Klisura Monastery of Saints Cyril and Methodius is the fourth largest in Bulgaria, located less than 80 kilometers from Sofia. Lying at the foot of Todorini Kukli peaks in Stara Planina, the monastery was also known as Vreshtitsa Monastery, after the name of the river running nearby. To get there, take the road to Montana through Petrohan Pass. Pass the village of Barziya and take the exit for Varshets for another 5 kilometers, and you will see the monastery in front of you. Its history is long and sorrowful. Records of its existence date back to 1240, but like many other Orthodox places, it too was destroyed after Bulgaria’s fall under Ottoman rule. In the 17th century, several monks decided to restore the monastery, which coincided with the outbreak of the Chiprovtsi Uprising in 1688. The rebels took refuge with the monks at the monastery, but they were denounced. Soon after that, the monks were caught and killed, and their bodies were burned not far from the monastery. Legends tell of a holy spring that emerged at the site of the murder and its holy water helped heal many ailing people. In 1742 the monastery was rebuilt with donations from the locals, but not for too long, as in 1862 it was burned by the Turkish troops. It was restored by Archimandrite Anthem, who arrived here at the age of 33 and built a shelter at the old site of the monastery. A Sultan decree was issued for its reconstruction, but the monk was not allowed to collect donations; instead, he could only his own resources. He thus started building and continued in the next three years. In addition to the church, he constructed two-storey buildings for other monks. The church was subsequently painted with icons in the typical Russian Orthodox tradition. Today the monastery is all-female, with a complex consisting of a church, a chapel, dormitories, a large park and a holy spring with healing living water. It has set up a one-of-a-kind iconography studio for Bulgaria, in which the nuns paint wonderful icons in the style of the Ohrid school. Visitors to the monastery can learn more about its history from the church museum, which houses valuable exhibits – photographs, documents, church plate objects, liturgical books, and icons. Today the monastery is in the territory of Vidin Eparchy.