The Rozhen Monastery is located 1 km from the village of Rozhen, and 7 km from the town of Melnik, after the village of Karlanovo. Accessible by car and on foot through an eco-trail, it is the largest Orthodox monastery in the Pirin region and a nice place to visit in the same time-day as Melnik. The entire monastery complex is prized as a monument of Bulgarian culture.
You may also wonder : « Another article about the monasteries..! ». Yes, and there are also 80 others I have to visit and write an article about about. So, there are maybe still 100 active monasteries in Bulgaria and I realize that the formulation that says that « When you have seen one you have all seen » doesn’t work here because no Bulgarian monastery does look like an other one, they are each special. The Rozhen Monastery takes its place in a fabulous landscape, dominated by the pyramids of Melnik which can be seen from the parking area. Between stone and wood, there is a very present vegetation, very diverse including …
… some palm trees (Yes !) and a variety of colors, also vine leaves framing the entire place. The place is very well maintained, and religious work the land here and there in a very quite atmosphere. A barbecue prepared just behind the wall in a no public court (reserved for residents) but we were not invited… Benches in which it’s nice to sit are present everywhere on the area.
For the story, the Rozhen Monastery of the Birth of the Holy Virgin Mary won its fame as a center of spiritual life of the region. The monastery is relatively well preserved even today and it is visited by many tourists from different countries (Opening time : everyday, 7:00am-7:00pm). The celebration of the monastery is 8 September and people from throughout the region come to the monastery to participate. First built in 1217, it was largely reconstructed in the late 16th century after a fire.
Its most significant building, the Nativity of the Virgin Church (1600), contains stained-glass windows, 200-year-old murals (depicting 150 Biblical scenes), woodcarvings and iconostases, with the icon of the Virgin its main focus for pilgrims. As all church, it’s not possible to take pictures inside (normally, it’s not possible to take picture in the monastery courtyard also (I’m not a good girl but sure I stayed very discrete…). However, we can enjoy the beautiful exterior frescoes.
Definitely a place to visit in the same time as Melnik.