Glozhene Monastery (Гложенски манастир)

Glozhene Monastery


Location: 11 km (7 mi) Northwest of Teteven Map

Tel. (01960) 388

Open: 6am- 9pm daily

Constructed: 13th century

Vasil Levsky

Vasil Levsky (1837- 1873)

Vasil Drumev

Vasil Drumev (1838- 1901)


Decription of Glozhene Monastery

Glozhene Monastery is a Bulgarian Orthodox religious complext located 11 km (7 mi) Northwest of Teteven. Despite its modest size it played an important role in the history of Bulgaria. Glozhene Monastery was named after its founder, Russian knyaz (Russian title equaling of the Western "duke") Georgi Glozh who managed to flee Kievan Rus after it was overrun by the Mongol hordes in 1239. Bulgarian king Ivan Asen II was generous enough to accept his fellow Orthodox ruler to his land and build a castle- like monastery here. He dedicated Glozhene Monastery to a Romanian martyr George the Victorious who was executed during Christian persecutions under Ancient Roman Emperor Deoclitian.
Among other things Russian knyaz brought an icon of the saint that he gave to the monks that soon moved to Glozhene Monastery. During struggle for independence from the Turkish rule the monastery hid several revolutionaries including Vasil Levsky. It also became famous as a prison for Vasil Drumev who was sent here by king Ferdinand in 1893. Monks eased the sufferings of the political prisoner by bringing food despite official prohibition to do so.
The main church of the Glozhene Monastery was destroyed by the earthquake of 1913 and rebuilt here in 1951.


Glozhene monastery is located near the village of Glozhene, Teteven municipality, Lovech district, 12 km from the town of Teteven. It is located on the northeastern slope below the stone plummets of Kamen Lisets peak (1073 m), on a rocky outcrop on a mountain hill, descending from it. The access to the entrance of the monastery was blocked by rocks, which were broken in order to make a road later, and deep ravines descended from its other sides. Thus, it can be seen from afar as perched on a rock, which distinguishes it from other Bulgarian monasteries, usually built in closed, secret places. The view in all directions is remarkable.

According to unproven data, Glozhene monastery was founded in the early thirteenth century. The frescoes of the old church, according to Nikola Mihailov, sent to study them in 1905 by the Ministry of Public Education, are from the era of the Boyana Church (the period of the Boyana Master). Legend has it that the monastery was built by the Kiev prince George Glozh, who came to Bulgaria, persecuted by the Tatars, and Tsar Ivan Asen II offered him land here. According to another version of the legend, the prince and his retinue helped Ivan Assen II to overthrow Boril, who ascended the throne, and received this land as a token of gratitude. On it, on the present place, in 1223 he founded a settlement and it was called Glozhene. High on a rock he built a monastery, resembling an impregnable medieval castle fortress - Glozhene Monastery. According to legend, the prince began to build the monastery below in the lowlands, but the icon of St. George, which they carried from their homeland, disappeared and appeared above the rocks; they took this as a sign and built it there. Another settlement, on the western side of Kamen Lisets Peak - Kievski Izvor, according to legend, belonged to the Russian masters who built the monastery. It is a historical fact that Ivan Assen II regained his father's throne after about 10 years of exile, mainly in the Russian lands, leaving Kiev in 1217, with the help of Russian (Kiev) troops, and that they at least partially remained in Bulgaria. It is also possible that the land was part of the personal possessions of one of the royal family Assenevtsi and the names in the area are related to the donations that Ivan Assen II made to the Glozhene Monastery. In all cases, the toponymy of the region is associated with the times of Asenevtsi: the forest Azanitsa (Asenitsa) near Glozhene, the neighborhood Asen (Asen), near the ancient fountain Tsarichin (royal). And the settlement of Kievski Izvor has existed for many centuries, there was even a province of Kiev; In Kardzhali time, some of its inhabitants dispersed and founded two other villages - Golyam Izvor and Malak Izvor, and began to call their old place Staro Selo.

Under Ottoman rule
There is not much information about the history of the monastery during the Ottoman invasion and after the fall of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The building and the church were not destroyed, not even the tower. It is assumed that due to its inaccessible location, on the one hand, and on the other hand, due to the lack of strategic importance, no difficult siege and demolition was undertaken. An ancient manuscript states that the monastery property was confiscated and the monastery fell into great misery. It is assumed that only a few monks remained, subsisting on alms, to maintain it, in the XVI and XVII centuries.

