Religion and spirituality are a central part of life in Bulgaria. When the nation underwent 500 years of Ottoman domination, Christianity was the gluing element that kept the culture and the language alive in the society. Nowdays there are over 200 monasteries spread all over the country, which highlights the importance Christianity has always had in the nation. Part of this amazing cultural heritage is located in the mountains around Sofia. One can visit more than 40 monasteries near Sofia – only 40 km. away from the Bulgarian capital. The majority of them were established in the 13th century
The high concentration of monasteries and churches near the Bulgarian capital city is called the Sofia Sveta Gora (Holy Mountain) complex. Nobody knows the exact number of temples, chapels, churches, springs and consecrated places in the area. At the present time some of them have been restored while others have been forgotten. However, pilgrimage tours to these spiritual centers bring peace and joy to many believers. For others exploring these places is a good way to touch the depths of Bulgarian spiritual heritage and to learn more about the centuries-old history of Christianity in these lands.
I recomend you the following one-day trips to 5 beautiful monasteries near Sofia
Kremikovski Monastery “St. George the Victorious”
It is located at the foot of Stara Planina, at about half an hour drive from the center of Sofia. The monastery impresses visitors with its neat residential buildings, the two restored temples – the old and the new church, garden flowers and cleanliness. The legend has it that the monastery was built back in the 14th century by one of the last Bulgarian Tsars- Ivan Alexander.
There is also a zoo in the monastery’s yard where rabbits and peacocks are bred. There is also a shop where, along with the usual church items, products of the local farm are offered – honey, elderberry juice, homemade jam andsoap made of fragrant wax.
Giginski Monastery St. St. Cosmas and Damian
The Giginski Monastery is also known as Tsurnogorski Monastery. It is located 60 kilometers away from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.The monastery survived Ottoman invasions until the 18th century, when it was completely destroyed by the Turks, but was rebuilt a century later. Nowadays, the monastery welcomes hundreds of guests during the holidays. Food and accommodation are free, but if you decide to stay longer, you will have to work hard in the monastery’s farm.
Klisurski Monastery of St. Petka Paraskeva near the town of Bankya
If you drive for approximately 30 minutes from the center of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia you will find yourself at the gates of a beautiful architectural ensemble. In fact, painted with vivid images of saints and thought-provoking bible quotes, the monastery urges you to cross its threshold from afar. Klisurski Monastery of St. Petka Paraskevawas is one of the most picturesque monasteries near Sofia. It was founded back in the XIII century, when a procession with the relics of St. Petka took place nearby.
The Lozen Monastery of St. Spas
The monastery is believed to have been founded in the 13th century, as part of Sofia’s Little Mount Athos. In brief it was twice destroyed by the Ottomans to rise again and again like a phoenix from the ashes. Its current look dates back to the end of the XIX century. Unique frescoes of saints and historical figures have been preserved from that period. Visitors can enjoy from the monastery’s yard a boundless view of the Sofia Plain and the capital city covered in smog.
Razboishki Monastery Presentation of Mary
Great destination for a day trip near Sofia, combining untouched nature and encounter with history. About 70 kilometers away from the busy capital city, you will find yourself in a real oasis. Those who choose to visit this Bulgarian monastery can enjoy a breathtaking view. A small single-nave white church was built outside the monastery’s walls into the nearby rocks high above Nishava River. The church is one of the two active rock monasteries in Bulgaria, and its centuries-old history is full of vicissitudes.
See where to stay in Sofia. Use the search engine filter for better prices!