Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo

The province of Ruse is home to a group of quaint monolithic monasteries hewn out of solid rock in the deep canyon of the Rusenski Lom river, known as the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo. This unique complex, consisting of monasteries, churches, hermit cells and farming premises, dates back to the 12th century. Four monasteries were found in the area, whose church murals are outstanding examples of medieval painting. Inhabited for decades by monks, literary and linguistic ideologues, the monasteries became one of the most active centres of literature and education at the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Their ktetors were the Bulgarian rulers Ivan Asen II and Ivan Alexander, whose donor portraits seen inside the churches are known all over the world. Remorse of Judas, the raising of Lazarus, the Transfiguration, the entry into Jerusalem are just some of the scenes pictured in vivid detail and remarkable proportion to the surroundings. The naked human figures drawn in some of the churches represent a departure from the canon. The donor portrait of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria, one of the most significant examples of 14-th century art, has become an integral part of the world’s cultural heritage. Today this remarkable rock-hewn complex is visited by thousands of pilgrims, believers and tourists.
Please note that the complex is closed from December to February. Visits in November and March need to be confirmed over the phone on account of the weather conditions.

Day 1
Day 1 – Craiova – Strehaia – Maglavit - Vidin

Visit to Madona Dudu Church, St. Demetrius Cathedral, Mântuleasa Church and the Church of the Holy Trinity, Craiova (optional)

Departure to Strehaia and visit to the Monastery of Strehaia

Departure to Maglavit and visit to the Monastery of Maglavit

Departure to Vidin, Bulgaria

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Vidin

Day 2
Day 2 – Vidin - Montana – Vratsa - Pleven

Visit to the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius, Church of Saint Paraskevi and Church of St. Pantaleon in Vidin

Free time in Vidin: a tour of the Baba Tonka Fortress, visit to the Historical Museum and the Krastata Kazarma museum (optional)

Visit to the Strupeski Monastery of St. Elijah the Prophet, Vratsa

Lunch in the Monastery area

Departure to Pleven

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Pleven

Day 3
Day 3 – Pleven – Veliko Tarnovo

Visit to the Metropolitan Church of St. Nicholas, Church of St. Paraskevi and the Church of Holy Trinity, Pleven

Visit to the Chapel Mausoleum of Saint George the Conqueror, Pleven

Lunch in Pleven

Walk to the Skobelev Park and Ossuary Memorial or visit to the Kaylaka Park and the Wine Museum

Departure to Veliko Tarnovo

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo

Day 4
Day 4 – Veliko Tarnovo

Visit to the Tsarevets Fortress and Trapezithsa Hill, Veliko Tarnovo

Visit to the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs and the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, Veliko Tarnovo

Lunch in Veliko Tarnovo

Free time: visit to the old part of the Veliko Tarnovo

“Light and sound” show – Tsarevets Fortress

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo

Day 5
Day 5 – Arbanasi – Veliko Tarnovo

Visit to the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos and the Monastery St. Nicholas of Myra, Arbanasi

Visit to the Church of the Nativity of Christ, Arbanasi

Lunch in Arbanasi

Visit to the Church “St. Athanasius”, Arbanasi

Overnight accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo

Day 6
Day 6 - Ivanovo - Ruse

Departure to Ivanovo

Visit to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo and Medieval Fortress of Cherven

Departure to Ruse and lunch on the Danube river

Visit to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and the Church of St. George in Ruse

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Ruse

Day 7
Day 7 – Ruse – Balș- Călui – Craiova

Visit to the Regional Historical Museum and the ancient Roman fortress of Sexaginta Prista (optional)

Departure to Balș and visit to the Monastery of Măineşt

Departure to Călui and visit to the Monastery of Călui


Hotel-Restaurant „Riga“
GPS coordinates: 43.853023 / 43°51’10” N – 25.951217 / 25°57’4” E
Address: 22 Pridunavski Blvd., Ruse, Ruse District

Hotel-Restaurant „Dunav Platsa”
GPS coordinates: 43.849378 / 43°50’57” N – 25.954089 / 25°57’14” E
Address: Svoboda Square, in the centre of the town of Ruse, Ruse district

„Pontona“ restaurant
GPS координати: 43.854841 / 43°5’17” N – 25.952941 / 25°57’10” E
Address: On the riverbank of Danube, Ruse, Ruse District

La Strada restaurant
GPS coordinates: 43.850958 / 43°51’3” N – 25.955588 / 25°57’20” E
Address: 77 Aleksandrovska street, pedestrian zone, Ruse, Ruse District