Then comes the rise. Through the donations the monastery regained land, the monks increased and the monastery became a spiritual center for the surrounding kaazi - Zlatitsa, Lovchanska and even Pleven, an attractive center for worshipers dissatisfied with the Greek clergy and wishing to speak in Bulgarian. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century the monastery had wide connections all over Bulgaria and even in Romania and Russia, as can be seen from its kondiki. Two old seals from those times have been preserved, in which it is called the Kiev Monastery. He is known to have owned many manuscripts and old printed books.


The monastery opened a number of cell schools. It is believed that the school in the monastery itself has existed since its founding and has continued to train novices for monks, priests and teachers with short breaks until the Liberation; teachers were the monks themselves, they used church books for textbooks. In the nearby village of Malak Izvor he found a convent with a cell school. In Lovech, the Glozhene Monastery also opened its own convent, and to it - the first cell school in the city (in the plague of 1828 it already existed), which then turned into a mutual and mixed school. He hired the best teachers in this area for him: teacher Pavlin (Serbian), Hristo P. Popovich, teacher Kosta, teacher Ruscho, priest Lukan, Parashkeva Neykova, who taught boys and girls, and then only girls, and others. The Troyan and Rila monasteries also opened metos in Lovech, but without schools, with only one confessor.

The Glozhene Monastery also sent three of its novices to study in Russia - Lilo Kanchev from the village of Glozhene (later Metropolitan Antim Tarnovski), Dimitar Sekov from the village of Malak Izvor, hieromonk Dionysius Simeonov, who taught for 14 years in the villages of Malak and Golyam Izvor. 1894 abbot of the monastery) and Miho Dinov from Glozhene (with the monastic name Evtimiy, teacher in Braila and elsewhere, deacon of Exarch Joseph, priest, abbot of "St. Elijah" in Teteven and the Glozhene monastery 1911 - 1914 .).

The monastery found the funds for this activity from donations from all over the country (during the time of the abbot healer Hadji Evtimiy even a Turk made a large donation), good management of the vast lands, forests, mills, etc. and the strong support of the local population. When in 1856 or 1857 a fire destroyed a large part of the cells, the monastery incurred a debt, which was quickly repaid through the voluntary, willingly given aid by the population of the Lovchanska and Zlatitsa kaaza. Several monuments with the names of donor worshipers from the 18th - 19th centuries have been preserved from older times. In them are found names from villages from Teteven and Lukovit, which today are Pomak.

The bishops and monks of the Glozhene Monastery are supporters of an independent Bulgarian church. Abbot Ioannicius (c. 1840 - 1864) did not allow any interference of the Greeks in the monastic affairs and gave a lot of money for the monastic schools, where anti-Greek sentiments were created. The next abbot, Hadji Evtimii, acted directly as a representative of the Bulgarian Exarchate even before its recognition.

During the national liberation struggles the monastery was one of the safest bases of Vasil Levski. Hadji Evtimiy, his close friend, had extensive connections around the area and his information about reliable people helped to establish village committees. The abbot himself and the monk, priest Kiril, are members of the Glozhene private revolutionary committee, as well as priest Mihail Stefanov and priest Nikola Tsakov. The first revolutionary district was created in this region. The hiding place of Vasil Levski is preserved - under his cell there was an underground tunnel, dug during the construction of the monastery. Levski's visits were kept in the deepest secrecy (including because of the Greek monk Hilarion and the monastery servants), Dimitar Obshti was not ordained and therefore his betrayal did not directly affect the monastery.

After the Liberation
After the Liberation, Vasil Drumev (Metropolitan Kliment Tarnovski) was exiled here. On February 14, 1893, he delivered a sermon against Catholicism, defending Orthodoxy. This reached the Roman Catholic Prince Ferdinand through the Prime Minister Stefan Stambolov, the Metropolitan was sentenced to eternal exile and sent to the Glozhene Monastery. After the fall of Stambolov's government, he returned to Tarnovo. Now the monastery has a small museum for him.


In 1904 an earthquake caused serious damage. In 1908, Abbot Dionysius managed to restore the cells, built a stone tunnel in front of the church (until then it was wooden). In 1913, in a new earthquake, debris fell from the rock on which the north wall of the church rests, as a result of which in 1915 it and the south wall partially collapsed. There is a decline, many monastic properties are sold, and the money goes to the Holy Synod. For 15 years - from the spring of 1915 to the autumn of 1929 - no one, neither the Archaeological Museum nor the Church Museum, removed the valuable frescoes of the ancient temple. In 1929 everything was demolished and the place cleared for the construction of a new church. It was built two meters further south, lit in 1931. The monastery tower, which withstood the earthquakes, was also destroyed in order to expand the monastery yard.

