Rozhen Monastery "Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary"
The Rozhen Monastery "Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary" is a Bulgarian medieval monastery, near the village of Rozhen, in the municipality of Sandanski. It is the biggest monastery in the Pirin Mountains in southwestern Bulgaria. Due to its geographical location, the Rozhen monastery was a spiritual center and arena of intense cultural interactions between the Balkan Christian nations in the past. The serene and picturesque scenery, surrounding the holy place, greatly increases the visitor’s sense of spiritual elevation. Slavyanka Mountain extends to the southwest of the monastery, outlining the border between Bulgaria and Greece. The Melnik Sand pyramids, leading to the smallest town in Bulgaria- Melnik are nearby, as well. Behind them rise the magnificent massifs of the Pirin Mountain. Most likely, the monastery was founded in the 13th century, yet the first reliable information about the cloister dates back to 1551.
In the 16th century, the monastery experienced a period of revival/experienced an upswing/. The southern monastery wing and the main church were built; the temple and the dining room were decorated with murals. In the second half of the 17th century, the monastery was set ablaze and most buildings were severely damaged. Soon after, in the first half of the 18th century, with the financial support of wealthy Bulgarians from all over the country, the monastery was completely rebuilt. In the late 18th century, the monastery came under Greek influence and was converted into a convent of the Iviron Monastery at the monastic state of Mount Athos. Gaining its spiritual independence back, the monastery became part of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and joined the Nekropolski diocese. In the second half of the 19th century, the monastery provided refuge for revolutionaries from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO). Prominent revolutionary Yane Sandanski's grave is located 200m east of the cloister.
The monastery is part of the initiative “One hundred National tourist sites”.