Rozhen Monastery - History and Facts | History Hit

Rozhen Monastery

Rozhen, Sandanski, Bulgaria

Rozhen Monastery is a medieval monastery with breathtaking views of Bulgaria’s Pirin region, said to be the largest in the area.

Peta Stamper

06 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Rozhen Monastery

Nestled within the Melnik Earth Pyramids and said to be the largest in the area, Rozhen Monastery is a medieval monastery with breath-taking views of the Pirin region in Bulgaria. Whilst much of Rozhen Monastery dates to the 18th century, there is evidence that it existed as early as the 890 AD, and as such the site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions in Bulgaria.

Rozhen Monastery history

Perched on a mountain, Rozhen Monastery seems to have been constructed to melt into its surroundings. The monastery has developed over the centuries and is first recorded in written sources in 1551 – although coins and other archaeological evidence testifies to medieval life at the site during the time of Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos in the 13th century.

In the 14th century, Rozhen Monastery said to have been renowned for its school of calligraphy. Yet, one of the most famous aspects of Rozhen Monastery is its church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, also built in the Middle Ages.

In the 17th century, much of Rozhen Monastery was devastated by a fire and it underwent renovation in the later 17th and 18th centuries as the regional centre of Orthodox Christianity.

Rozhen Monastery today

Today, visitors to Rozhen Monastery can see the results of these renovations including its beautiful wood carvings and murals, some of which have survived from the 15th century. Also impressive is its stained glass, amongst the oldest in the country.

Nearby is the burial site of Bulgarian revolutionary leader Yane Sandanski, who died not far from Rozhen Monastery on 22 April 1915.

Getting to Rozhen Monastery

Rozhen Monastery is only 7 kilometres from the town of Melnik and by car is a 12 minute drive. If you’re a keen hiker, you can also walk to the monastery from Melnik via an eco-trail that takes just under an hour and 40 minutes.

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