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


The Rozhen Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a medieval monastery, the largest in Pirin Macedonia, Bulgaria. In the past the monastery was stauropegial, and today it is subordinated to the Nevrokop diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery was declared in 1973 a cultural monument of national importance.

The monastery is located on the southwestern slopes of Pirin, a few kilometers northeast of Melnik. The monastery gave its name to the neighboring village of Rozhen.


History of Rozhen Monastery

The early history of the monastery is not clear. A large fire at the end of the 17th century damaged the monastery buildings and probably destroyed the monastery archives. During excavations in the monastery yard were found jewelry and coins by the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus (1259 - 1282). Indirect data about the existence of the monastery in the ΧΙΙΙ century are found in a note in a Greek manuscript. According to Ventsislav Karavalchev, the founder of the monastery was Callist Angelicud. The earliest reliable information about the existence of the monastery is a note in a manuscript from the library of the Great Lavra, which says that the manuscript was copied in 1551 by Hieromonk Cosmas, abbot of the monastery of the Blessed Virgin Rosinotis.

In the 16th century the Rozhen monastery experienced a rise. Towards the middle of the century the present southern monastery wing and the main church were built. At the end of the century the church and the dining room were decorated with frescoes. At the beginning of the next XVII century the southern facade of the main church was painted, and in 1662 it was decorated with frescoes and the newly built monastery ossuary "St. John the Baptist". After a fire in the second half of the 17th century, the monastery fell into a difficult situation.

The monastery was rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century with the financial help of rich Bulgarians from all over the country. Reconstruction began in 1715, and the church was fully completed in 1732.

In 1761, under the pretext that there were financial difficulties, the Rozhen Monastery lost its independence and became a convent of the Iversky Monastery in Mount Athos. Iberian monks were appointed abbots. At the beginning of the 19th century the construction in the monastery continued. At the same time, it is a regional spiritual center and owns many lands in the vicinity. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the monastery fell into disrepair again.

In 1891 Georgi Strezov wrote about the monastery:
"Above the village is the eponymous monastery" Rozhna ", distorted by the" Nativity of the Virgin ". An old building, above the village. This monastery depends on the Iberian monastery on Mount Athos. [...] It is believed that the icon, an old image, on the eve of the holiday itself moves from its place wanting to come out. Then the monks grabbed her and took her outside in front of the church door. Everyone present passes under the health icon. At this time they are trembling, fighting over who should go first. 20 monks live in the monastery; they read Greek. "

After 1912, a dispute arose between Bulgaria and Greece over the ownership of the Rozhen Monastery. The dispute was finally resolved in 1921 by the Arbitration Court in The Hague in favor of Bulgaria.

At the end of the 60s of the XX century restoration and conservation works on the frescoes, icons and wood carvings began, and they were completed in the early 90s of the XX century by a restoration team led by Lozinka Koinova-Arnaudova and Alexander Penev. In 1981 a team led by Hristina Staneva completed architectural and construction conservation and restoration of the monastery.

Birth of the bridegroom
The catholicon, restored in 1715, was painted in 1727 by Theocharis and Nikolaos - the two painters painted the scene of the Assumption of the Virgin with a portrait of the patron on the east wall of the porch, leaving the signature " Nicholas. In 1732 the painter Alexios from Ioannina painted the iconostasis icons and frescoes in the church.

Holy Mother of God Gatekeeper
While the Rozhen Monastery is subordinated to the Athos Monastery of Iviron, following a church tradition, it receives a copy of the miraculous icon kept in the monastery "mother" - in this case it is the icon of St. Our Lady of Portaitis or in Bulgarian - Gatekeeper. The original icon guarded the gates of Iviron and hence the epithet Portaitis. The copy was created in 1790 by the monk painter Jacob Iversky, by order of the leather guild in Melnik. Unlike the other copies of the icon, this one, donated to the Rozhen Monastery, is made of sacred iron and is surrounded by ten small compositions depicting its healing miracles. It is signed by the author: ΝΚΑΝΚΑΤΗ ΤΑΜΠΑΚΗ Κ (ΑΙ) ΚΩΝCΤΑ (ΝΤΙΝΟY) ΛΤΖΟΥΝΗΑΛΤΖΟΥΝΗ ΕΙC ΨΥΧΙΚ / ΗC ΤΩΝ CΩΤΗ / ΡΙΑC / ΔIΑ ΧΕΙΡΟC ΙΑΚΩΒΟΥ ΙΒΗΡΙΤΟΥ “.


The icon is considered miraculous. Every year on September 7, worshipers from all over the country and abroad bring their gifts to the icon and spend the night in the temple for health. On September 8 - the Little Mother of God, a temple holiday of the monastery, a liturgical procession with the miraculous icon, blessing of the monastery sacrifice and its distribution for health is performed.

St. John the Baptist
Nativity of St. John the Baptist is an Orthodox church in Bulgaria, a cemetery church-ossuary of the Rozhen Monastery, subordinate to the Diocese of Nevrokop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The ossuary was built in 1597 50 m north of the monastery walls. The church has a nave and a pronaos, from which one enters the crypt-ossuary, where the bones of the deceased monks are collected. According to the preserved donor inscription, in 1662 the church was decorated with frescoes by the abbot Theodosius and Metropolitan Sylvester of Melnik.


The frescoes are in two rows, with full-length saints in the lower zone and 12 scenes from the life of John the Baptist in the upper zone - this cycle is among the earliest and most complete in the Balkans. The iconographic scheme of the frescoes is canonical and characteristic of the epoch. The iconostasis icons are probably the work of the painter who painted the murals. An icon in the church “St. St. Peter and Paul ”in Melnik.

St. Cyril and Methodius
St. Cyril and Methodius is an Orthodox church in Bulgaria, part of the Rozhen Monastery complex, subordinate to the Nevrokop Diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The church was built in 1912-1914, 200 m northwest of the monastery, to serve the Bulgarian exarchists, who were not allowed in the Rozhen Monastery controlled by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The initiator of the construction is the voivode of VMORO Yane Sandanski. Above the south door there is a marble plaque with the inscription: “This church was built in honor and memory of St. Cyril and Methodius on the initiative and assistance of the citizen Yani Sandanski. Started in May 1912 and completed in October 1914. Ivan Konstantinov, an icon painter from Petrich, took part in the construction and painting of the church. The church houses icons from 1858, the work of icon painter Jacob Nicolau from Melnik. About 5 m behind the altar apse in 1915 murdered Yane Sandanski was buried.


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.