During the clearing, a tomb carved into the rock was found inside the church itself, under its floor at the foundations of the north wall. A skeleton of a very tall and large man was found in a coffin made of solid oak planks. The silver buttons on the outer garment are gilded. No other tomb was found in or around the church and no one knew anything before it was discovered. Since it is from the time when the church was built, it is assumed that either its founder, Prince Glozh, or another prominent person was buried there.

After 1989, the monastery sued for the return of its property. On August 3, 2008, the abbot, hieromonk Pankratiy, started a fire in the monastery and was detained by officers of the Teteven Regional Police Department. He was deposed from church rank and brought to justice.

Architecture, frescoes, iconostasis
The old church and the tower
The old church was built on the high front rock part of the mountain massif, and the northern and eastern foundations were caught in the vertical rock. On them was then built the fence of the new church of travertine stone, taken from the destroyed church and tower. It was small, single-nave and single-apse, vaulted, 5.10 long and 4.30 wide, with a window on the south side and two small niches. Its construction is made of crushed stone mixed with lime and sand, larger pieces of red stone and cut travertine blocks. The vaulted part is made of bricks. According to archaeologists and engineer Yanakiev, who studied the building before its demolition, it was built 700 years ago.

To the west, as a continuation of the same church, a porch (6 x 3.70 m) was later built (according to legend two centuries later), with a south window. It was built without quarry stone, with larger blocks of red stone mixed with travertine blocks, as a result of which it was very strong. The cylindrical vault is made of cut travertine stone, not bricks. The vault of both rooms is 2.75 m from the floor.

The walls of both compartments were 90 cm thick. The church itself was covered with massive sandstones, which withstood strong winds and torrential rains.

The irregular shape of the two buildings is due to the insufficient space and the need to adapt the plan to it, which has changed the eastern direction of the church.

The whole church, with the narthex and the vault, was painted. The temple itself (without the narthex), as evidenced by the plaster and frescoes, is of very old origin. Nikola Mihailov, who visited the monastery in 1905, sent by the Ministry of Public Education, found that the painting was the same as that of the Boyana Church and was made during the same era. The apse was later repainted, but not the other walls. Petar Mutafchiev visited the monastery in 1913 and also noted the different origins of the painting - in the apse itself, where the layer of frescoes was torn off, an older layer can be seen, identical to the one on the other walls; the newer layer in the apse in terms of execution, pattern and color is worse than the old one. According to him, "drawings, proportions, tones and style" speak in favor of an older than XV - XVI century origin.

After a 1913 earthquake destabilized part of the rock base beneath the church, large parts of its north and south walls collapsed in 1915, the frescoes on the walls were exposed to the weather for 15 years. However, they not only do not fade, but become more and more beautiful and clear, without the slightest damage to the tone and color of the colors; apparently the paints of the old masters were made of a special substance.


Of the oldest iconostasis of the church, only the royal doors and a huge cross from the temple with the crucifix have been preserved. The next iconostasis of the old church, with bronze carvings, is probably from the beginning of the XVII century. The middle and upper part of it, with few exceptions, are preserved and adapted in the new church, together with the royal doors and the crucifix.

The tower of the monastery was 1.50 m thick and 4.50 - 5 meters high. It was located 7-8 m west of the old church, in the southwestern part of the upper monastery yard. The construction and the material, identical with the oldest part of the church, are considered to be from the same time. It was an irregular quadrangular building with a massive door on the east, clad in iron and wrought nails. There was a loophole at the top of the east wall. Inside the vault was cylindrical, made of travertine stone. The tower was divided into two floors, and the upper one (with a wooden floor) was reached by a wooden staircase.

The new church
It is built on a solid reinforced concrete foundation, made of stone and bricks. A stone staircase leads to a wide platform with a balustrade of travertine, which covers the church on three sides and from which beautiful views are revealed. The church is single-nave, with a small porch, on one side of which is the staircase to the bell tower - the pointed tower on the facade of the church. The length of the church is 11 m, the width is 6 m, the height - a total of 11 m, that of the tower reaches 15 m.

Part of the iconostasis and some of the icons are from the old church, and others from modern times. In a small iconostasis on the left is the icon of St. George the Victorious, made of boxwood. Only the head is visible from it, the rest is in silver casing from the XVIII century, made with donations from Teteven. According to legend, it was brought by Prince Glozh in the 13th century; the theologian P. Stefanov suggests that it is from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, from the first half of the XVIII century.