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Dryanovo Monastery/ Bacho Kiro Cave

Dryanovo Monastery

Dryanovo Monastery (Дряновски манастир)

Dryanovo Monastery is functional Orthodox monastery located 5 km from Dryanovo. It is located in the beautiful canyon of the Andaka and Dryanovo river.




Location: Andaka River Valley, Gabrovo Province   Map

Constructed: 17th century

Monastery Hotel

Tel. 067/6238

Price: starting 10 lev ($8.10/£5)

Open: 9am- 6pm





History of Dryanovo Monastery


Originally Dryanovo Monastery was built in the 12th century by two rebellious brothers, Peter (Petar) and Asen (Assen) from Veliko Tarnovo. Original monastery was situated 2 km (1 mi) North of its present location in the place called Small Saint Archangel Michael. In the early 15th century the invading Turkish Ottoman armies destroyed the abbey. Surviving monks reconstructed their houses on a new location that became known as the Big Saint Archangel Michael. In the late 17th century Dryanovo Monastery got in trouble. Monks were treating wounded partisans who fought the Turkish oppressive rule over the Christians. Unfortunately this didn't sit well with the Turks so they destroyed Dryanovo along with its inhabitants. This time the monks moved Dryanovo Monastery to its present location at the entrance of the Bacho Kiro Cave. Apparently they hoped that in case of trouble they could escape the reprisals by hiding in the labyrinth of natural underground passages.


Its present appearance is due to last renovation in 1845 under father Rafail. The main church of Dryanovo Monastery was completed the same year. Despite its seclusion the monks could not escape the changes that were happening in the country. Growing national identity and bloody reprisals by Turkish Muslim rulers had its results. Bulgarian resistance grew in size and partisans often asked for help and safe harbour within walls of the Dryanovo Monastery. Some of the most famous revolutionaries took their refuge here including Vassil Levski (executed by the Turks on February 18, 1873) and Georgi Izmirliev "Makedoncheto" or The Little Macedonian (executed by the Turks on May 28, 1876). Special secret rooms was reserved to treat the wounded and feed the partisans. Eventually it was drawn in a conflict between official government and the partisans. In fact this was the site of several battles including the failed April Uprising of 1876 against the Turkish rulers when this Christian shrine was headed by father Hariton. There is a museum inside that Dryanovo Monastery. Among many objects of cultural and religious value several skulls are displayed from a battle site with obvious sights of saber and bullet wounds to the head.


Dryanovo Monastery was burned again. Most of the living quarters were completely destroyed by fire, but the main church was left relatively intact. After Bulgaria gained independence in 1878 the monastery again began to its life anew. Monks constructed new living quarters and later constructed a prominent bell tower in 1925. Today Dryanovo Monastery is open to the public and houses a hotel that accepts visitors. Additionally it has couple of restaurants on its grounds.




Ossuary of Dryanovo Monastery dedicated to Bulgarian freedom fighters. Bones of the killed rebels are buried inside.


Bacho Kiro Cave


Bacho Kiro Cave is situated 300 meters from Dryanovski Monastery. It is easy to spot from a road by a huge symbol of a yellow bat on a side of the canyon. The cave itself is a huge four story complex with overall length of 3600 meters (2 miles), however only first 700 meters (0.5 miles) are open to the public and has lighting. It is open between 8 am- 7 pm on summer and between 10 am- 4 pm in winter time. You can hire a guide to explore the Bacho Kiro cave or if you want to go further you will have to arrange this with the staff. Several bucks or as Bulgarians call it “buksheesh” (tip) usually changes the mood of the security and they will look more positively on unsupervised exploration of the cave.


Human presence on the Bacho Kiro site has been dated as early as Paleolithic age based on the human and animal bones, stone tools and other artefacts found on the site. Previous owner of the Bacho Kiro cave was probably huge cave bear those skeleton was found at the entrance of the cave. Judging by cuts on the bones his unwillingness to leave the site was cut short by human spears. Most of the artefacts discovered here are kept in the museum "Archaeology and Revival" in the nearby Dryanovo Monastery. Through most of known history the Bacho Kiro cave lay abandoned only to serve as a refuge for hayduce, Bulgarian partisans at the time of the Ottoman rule.









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