Bachkovo Monastery "Assumption of the Virgin"
The Bachkovo Monastery "Assumption of the Virgin" is located at the foothills of the Rhodope Mountains, in the valley of Chaya River, about 10 km south of Asenovgrad. The magic of the place, and the compelling story of the monastery make it one of the most visited and revered religious places in Bulgaria.
Founded in 1083 by the Georgians Gregory Bakuriani and his brother Abazii, originally the cloister was center of Georgian monasticism. The monastery invariably enjoyed a number of privileges and relative independence. A literary school was established there at the end of the 11th century and the translation works of scholars attained the spiritual and cultural connection between medieval Byzantium and Georgia. There are two important buildings from the period - the ossuary and "St. Archangels" church.
In 1344, the area "Stanimaka" (modern-day Asenovgrad) was ceded by the Byzantine empress to Tsar Ivan Alexander, in exchange for his help against the usurper John Cantacuzino. For about two decades the monastery thrived under the patronage of the Bulgarian king and the ruler’s portrait in the ossuary testifies to that. After the fall of Tarnovo in 1393, Patriarch Evtimii was banished to "Stenimah" - it is considered that it refers precisely to the monastery. The Patriarch continued his literary activity in the monastery. In 1467 Ecumenical Patriarch Simeon retreated into exile here, as well. Regardless of the destructions, the monastery continued to exist in the period of Ottoman rule and in the 17th century the church "Assumption of the Virgin" and the Dining room were built.
Aside from the main church "Assumption of the Virgin", the monastery complex includes the smaller temples of "St. Archangels" and "St. Nicolas” and the cell church "All Saints” as well. The majority of frescoes in the churches "St. Nicolas "and "St. Archangels " are Zachary Zograf’s works – renowned Bulgarian painter from the Samokov Art School. Influential Bulgarian clergymen were buried at the monastery - Exarch Stefan, the first Head of the restored Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Cyril, the first Bulgarian patriarch after Evtimii.
The Bachkovo monastery has its own museum with a rich and interesting exhibition. The monastery is part of the “One hundred national tourist sites”.