About Bachkovo Monastery
Bachkovo Monastery (Bachkovski Manastir) is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Southern Bulgaria. Known for its unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian, and Bulgarian culture, it was established in 1083 and is said to be the second largest monastery in Bulgaria.
History of Bachkovo Monastery
Also known as Bachkovo Monastery of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin, the monastery was founded by statesman and military commander Prince Gregory Pakourianos, who set up a school for youth at the monastery.
During the Second Bulgarian Empire, the site was patronised by both Tsar Ivan Assen II and Tsar Ivan Alexander, whose portrait can be found in the ossuary.
Destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th to 16th centuries, only the ossuary of Bachkovo Monastery of the original monastery still survives. The rest mostly dates from 1601 onwards, when reconstruction began. This includes the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin. Other aspects, such as the Church of St Nicholas, were built in the 19th century.
Bachkovo Monastery Today
Located 10km from Asenovgrad and 30 km from Plovdiv, the monastery is easily accessible and is therefore the second most visited monastery in the country. During the weekends and on big orthodox holidays, large groups of pilgrims and tourists visit the site both for its history as well as it scenery, being located in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains near the Valley of Chepelarska River.
Today, visitors come to Bachkovo Monastery to see its many works of art as well as to appreciate its history, which includes various cultural influences, among them Georgian and Byzantine. A particular highlight is the ‘Panorama’ mural, which dates to the mid 19th century and runs along the outside wall of the refectory. The biggest scenic mural on the Balkan peninsula, it provides a bird’s eye view of the monastery with all of its surrounding buildings at the time of painting.
Mass is served twice a day: at 7am and 5pm (6pm in the summer).
Getting to Bachkovo Monastery
From the centre of Plovdiv, Bachkovo Monastery is reachable by car in 35 minutes via the Route 86 road. From the centre of Bachkovo, the site is reachable in 5 minutes by car via Route 86, or is a 20 minute walk by the same route.