Location: Varna Province Map
Established: 12th century
Entrance Fee: 5 lv
Open: 9am- 6pm Apr- Oct
9am- 4pm Tue- Sat Nov- March
Tel. +359 52355 460
Aladzha Monastery is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Monastery carved
in the cliff side. It is situated 17 km North of Varna and about 3
km West of Golden Sands on the shores of the Black Sea. You can
either take a car here or simply take a fairly simple 1 hour walk
through beautiful nature reserve of Golden Sands Nature park that
eventually leads you to Christian Aladzha Monastery. Aladzha
Monastery was found around 12th century (Second Bulgarian Kingdom)
by the Bulgarian monks who looked for solitude in these lands. They
dedicated their monastery to the Holy Trinity. Apparently it is not
the first time Christian community was established here.
Archaeologists discovered another cave near Aladzha Monastery with
signs of presence of monks dating back to the 5th century. This
monastery however grew to a considerable size. Near by workers came
and helped monks to dig new cells, paint murals and construct
intricate mosaics. Unfortunately little remains from the interior
decorations of the original cells, chapels and church. Ottoman Turks
swiped through a region and destroyed much of the convent's
interior. Ironically the name Aladzha comes from a Turkish word that
can be translated as "colorful" as a reference to the interior of
the Aladzha Convent.
Aladzha Monastery was briefly abandoned after Turkish invasion, but its was reborn again shortly thereafter. Community existed at least until 18th century.
Catacombs complex is located about 800 meters North West of Aladzha Monastery. It consists of three levels of caves. The second level is best preserved one. These rooms were used to bury monks from the Aladzha Monastery. You can see Greek letters Alpha (Α) and Omega (Ω) carved on the walls of some of the rooms as a reference to New Testament words "I am alpha and omega, beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:13). First floor of the Aladzha Catacombs was inhabited by the monks. Archeological digs recovered Byzantine coins from the fifth century dating back to Justinian I the Great. Furthermore remains of an early Christian basilica were discovered nearby. These catacombs might have been one of the first centers of Christian missionary mission mentioned in the chronicles of Constantine Porphyrogenitus.
The old Christian name of the monastery is unknown. According to a legend recorded by Karel Shkorpil, the patron saint of the monastery is "Holy Savior" - from "Christ the Savior".
Since 1960, Bulgarian Christians have called it the Holy Trinity.
The name "alaca" (from Turkish: alaca) is of Persian or Arabic origin and means "colorful".
Discovered in 1997, the species "Nelima aladjensis" of the class Arachnida, order Haybeans (Opiliones), family Phalangiidae is named after the monastery.
Remains of a three-nave church from the 5th-6th century have been found near the medieval monastery.
The monastery was established in the XII - XIII century, but was abandoned at the end of the XV and the beginning of the XVI century.
The name of the monastery was first mentioned in the book "Letters from Bulgaria" (1832) by the Russian writer Viktor Teplyakov.
The first systematic research was conducted at the end of the 19th century by the brothers Herman and Karel Škorpil.
In 1912 it was declared a "folk antiquity", and in 1957 - a "cultural monument of national importance".
From 1966 to 1989 it was on the list of the 100 national tourist sites.