Bulgaria is an Orthodoxy country with large religious heritage

Short introduction

Religion in Bulgaria has been dominated by Christianity since its adoption as the state religion in 865. During the Ottoman rule of the Balkans, Sunni Islam spread in the territories of Bulgaria, and it remains a significant minority today. 

We’ve listed 9 different monasteries around the country, but there are a couple more religious places like: Krastova Gora and the church of Shipka that are not included in the selection below. Also, the Monastery of Dragalevski (Female Monastery), which is just 5km away from Sofia is a great choice to see a Bulgarian monastery. Some of the monasteries offer accommodation and the entrance is free of charge.

Let's start with some of the most popular

Let's start with some of the most popular

Let's start with some of the most popular

Monastery of Rila

The Rila Monastery is located in the southwest of Bulgaria, in the Rila Mountains, and is one of the most important cultural monuments of the country, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the largest monastery in Bulgaria: 5 floors, with 4 of them visible. The monastery museum is located in the underground floor. It is open for visits from 08:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day. It is forbidden to take pictures in the church and the monastery museum but it is allowed to take them in the courtyard. The entrance is worth 8 levs (4 euros). The monastery offers accommodation and food.

Dragalevski Monastery

The monastery of Dragalevtsi “Uspenie Bogorodichno” is a Bulgarian Orthodox female monastery. It is located 1.5 km from Sofia in the Vitosha Mountain and can be easily reached by car. It is closed every Monday and in the rest of the weekdays it is open from 08:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 01:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The entrance is free.  The monastery does not offer accommodation.

Cherepish Monastery

The Cherepish Monastery is a Bulgarian Orthodox monastery located near the village of Ljutibrod, 10km away from the town of Mezdra and 25 km to the south of Vratsa. It is a temple of the Christianity and the Bulgarian culture and has a long, dramatic and bloody history. Nestled at the foot of the Balkan Mountains close to the Iskar River, the monastery impresses with its beautiful church, the ancient frescoes in the main temple and the architecture of the other buildings. Another interesting thing is the icon of Virgin Mary made of roses. The monastery offers accommodation and food. It is open for visits every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and the entrance is free. Near the Cherepish Monastery is the natural phenomenon ¨The Rocks of Cherepish¨.

Monastery of Bachkovo

The Bachkovo Monastery is located near the village of Bachkovo, municipality of Asenovgrad, Plovdiv region. It is the second largest Bulgarian monastery after the Rila Monastery. The monastery is picturesquely surrounded by the hills of the Rhodopes Mountain, which, together with its impressive size and rich history, make it one of the most visited monasteries in Bulgaria. The monastery complex and the surroundings have become a developed tourist site with many shops, stalls and restaurants. Everything that grows or is produced in the Rhodopes is on sale: rare herbs, sweet and homegrown fruits, yogurt, goat and buffalo cheese, wool blankets, etc. It is open for visitors every day from 07:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and the entrance is free. It also offers accommodation.

Krustova Gora

Krustova Gora (The Forest of the Holy Cross) is a complex of monasteries in the central part of the Rhodope Mountain in Bulgaria, 60 km from Plovdiv. A large monastery was built on this summit where a fragment of the Lord’s Cross was kept and that is why today Krustova Gora is one of the largest Christian centers in Bulgaria and attracts a large number of pilgrims especially for the biggest religious festival of the monastery – the Day of the Holy Cross (14th of September). The monastery offers accommodation and the entrance to the complex is free

Glozhenski Monastery

The monastery church “Birth of Christ” is located in the city of Shipka, municipality of Kazanlak. It is considered an architectural masterpiece. It is declared a cultural monument of national importance. In the period May-October is open for visits from 08:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and in November-April from 08:30 a.m. to 04:30 p.m. Entrance is free. The monastery does not offer accommodation.

Sokolski Monastery

The Sokolski Monastery “Uspenie Bogorodichno” (also called Gabrovo Monastery) is an active monastery of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church located in northern Bulgaria, near Gabrovo and the Ethnographic Museum “Etar”. The monastery offers accommodation and nearby there is a restaurant with Bulgarian food. Admission is free and open for visits from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Basarbovski Monastery

The Basarbovo Monastery “St. Dimitar Basarbovski” is the only active monastery carved into the rock near the village of Basarbovo, 10 km from Rousse. The entrance to the monastery is worth 4 leva (2 euros) and is open for visits from 08:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m during the winter (October-March) and from 08:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m in the summer (April-September). The Basarbovo monastery does not offer accommodation.

Rozhen Monastery

The Monastery of Rozhen is one of the most interesting and important religious and cultural centers of Bulgaria. It is located 6 km east of the town of Melnik, in the Pirin Mountain. In this monastery is the icon of the Virgin Mary, which is said to be miraculous and cure diseases. Admission is free and is open every day from 08:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Rozhen Monastery does not offer accommodation and food but close by the road there is a motel and a restaurant. Only 5 km from the Rozhen Monastery is the Melnik Historical and Architectural Reserve, famous for the production of wine in this region. Near the monastery is located also the natural phenomenon Pyramids of Melnik.

Monastery of Troyan

This monastery is the third largest in Bulgaria and is located on the banks of the Cherni Osam River, in the village of Oreshak, 10 km from the city of Troyan, in the central part of the Balkan Mountain. Admission is 2 levs (1 euro) and is open for visits every day from 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The monastery offers accommodation. There are several good restaurants around to try the popular rakia (typical alcoholic beverage) of Troyan plums, prepared according to the ancient recipes of the monastery.

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