Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I travelled by train from Sofia to Plovdiv, later by bus to Asenovgrad and finally to Bachkovo Monastery. Then I walked about 300 meters up, across many cafeterias and stalls selling souvenirs, honey, yogurts and earthenware. Then I entered the Monastery through its gate. It looked like a fortress.
The signs in the monastery were in Bulgarian and English. I read in a plaque behind the gate (written in Bulgarian, Russian, German, French and English languages) that the monastery was founded in the year 1083 by two brothers from present Georgia and it served as a seminary to practice Georgian mysticism. It was destroyed by the Turks in the XV century and was restored in the XVII century.
The place was very touristic. I heard not only Bulgarian, but other European languages, even Spanish, among its daily visitors.
The first thing that I did was to ask for the monk in charge of the visitors and asked him in Russian language permission to spend the night there. He sent me to the first floor, where a man charged me 5 Leva (about 2.5 euro) per a single room with a bed and a lamp with the window facing the Cathedral. The bathrooms were in the corridor.
Bachkovo is considered the second most important monastery in Bulgaria (after Rila). It is registered in the UNESCO Tentative List.
The monastery mixes Bulgarian, Georgian and Byzantine cultures. Apart from its lovely architecture I liked the murals all over around, being the most famous the one called Panorama, over a wall in the patio, depicting the history of the monastery. Some of the icons sheltered were of special value and many pilgrims came to Bachkovo just to pay respect to them, especially to one considered miraculous, called Virgin Mary Eleusa, brought by Georgian travelers in the XIV century. I admired all the wonders of the monastery in an almost state of ecstasy, so beautiful was everything around, including the atmosphere of the place and the exuberant nature surrounding the monastery.
In the old Trapeza (refectory) I had to pay a ticket (about 4 euro). But it was worth. I could see inside some of the prettiest frescoes.
I assisted to the Mass Service, together with many pilgrims, and also in the morning, when I woke up by the bells, and descended to the Cathedral to participate in the Mass ceremony at 7 AM.
After the Mass service I had breakfast in one of the cafeterias outside and returned by bus to Asenovgrad to continue my journey. It had been an unforgettable day.
Date posted: August 2014
Have you been to The Bachkovo Monastery? Share your experiences!