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Rozhen Monastery

Rozhen Monastery




Location: Rozhen, 7 km (4 mi) Northeast of Melnik Map

Established: 13th century

Tel. (07437) 222

Open: 7am- 9pm daily

Service: 8am daily




History of Rozhen Monastery

Rozhen Monastery does not have road for transport, thus you can either hike from Melnik for 3.1 kilometres (two miles) or take a bus to village of Rozhen and walk 800 meters up the mountain to get to the monastery. It is open between 7am - 9pm. It is one of the most beautiful and quiet monasteries in Bulgaria. Few tourists make it here and surrounding picturesque mountains make Rozhen Monastery particularly nice destination. Rozhen Monastery and village below got its name from Bulgarian word for “birth” referring to the main church of Holy Birth of Jesus Christ in the centre of the structure. It is the biggest monastery in the Pirin Mountains and one of the few medieval religious complex that came to our day without significant alterations.


According to sources on Mount Athos in Greece the monastery was found in 890 AD. The monks who found the monastery probably used ancient Roman road to get here. It is still visible today just above the monastery. During rule of czar Kaloyan (1197- 1207) local governor (despot) Alexius Slav built several new buildings on the territory of the Rozhen Monastery. This includes the central gate that date back to early 13th century. The overall layout of the Rozhen Monastery clearly indicated that it was build to both house the monks as well as defend them against possible intrusions. While inner courtyard has balconies, large windows, wines and etc, the outer wall of the complex is another story. It is build to keep people out. Artisans left very few small windows that were not accessible easily from the ground. Additionally several slits in the walls clearly indicate that these could be used to fire arrows at anyone who tried to capture it.

The monastery church dedicated to Holy Birth of Virgin Mary was erected in the 14th century and its frescoes date back to the late 16th century. Amazingly they survived all turmoil including invasion of the Turkish Muslims who usually erased depictions of animals and humans from walls.


In 17th century Rozhen Monastery was devastated by fire and reconstruction began in 1715 which finished in 1732. It reached its apogee in the 19th century buying a lot of land in the regions that was very cheap and mostly uninhabited. Bulgarian revolutionary Yane Sandanski is buried near the monastery.



Accommodation, Food and Transport

There are no accommodations or restaurants in the Rozhen Monastery itself. However there is a guesthouse and a restaurant about half a mile away from the abbey. Additionally Melnik near by is a fairly large Bulgarian town with hotels, restaurants and etc. Unfortunately there is no reliable transport from Melnik to Rozhen so you need to make these arrangements before coming here.
















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