Dryanovo Monastery/ Bacho Kiro Cave

Dryanovo Monastery




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


Dryanovo Monastery (Дряновски манастир)

Dryanovo Monastery is functional Orthodox monastery located in northern Bulgaria, 5 km southwest of the town of Dryanovo and 15 km from the town of Gabrovo. An asphalt road leads to it. It is served by the Bacho Kiro railway station, which until October 20, 1949 was called St. Archangel, on the railway line Ruse-Momchilgrad.


History of Dryanovo Monastery

Dryanovo monastery gorge has an ancient history. The first people settled it in the early prehistoric epochs. They inhabit the caves of the Boruna massif and the cavities in the rock crown Polichkite. The oldest is the settlement of the primitive man in the Bacho Kiro cave, which dates from the middle and late period of the Stone Age (100,000 - 10,000 BC). Archaeologists have studied a 5-meter cultural layer and discovered more than 6,000 finds. The cave is landscaped and suitable for visits by tourists.

Settlement and cultural traditions continue to develop in the Copper-Stone and Bronze Ages, when people built their homes in the stone openings and cavities of the Shelves. From the beginning of the Old Iron Age until Antiquity, the locals were Thracians who remained on the outskirts of the famous Thracian state unions and had a much poorer culture than their compatriots.

In the early Byzantine era, the strategic importance of the Fore-Balkans grew, the economic and cultural rise accelerated. At the canyons of the rivers, the Romans built fortresses in the areas of Boruna and Grada, because they appreciated the good opportunity to control the passes and roads in the Central Stara Planina. The Byzantines abandoned the fortresses in the 5th century, when the Fore-Balkans entered the territory of the Slavic tribes. They began to be used in the tenth century and entered the possessions of the most popular feudal lords in Northern Bulgaria - the future rulers Assenevtsi.

The Boruna and Gradat fortresses are key units and the last barrier for the defense of the Bulgarian capital Tarnovgrad.

The medieval monastery "St. Archangel Michael” was founded during the reign of Tsar Kaloyan, after the relics of St. Michael the Warrior were transferred from Potuka (an unknown settlement in Thrace) to Tarnovgrad around 1206. The procession spent the night near the Dryanovska River below the town and according to Christian canons monastery. Over the centuries, the Dryanovo Monastery has been a center of Bulgarian education and culture.

Today it was restored in 1845. Like other monasteries, it was the guardian of the Bulgarian spirit during the five centuries of Ottoman rule. Vasil Ivanov Kunchev - Levski, Father Matei Preobrazhenski - Mitkaloto and other revolutionaries found refuge in it. A revolutionary committee was set up in the monastery.

The monastery played a major role in the preparation of the April Uprising in the First Tarnovo District, where stocks of food and weapons were accumulated. On April 29, 1876, the detachment of priest Hariton entered the Dryanovo monastery - the first rebel detachment in Tarnovo district and Bulgaria. Surrounded by the Turks, they fought a 9-day battle and most died for the freedom of Bulgaria. The destroyed and burned monastery was partially restored and on April 3, 1877 its main church was solemnly consecrated. Abbot Pahomiy Stoyanov celebrated the first memorial service for the perished rebels. The temple is without frescoes, with a chalice pierced by a Turkish bullet and holes from the Turkish shrapnel in the walls, deliberately left by the builders, so as not to forget the past and the Bulgarian suffering. Grateful descendants erected a monument to the ossuary in 1897 of the fallen rebels. The ossuary was designed by the Italian Giovanni Mosuti. The project was completed in 1890 and the statue was made in Rome by Luca Arditi. In 1946, the Gabrovo industrialist, public figure, donor and German vice-consul Kolyo Karagiozov made a donation of BGN 50,000 to the treasury of the monastery for the construction of a new iconostasis in the church.

The modern monastery is among the 10 most revered shrines of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, a national historical monument and a favorite tourist site.


Bacho Kiro Cave

Bacho Kiro is a cave in the Fore-Balkans on the territory of Dryanovo municipality. The cave is located 300 m west of the Dryanovo Monastery, a short distance from the water cave Andaka, in a vertical limestone rock at 335 m above sea level. The natural landmark Bacho Kiro has been declared for its protection. In 1940 the cave was named in honor of the hero of the April Uprising - Bacho Kiro.

Detection and research
The best studied by archaeologists is the first hall of the cave - "Lobby". Tools and traces of intensive human habitation have been found in it, dating from the Middle (70,000 - 50,000 BC) and Late (45,000 to 20,000 BC) Paleolithic. Findings published in 2020 provide the earliest evidence of the presence of Homo sapiens in Europe, when it was still inhabited by Neanderthals.

It has a variety of secondary karst formations - stalagmites, stalactites, stalactons, draperies.

The temperature inside the cave is constant - 13 ° C, humidity is 95%. The cave is formed by the waters of the river Andaka. Traces of human culture and bones of domestic and wild animals have been found. A 3 m high bear skeleton was also found.

Interesting are the karst formations in the cave, resembling fish, snakes, people, the Virgin and Child, a bear and many others. One of the tourist attractions is the "Purgatory" - a low, difficult corridor measuring 60 x 40 cm, which is said to be crossed only by a righteous person.

Bats in the cave
Through direct observations and catches with nets in the cave were registered 4 species of bats:

Great horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)
Small horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
Southern horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale)
Myotis nattereri
Bacho Kiro Cave is a winter bat shelter, and from December to the end of March an average of up to 100 large and small horseshoe bats have been found.

Bacho Kiro Cave is among the Hundred National Tourist Sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union under number 22.
It is the first landscaped cave in Bulgaria - by Dryanovo tourists in 1937, and is one of the main tourist attractions in the region.
In 1962 it was declared a natural landmark.

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.