Make sure to visit Chiprovtsi Monastery of Saint John of Rila, which is believed to have been founded back in the 10th century. It is also known as Zhelezna Monastery due to its close proximity to the village of the same name in the valley of the Chiprovska Ogosta river. In the Middle Ages, the monastery was an important cultural and educational hub. During the early fights against the Ottoman rule, it was an important centre of the national liberation movement. In the 15th-16th centuries the Orthodox and the Catholic population of the area, along with the monastery inhabitants, fought side by side in the liberation struggles of the Bulgarians. The monastery witnessed several revolts against the occupants and offered refuge to many hajduci. It was burned a number of times. In the old days, it housed a rich library of Slavic manuscripts and books, which still exists today. The church is made of stone and architecturally it uses many borrowings from the gothic architecture of the Catholic churches in the region. The monastery complex, completed in 1876, includes two two-storey dormitories, a hegumen house, an ossuary with a chapel and a bell tower, where the bones of freedom fighters from Northwestern Bulgaria are buried, and above it is the obrok to Saint John of Rila. The outer church façade is covered in stone images and inscriptions. The western wing of the monastery houses the chapel of Saint Athanasius the Great, dating from 1880, with captivating mural paintings of saints. Each year the church feast day (19th October) is marked by preparing a big Kurban in honor of Saint John of Rila, and the same is done in July. From the monastery, one can enjoy a magnificent view of the entire Chiprovska Mountain.
- 43.403680 / 43°24’13” N – 22.933457 / 22°56’0” E
- D 102, then D 1022, then the next exit 1 km away
- 3461 Chiprovtsi
- Not required
- 00359 87 897 0388