The opening and consecration of the Shipka Memorial Church coincided with the 25-year anniversary of the Battles of Shipka Pass. In 1970, the temple was proclaimed a national monument of culture.

The onion-shaped gold-plated domes

The church’s bell tower reaches a height of 53 m and its bells, the heaviest of which weighs 12 tons, were casted from the cartridges that were collected after the battles.

The church yard

The statue of a girl mourning the war dead

Leaving the Shipka Memorial Church

Leaving the town of Shipka

Sayonara (Goodbye) the town of Shipka! It was a lot of fun. Arigato! (Thank you!).

Shipka Pass Bulgaria

.Shipka is a town in central Bulgaria, part of Kazanlak Municipality. It lies in the Central Balkan Mountains, at 650 metres above sea level. As of 2005, Shipka has a population of 1 333.

From the city of Kazanlak, I’m going to the little and famous town of Shipka, Bulgaria.

Arrived in a small town of Shipka.

Let’s go to the Shipka National Park-Museum  first.

Shipka National Park-Museum is the open-air museum founded on the same area where the decisive and bloody battles of the Russian-Turkish Liberation War took place during the 1870’s which ended Turkish rule in the Balkans. Serbia, Montenegro and Romania, the Bulgarian Opalchentsi and the Finnish Guard Regiment also took part in the war on the side of Russia.

Shipka Pass (altitude 1,306m) is located 13 km noth from the town of Shipka on the winding road.

Parking lot at the Shipka Pass.

Arrived in the parking lot of the Shipka Pass I’m going to climb the monument hill.

From the Parking lot climbing the long stone stepsin the forest.

After a while the Monument of Librty comes into view.

Climed the stairs of about 900 steps you can reach the top of Mt. Stoletov (1,326 m). It was really hard to walk up the steps. You shouid come here when you are young.

Arrived in a small square.

There are some reliefs of the battle here.

Battle fighting relief here.

Arrived at the Shipka Monument of the Liberty I’m going into the monument.

Monument of the Heroes or Shipka Memorial (Monument of The Liberty).

Monument of the Heroes Shipka

The monument is part of a national park-museum Shipka. “Monument of The Liberty” is a monumental construction, located at Shipka summit in Stara Planina Mountain, north of town of Shipka. The memorial complex was erected in memory of the fallen Bulgarian volunteers and Russian soldiers during the Shipka battles in the summer of 1877.

Second floor of the Shipka Momument.

On the ground floor of the memorial there is a large marble sarcophagus, where bones of Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers are kept. On the next floors there are various objects , military flags and relics related to the epic battle.

View from the top of Monument of Heroes

After the museum of Monument of the Heroes I will go back to the town of Shipka. 

Cannon at the time of Bulgarian War of Independence

There is such a monument on the way back.

It is the monument of the “September 1927 Armed Uprising” Bulgaria.

Wandering about Kazanlak

From the Rose Valley I arrived in the Park of Rose Garden of Kazanlak, that’s located in the city centre.

Park Rose Garden

The Rose Museum is in the Park of Rose Garden. Let’s get in the museum.

Exhibition room of the Rose Museum, Kazanlak.

Rose-picking/producing has been an important industry in Bulgaria since at least 1650. The first export of rose oil was recorded in 1740, sold to a French perfume company as a raw material for the much-desired essential oils.

Description of Kazanlak’s Roses

Farming Tools for Roses, Distillation Still, Containers of Rose oil and Rose Fragrance Research Desk.

Flower Bed of the Rose Museum

Ethnographic Complex “Kulata” is a Folk Museum in the Кулата (Kulata) district of Kazanlak. 

Ethnographic Complex “Kulata”

Kurata Folk Museum

Kulata Museum of Ethnographic Complex (Folk Museum) is originally a mansion of the wealthy Hazenov who produced rose oil.

Let’s get in the fork museum.

The visitors can expect to taste rose jam, rose juice and rakia first.

The second floor of the house : veranda, guest room, bedroom and its chest of drawers.