Orlova Chuka Cave
GPS coordinates: 43.593430 / 43°35’36” N – 25.959808 / 25°57’35” E
Address: E85/D5, then D5001, then D501, deviation around 5 km, between the villages of Dve Mogili and Pepelina, Ruse District
Orlova Chuka cave is located on the right slope of the valley of the Cherni Lom River, at a distance of approximately 40 km from the city of Ruse, and has a total length of about 13.5 km, thus ranked second in Bulgaria after the Duhlata Cave. The cave was found in 1941 by a shepherd and was opened for visitors in 1957. It consists of several halls: Concert Hall; The Big screes; The Small Screes,, “Space Hall” and The Rest Hall. Bones of cave bears and traces of life of cavemen have been found here. At the same time, it is a habitat of 14 species of bats, three of them included in the Red Book.
N.b. the cave is closed for visitors from November to April.

Cherven Medieval Fortress
GPS coordinates: 43.622440 / 43 ° 37’20 “N – 26.025070 / 26 ° 1’30” E
Address: access from E85 / D5, then D501 and deviation of about 5 km., between Cherven village and Cherni Lom valley, Ruse district.
The Bulgarian city of Cherven was one of the most important military, cultural and spiritual centres of the Second Bulgarian State (1186-1393). It was built on the site of a Byzantine fortress from the 6th century, but archaeological findings reveal that this place was inhabited even before the Thracians. It turned into a significantly important centre after 1235 when the Metropolis of Cherven was established here. The fortress had been destroyed during the Mongol invasion and later conquered by the Byzantine Empire in 1278-1280. The city was known as a big trade and craft centre, located at the crossroads of several trade routes in the region. When the Turks conquered the city in 1388, it was almost destroyed. Archaeological excavations reveal the remains of a large feudal palace, fortress walls, and underground tunnels, remnants of many churches, public buildings, workshops, and streets. The fortress tower dating from the 14th century is almost fully preserved. The Fortress Cherven has been declared an archaeological reserve of national importance.

Regional Museum of History – Ruse
GPS coordinates: 43.844479 / 43 ° 50’40 “N – 25.947612 / 25 ° 56’51” E
Address: 3 “Knyaz Alexander Battenberg” squar, Ruse, Ruse District
The Regional Museum of History was founded in 1904. It is housed in a beautiful building, also known as the Battenberg Palace, which is of a great historical importance, because it was a residence of Alexander Battenberg. The museum features seven full-time exibitions, including Kaliopa house (which houses the City Art Museum); The Pantheon of the National Revival Heros; Baba Tonka house-museum; Zahariy Stoyanov house museum, and another three exibitions, being open-air: the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo; the Medieval city of Cherven and the Roman castle of Sexaginta Prista. The most interesting exhibits hold by the museum are the prehistoric pottery and idol plastic arts; the collection of bones of prehistoric mammals, including a unique lower jaw of a Mammuthus rumanus; the Borovo treasure of the 4th century BC; artefacts from the fortress Sexaginta Prista and the finds of excavations of the antieque Danube castles; a collection of medieval frescoes; objects found in the Medieval city of Cherven, personal belongings of notable Bulgarian revolutionaries (Georgi Rakovski, Stefan Karadzha, etc.), and many others.

Ancient Roman Fortress Sexaginta Prista, Ruse
GPS coordinates: 43.847016 / 43 ° 50’49 “N – 25.945471 / 25 ° 56’43” E
Address: 2A Tsar Kaloyan Str., Ruse, Ruse District
The castle Sexaginta Prista is located in the Nortwestern part of the town of Ruse, on the bank of the Danube river. The name of the Roman fortress Sexaginta Prista literally means “The port of the sixty ships”. The castel received this name in connection to the Dacian wars of emperor Dometian (85-89). At this time, a Roman legion, consisting of 6,000 soldiers, was transferred to the mouth of the Roussenski Lom River. Exactly 60 ships were necessary to complete this action. The latest research proves that the hill where the castle later was built, was first a spot used by the Thracians to conduct uknown rituals and cult practices. Many artifacts were also found here. There has been intense trading activity during Emperor Vespasian (69-79). The remains of a Roman military camp from the first half of the 4th century and during the first decade of the 5th century, coins and ceramics were found on the territory of the fortress; a tunnel built of stone and used during the Ottoman Empire, which can be reached with 30 steps. The fortress was destroyed during the attacks of the Avars and Slavs at the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century. In the 9-10th century, the medieval settlement Ruse was founded on its ruins. It played an important administrative and military role during the Middle Ages.

Trip Facts

  • 43.6229/N 43°37 '22.44'' 26.0216/26°1 '17.76''
  • 7088 Ivanovo, Ruse district
  • +359 82 825 002
  • Regular ticket: 5 BGN; Group ticket: 4 BGN; Students: 2 BGN;
  • 112

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