The Forgotten Monastery
The "St. Petka" Monastery, near the village of Muldava
Off the main road, majestic but abandoned, the"St. Petka" Monastery (a.k.a. Saint Paraskeva of the Balkans, St. Petka of Bulgaria; St. Paraskevi of
Epivates) virtually carries us beyond time and space.
The monastery is a few kilometers southwest of Asenovgrad town, on the way to the town of Kardzhali, at the foot of the Rodhope Mountains. The turn off leading to the cloister ends approx. 2 km. from the monastery. You could park your car there and continue on foot. It’s a dirt road, but truly pleasing to the eye, especially in May when the whole forest is adorned with lilacs, their scent rousing and intoxicating. Since there are no signs, many visitors simply give up in the middle of the road and never reach the monastery.
After a relatively steep climb and a sharp turn, the stunning view to the monastery finally reveals. St. Petka’s courtyard is surrounded by majestic walls, ruined by a raging fire several years ago. The face of Deacon Vasil Levski solemnly welcomes us at the entrance of the "St. Petka" monastery. Later on we'll learn that during his pilgrimages for freedom, he used to hide in a special compartment in the monastery and we could even take a peek at the Apostle’s hideout.
The tranquility that dominates the courtyard is the antithesis of the sense of drama caused by the ruins of the walls and the belfry, nearly ruined by recent floods. The glory of nature and the traces all over the stone buildings left by the elements, make all visitors bow their heads and actually reflect on the transience of human vanity and aspirations. The monastery’s sole occupant is Sister Julita, who would tell you not only about the history of the monastery, the hurdles and hassles suffered over the centuries, but also about the foundations of Christianity, the importance and purifying power of humility.