I’m going out to the garden from the exit of the graund floor.

Old Barn and Corrupted Wagon

The garden of the Kulata Ethnographic Complex (Museum) is very beautiful.

The Church of St. Prophet Elijah is right next of the Hulata Fork Museum.

Church of St. Prophet Elijah

Interior of St. Prophet Elijah Church, Kazanlak

The church was built around 1812 as the first Orthodox Church in Kazanlak. In order not to annoy the religious sensitivities of the Ottomans, only the roof of the church was above the ground, and to enter one had to climb down the 12 stair steps.

Beautiful Altar, Church of St. Prophet Elijah, Kazanlak.

If you would like to know about Prophet Elijah, you should read Paulo Coelho’s work “Fifth Mountain.” I really love it.

Church Yard of St. Prophet Elijah, Kazanlak

Thracian Tomb is also located in the Kulata district of Kazanlak. 

Walking up this stone starway to the Thracian tomb.

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a vaulted brickwork “beehive” tomb near the town of Kazanlak in central Bulgaria.

Protective House of the Thracian tomb Kazanlak, it’s not open to the public.

Discovered in 1944, this tomb dates from the Hellenistic period, around the end of the 4th century BC. It is located near Seutopolis, the capital city of the Thracian king Seutes III, and is part of a large Thracian necropolis.

Walking to the artificial ruins of Thracian tomb, Kazanlak

Replica of the Thracian tomb.

Photos at the time of excavation and structure of the tomb.

Thrugh the narrow entrance ( a hole in rock), walking in to the tomb.

The tholos tomb (Beehive tomb) has a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing Thracian burial rituals and culture.

Narrow corridor to the burial chamber and its ceiling with mural paintings.

Mural paintings on the walls of the corridor, Thracian Tomb

Thracian Tomb, round burial chamber. Mural painting on the dome-shaped ceiling.

These paintings are Bulgarian’s best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

Chariot Race

Thracian King and Queen

Exhibition Room of Thracian Tomb, Kazanlak

The oldest settlement of Kazanlak dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BC). During the 4th-3rd centuries BC, the land of Kazanlak was within the dominion of the Thracian ruler Seuthes III and took an important place in the historical development of Thrace during the Hellenistic era. 

Unearthed articles from the Thracian tomb, Kazanlak

I did not know anything about the Thracian history and culture, but this Thracian tomb was very interesting. It was really fun.

Left the the Thracian tomb, I stopped by a nearby souvenir shop and  bought some items, because the seller was very beautiful.

The souvenir shop near by Thracian tomb

Is Bulgaria a production center of the beautiful woman?

Rose Valley Kazanlak

Landscape, going to Kazanlak from Veliko Tarnovo.

The city center of Kazanlak, Seuthopolis Square.

Kazanlak is a Bulgarian town in Stara Zagora Province, located in the middle of Kazanlak Plain, at the foot of the Balkan mountain range, at the eastern end of the Rose Valley. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Kazanlak Municipality. The town is the tenth biggest industrial city in Bulgaria, with a population of 47,325, in 2011 census.

Arrived at the city centre of Kazanlak, I’m going to the famous rose valley.

Rose Valley Map

The Rose Valley with the cities Sopot, Karlowo, Kalofer, Kazanlak (from west to east) between the Balkan Mountains in the north and the Sredna Gora in the south.

Rose fields

The Rose Valley of Kazanlak stretches for 10-12 kilometers and is 95 kilometers long with an average height of 350 meters and an area of 1895 square kilometers.

When I got there at 9:20, the rose picking was over. But a lovely girl welcomed me.

The Rose Festival starts.

They are enjoing the rose festibal.

Locals and visitors are enjoing local danc with fork song.

Rose Queen Appears

Kids enjoy the festival.

A friendly woman took me to guide the village by the carriage.

It’s time to say goodbye to the children.

Leaving the Rose Valley.

The locals were very kind. Since I am old, I will never visit this place again. But I will not forget about them. It was very fun, happy time. Arigato (Thank you) and Sayonara (Goodbye).