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Aladzha Monastery (Аладжа
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 at Aladzha Monastery
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.