Places of interest
Rozhen Monastery

Location: Rozhen Monastery is located at the low lands of Pirin Mountain - one of the most beautiful mountains on the Balkan peninsula. The monastery is located 6 km from the smallest and extremely picturesque town in Bulgaria Melnik. From the Rozhen Monastery one can enjoy a delightful view to the close surroundings and the mountain hills.

History: According to the annals preserved in Mount Athos, the monastery was built in 890 and developed during the period of the rule of despot Alexy Slav, a ruler of the region during the reign of Tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207). It was reconstructed in 1715, while the church, which is part of the monastery, was completed in 1732. During the XIX century the the holy monastery reached the zenith of its glory and turned into a regional cultural centre.

General information: Rozhen Monastery is the largest monastery in the region of Pirin Mountain and one of the few medieval Bulgarian monasteries that have been preserved till present days. The monastery church Holy Nativity of the Virgin Mary has existed in its current looks since the end of the 18th century. It has three domes, a narthex and a small chapel on the north side. This is where the most valuable relic in the monastery is kept the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary. The monastery buildings have been constructed in different periods. The oldest ones are the monks dining room, the ossuary and several agricultural buildings, which date back to the time before the great fire in the monastery in 17th century. The holiday of the monastery is celebrated on the 8th of September, on the day of the Nativity of the Mother of God. On this day the miraculous icon is taken out to the courtyard, where thousands of believers come to pay their respects to the Virgin Mary. Today, Rozhen Monastery is well-maintained and is open for visitors all year round.

Relics and valuables: Numerous valuable mural paintings, glass stains, icons and unique wood-carved icon stands have been preserved in Rozhen Monastery. Some of them date back to the 16th - 18th century. The mural paintings that decorate the narthex of the main church are the earliest ones, probably from the 16th century. They represent mainly the deeds of Jesus Christ after his Resurrection. This is where a rich collection of icons that date back to the 16th till the 19th century is stored. The most prominent of them is the icon Virgin Hodegetria (16th century), which is situated in the icon stand of the chapel. The monastery collection includes wonderful models of the church plate crosses, casing, candlesticks, censers and others. The most ancient objects found in Rozhen Monastery date as far back as 12th century these are decorations and coins from the time of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus. This is where one can see the renowned icon of Virgin Mary, which is stored in an ark in the chapel Saints Cosmas and Damian.