Zemen Monastery "St. John the Evangelist"
Georgi Jordanov

Zemen Monastery "St. John the Evangelist"


The Zemen Monastery is situated along  the Struma River, among the beautiful landscapes of Konyavska Mountain, less than two km. away from the town of Zemen. The cloister takes great pride in the monastery church – it is one of the few surviving monuments of Bulgarian medieval art, architecture and fresco painting. It is believed that it was built around the 11th century as the first frescoes date back to that period as well. One of the images – that of St. Anna is still preserved. The later frescoes - from the 14th c., are quite remarkable too with their unconventional style. The floor’s design is extraordinary – the colorful different sized and shaped marble and stone pieces attract every visitor’s attention. Some say that each separate piece has been brought by a local resident with the idea of leaving his personal mark on the church.


The "St. John the Evangelist” complex consists of a church with a steeple and two interconnected buildings.  Ever since it was founded during the First Bulgarian Empire, the Monastery has repeatedly fallen victim to devastation and violence but has recovered in spite of that. The cloister has experienced periods of prosperity and glory – it has been a religious, cultural and revolutionary center for decades.  At present,  "St. John the Evangelist” is no longer a monastery, but a museum because of the valuable frescoes. Zemen Monastery was proclaimed a monument of culture.


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