Located near the city of Rousse, high up in the sheer cliffs above river Rusenski Lom, are hewed out churches and monasteries dating back to the XII century. During the XIV century the monastery has been a centre of the Hesychasm – mystical movement in the Orthodox Christianity which hols that by intense prayers and solitary life, the believer can reach unity with God. During that time the complex was constituted of more than 40 rock temples and 300 premises for hermits. It is believed that they have maintained their livelihood with only forest fruits and roots. Century-old frescoes and inscriptions are preserved in the monastery showing incredible examples of Bulgarian medieval art.
Did you know that the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979?
Things to do
Visiting the Rock-hewn of Ivanovo you can enjoy and visit many of the preserved churches, famous with their frescoes which are considered to be one of the top achievements of the medieval Bulgarian and Balkan Art. Today though, frescoes are preserved in only 5 of the churches. In the main church in the complex is “Saint Mary” you will see biblical scenes and images like The Last Supper, Passion, The Entry into Jerusalem and other images of the saints and apostles. One of the most beautiful chapels is “Gospodev Dol” where you can see different scenes with Jesus Christ. In the St Archangel Michael Chapel (“The Buried Church”) you will see a portrait of Tsar Ivan Asen II as a ktitor of the monastery, holding a model of the chapel. Known to the locals as “The Church” is another chapel to which Tsar Ivan Alexander has been a ktitor and also there you can see unique frescoes in the Tarnovo and Constantinople art style of the XIV century. During the Second Bulgarian Empire the monastery is established as a spiritual and literary centre. In the complex you can also see the famous inscription of the monk Ivo Gramatik
Recommended Travel Descriptions
The religious centre is located 4km from Ivanovo and 22 km from Rousse. Ivanovo can be reached by automobile or by train and from there tourist can reach the complex by directional signs from Ivanovo through an asphalt road or by taking a walk through the marked footpath which takes approximately 40 minutes. A system of stairs gives tourists access to the different churches and chapels in the complex.
Best time to travel
Summer in Bulgaria is typically hot and dry so many tourists prefer spring or autumn for their visits to Ivanovo. The complex is located in the cliffs and though there may be shades people are exposed directly to the sun.