The Monastery of the Seven Altars

The picturesque Iskar Gorge in Stara Planina, near the village of Elenov Dol in Mezdra Municipality and not far from Eliseyna Train Station, is home to Osenovlag Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos, also known as the Monastery of the Seven Altars. Despite its geographical location in Vratsa Province, the monastery is part of Sofia Eparchy. Different records date its founding back to the 11th century. Destroyed on many occasions, it was fully restored in the 19th century. Its cross-domed church was built on the site of another, much older church. The more common name of the Seven Altars, which it is also known with, comes from the seven chapels (altars) found inside the church. They have been dated back to the 17th-18th centuries, and are adorned with beautiful carvings depicting plant, animal and Biblical scenes. Four of the altars, lined in the shape of a cross, are separated by inner walls, two are by the front door, and one is opposite the entrance. The carved wooden iconostases date back to the 17th-18th centuries. At different periods the monastery was a literary and educational centre and had its own monastic school with walls covered in murals, one of which showing a rather uncommon scene of the Last Judgement. The legend goes that the monastery was restored by seven boyars, coming from Bessarabia, who also established seven villages in the vicinity. Today it is a large complex, consisting of a church, a cooking house, a set of three dormitories and another one of two, and a bell tower. Very close to it there is a holy spring. The monastery is one the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria. The surrounding area offers wonderful opportunities for tourism and recreation. There is a convenient connection to the train station, from where a bus departs for the monastery daily.

Day 1
Day 1 Osenovlashki monastery – Vratsa – Klisura monastery

Visit to the Osenovlashki Monastery of the Seven Altars

Visit to the Ethnographic complex “Dyado Yotso” (optional)

Lunch in Vratsa

Visit to the Church St. Sopronius and the Ethnographic Museum

Departure to the Klisura Monsastery of Saints Cyril and Methodius and overnight accommodation in the Monastery

Day 2
Day 2 Montana – Drobeta Turnu Severin

Visit to the Lopushanski Monastery

Departure to the Montana

Lunch in Montana

Visit to the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Montana

Visit to the Montana History Museum, The Lapidarium – Open-air archaeological exposition and Castra ad Montanesium fortress, Montana (optional)

Departure to Romania

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Drobeta Turnu Severin

Day 3
Day 3 Orșova – Dubova

Visit to the Mraconia Monastery, the rock-carved bed of the Danube river, sculpture of Decebalus, Dubova cave, boat trip on the Danube

Lunch in Dubova area

Dinner and overnight accommodation it the Monastery of Saint Ana

Day 4
Day 4 – Orșova – Drobeta Turnu Severin

Visit to the Vodița Monastery and the Monastery of St. Ana, Orsova area

Visit to the Medieval Fortress of Severin

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Drobeta Turnu Severin

Day 5
Day 5 – Departure

Restaurant-complex „Dyado Yotso”
GPS coordinates: 43.087815 / 43°5’16” N – 23.473941 / 23°28’26” E
Address: D16, direction Lyutibrod-Svoge, deviation from the road to Ochin Dol Village, Vratsa District

„Hemus Hotel“, Vratsa

GPS coordinates: 43.20200 / 43°12’7” N – 23.548685 / 23°32’55” E
Address: 1 Hristo Botev Boulevard,  Vratsa, Vratsa District

Hotel “Chaika”
GPS coordinates: 43.191503 / 43°11’29” N – 23.537166 / 23°32’14” E
Address: at the exit of the town, D  1002, Vratsa, Vratsa District

St. Sophronius of Vratsa Ethnographical & Revival Complex
GPS coordinates: 43.202564 / 43°12’9” N – 23.550727 / 23°33’2” E
Address: 12 Dimitraki Hadzhitoshev Str., Vratsa, District of Vratsa
A must-see destination on your route is the Ethnographical and Revival Complex, which is part of the Regional Museum of History in Vratsa. This architectural and ethnographic museum exposition was created between 1972 and 1987. It is in the center of Vratsa and consists of three beautiful houses built in the typical for the Bulgarian National Revival period style. They are declared as architectural and historical monuments of culture. The visitors here enjoy the impressive statue of St. Sophronius of Vratsa, which rises spectacularly at the entrance of the complex. Several collections of tools, household items, ceramic objects, folklore costumes, carpets etc. present the most characteristic features of the traditional folk culture of the region.

Regional Museum of History, Vratsa
GPS coordinates: 43.200981 / 43°12’3” N – 23.547608/ 23°32’51” E
Address: 2 Boulevard “Hristo Botev”, Vratsa, Vratsa district

Another interesting destination on your route is the historical museum in the town of Vratsa, which is one of the 100 national landmarks of Bulgaria. The museum expositions are presented in separate halls, each of them tracking the different historical developments of the region.

Okolchitsa Peak
GPS coordinates: 43.154236 / 43 ° 9’15 “N – 23.584046 / 23 ° 35’2” E
Address: 22 km. from Vratsa
The Okolchitsa Peak is probably one of the most significant historical places in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian poet and national hero Hristo Botev and his detachment heroically fought against the Ottoman army here and met their end near this spot in June 1876. A solitary 35 meters tall cross in memory of the freedom fighter stands here. There is a chapel named St. George beneath the monument. An impressive nation-wide pilgrimage take place here each year on June 2, attended by thousands of people and government officials, who worship the memory of the great Bulgarian revolutionary and his struggle for independence from the Ottoman slavery.

Archeological complex “Kaleto”, Mezdra
GPS coordinates: 43.139870 / 43 ° 8’23 “N – 23.704888 / 23 ° 42’17” E
Address: at the exit of the south-west limit of the town of Mezdra, deviation from D1, town of Mezdra, Vratsa region

The archaeological complex “Kaleto” is situated on a rocky massive, over the riverbank of Iskar river, near the town of Mezdra, where major trade routes have been crossing since ancient times. The area around the complex was inhabited during the Stone and the Copper Ages and around 4 thousand BC. The Thracians settled here until the 1st century. In the 2nd century the area was conquered by the Roman Empire, and in the 7th century the Slavic tribes settled here. The Bulgarians settled here at the end of 7th century. In the 11th century the Byzantine Emperor Basil the Great conquered the Northwestern Bulgarian lands. Later they became part of the Ottoman Empire. In 2013, the whole complex was restored, and turned into a touristic attraction. The traces of fortified settlements from different periods as well as prehistoric pagan sanctuary, are preserved here. Plenty of archeological findings and remains from the different historical periods of the fortress are permanently exhibited in the complex. There is an ethnographic exhibition, also a souvenir shop and an information center housed in a separate hall.

Ritlite rocks
GPS coordinates: 43.107229 / 43 ° 6’26 “N – 23.624721 / 23 ° 37’29” E
Address: on the riverbank of Iskar, village of Luytibrod, road DN 16, village of Luytibrod, Vratsa district

The nature here is amazing. Ritlite area is a beautiful natural landmark, part of the Vratsa Balkan National Park. It is situated on the banks of the river Iskar, near the village of Luytibrod. The legends tell that there was an iron door for a long time that closed the way to the old Bulgarian fortress Serdika. Since 1938 the rock formations have been declared a natural landmark and a protected area and registered as protected area.

Trip Facts

  • 43.000087 / 43°0’0” N – 23.472186 / 23°28’19” E
  • Gabrovitsa River Gorge, 7 km from the village of Osenovlasko, Svoge
  • D16, then road to the village of Gabrovnitsa, 15 km, Vratsa district
  • 00359879995035
  • Not required
  • 112

Tourist information centres in Bulgaria

Tourist information centres in Romania

County of Mehedinţi

County of Dolj

County of Olt