ASEN'S FORTRESS - 100 National Tourist Sites

It is mandatory to visit Asen's fortress, which is only 2.5 km from the town. Asen fortress / fortress Petrich before renaming it in honor of Tsar Ivan Asen II / without doubt is the most interesting and long-lasting monument in Asenovgrad - in chronological boundaries of Stone-Copper Age to the early 15th century.

The fortress had been built on inaccessible rock in the early passage connecting Thrace with the Aegean. Only available from the southwest, there is a built wall, fitted later with martial pinnacles. To the west of the rocky foothill strategic way passes. A high trapezoidal tower defense is built there.

Archaeological materials found in the northern foothills of the Thracian warrior burial / V-IV century BC. / point that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age the "fortress" existed as a Thracian sanctuary and, later, as a Thracian fortress.

Conducted archaeological excavations of the so-called feudal castle - the highest and most heavily fortified part of the fortress- revealed the presence of three major construction work - IX, XI and XIII century. In the XI century a small church - a chapel already existed there. The greatest expansion and reconstruction of the fortress related to construction activity of Tsar Ivan Asen II sealed the historic inscription on a rock above its entrance: "In the year 6739/1231/4 indiction 4 from God raised Tsar Asen, Tsar of Bulgaria, Greeks and other countries put Aleksi Sevast and build this city. During his time is up and additional wall on the southwest slope under the Feudal castle. His case is the construction of two-store fortress large church "St. Mary Petrich."
Written evidence reported that after the death of Sultan Bayazid in 1402 a civil war for the throne broke out between his two sons Suleiman and Musa Kesedzhi. Musa was retained in a relatively well-preserved fortress of Petrich, but not passed the siege and surrendered to the mercy of his brother. In order not to wake more separatist appetites, and because there is no longer any strategic importance, after the capitulation of Musa the fortress is totally destroyed. The only survivor is the church of "St. Mary Petrich, "maintained most likely because of the insistence of Christian warriors in the armies of the two brothers, they were not few.

From the ancient stronghold of Petrich, now Asen's fortress, well studied is only the most fortified part so-called Feudal castle. Walls and other fortifications were partly restored and preserved. The only well preserved building here is the church "St. Mary Petrich. " It was declared a cultural monument of national importance because of its picturesque location / built on a rock platform at the foot of the Feudal castle / refinement and degree of preservation.

In 1986 on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the uprising of Asen and Peter the last restoration of the church was made - pointing facade and retouching of paintings from the second layer dating from the picturesque fourteenth century - the time of her construction' On August 14, 1991 the church was again lit and became an active church. Asen's fortress is a cultural monument of national importance. Asen's fortress is visited by many tourists and is part of the movement Discover Bulgaria - 100 national tourist sites. The cash desk has seal.

How to get there?

From the town of Asenovgrad go towards villages Yavorovo and Dobrolak direction. The fortress is about 3 km from the town. If you do not have your own transport you can go to Asenovgrad by public transport, then to travel the 3 km walk (30 min).

photo authors: Penka Popova, Andrea Dinkova

BACHKOVO MONASTERY "ASSUMPTION" - 100 National Tourist Sites

Bachkovo monastery was founded in 1038 by Georgian brothers Gregory and Abazii Bakuriani - senior military dignitaries of the Byzantine service.

Before three centuries after the foundation the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander renovated monastery and became its founder. As an architectural composition the monastery is characterized by many interesting and distinctive buildings. The church "Holy Archangels" (XV century) is one of them - and the lower floor is painted by Zahari Zograf in 1841, one such building is the monastery dining room (1601), which is in the great monastery courtyard.


Ancient philosophers are depicted as frescoes here, and the frescoes on the north and the outer wall are Zahari Zografs work. Depicted is a magnificent composition, which gives an idea of the panoramic view of the monastery and its surroundings (1843). The church "St. Nicholas takes place in this architectural ensemble too. It is located in the south courtyard of the monastery. The frescoes in narthex of the temple - again Zahari Zograf work (1840) are most valuable.

Monastery wings with rooms for bedrooms and cells were built during different times. Ossuary, which is actually a church tomb is the oldest building in the monastery complex (1083). Here are depicted the founders - Bakuriani brothers and founder Ivan Alexander. The murals are created by the Georgian artist John Iveropulets (XII century). Ossuary is located 400 meters east from the main entrance of the monastery. After 17th century the monastery buildings were renovated. Today, they enclosed two courtyards - north and south. The main church "St. Virgin Mary" dates from 1604 (murals from 1643, 1850). There you can find Virgin Elissa's miraculous icon of with silver hardware from dating 1310. Next to it is two-store church "Holy Archangels" (13-14 century).

In the southern courtyard is the church "St. Nicholas" (1834-37). On the porchs arch of "St. Archangels" church and in the narthex of church "St. Nicholas" are preserved Zahari Zografs wall paintings from 1840 1841. The monastery museum has a rich exposition of values, associated with its history of religious and cultural center. The Georgian philosopher John Petrukiy (XII century) author of capital essay on Neoplatonism worked 18 years in the monastery.

East of the monastery on the valley of the river Kluvia, there are two interesting waterfalls, a chapel and a large karst spring - spring 'St. Archangel ". Here are the deposits of rare Mediterranean plant species - tree juniper.

How to get there?

From the town of Asenovgrad go towards Smolyan town direction and after 8km you will get to Bachkovo Monastery. The buses from Asenovgrad to Smolyan also lead and stop at Bachkovo.

photo authors: Nina Yaneva


One of the preserved monastic ensembles in the field, declared in the early 70s of the XX century a monument. Occurs as a result of strong Bulgarian resistance of the waking population against attempts of Constantinople Patriarchate to spiritual assimilate this region.

This monastery was a great educational center, where local literary school worked. Furthermore, it is housed in monastery a 8 class church school educator of the field and Rhodopes population.

Known as Arapovski monastery it was founded in 1855, according to a legend. Built in 1856 by voluntary donations of the local population. It was build from masters from village Yugovo, led by Stoyan Gudevski. stonemasons from Bachkovo also participated. In 1878 it was burn down by the retreating Turkish troops. Today only the west wing is restored and preserved. The building is a typical monastery - I floor - business premises, II floor - living rooms with balconies. The restored, richly ornamented woodwork, cupboards and ceilings, as well as dynamic bay windows, represent the creative possibilities of the local master-builders.

The monastery was a nest of rebels and fighters against the Turkish tyranny. The presence of the only survived tower since the rebel's time in the ensemble is associated with the name of the famous Angel leader. Which confirms the monastery's role in the fight against the oppressor. Today, from the whole monastic ensemble, founded in 1856, only the west wing with business buildings in the first floor and residential areas with balconies on the second floor is reserved. Expression of the fighting spirit of Bulgarians, who built the monastery as a fortress, with small windows alternating with narrow vents (loopholes) are preserved traces of fresco - Samson's fight with the Nubian lion - symbol of our struggle against the oppressors.

The only one in Bulgaria was built in the plane. Located 5 km from Asenovgrad town.

Located centrally in the courtyard is the church "Saint Nedelya". In architectural terms it is close to the church in Bachkovo monastery and the church in the monastery "St. Kirik and Julita" - church with cross dome. Built from white granite, the church is a real architectural jewel among the green monastery courtyard. It is has three entrances - north, south and west. Over official, western entrance is preserved inscription: "... when Archbishop Paisii, father Archimandrite Sophronius, abbot of the Moldavskago monastery, with all pious and Orthodox Christians was build this temple in the year 1859, September 18 ..." From this inscription is clear that the two monastery near Assenovgrad - "Saint Petka" and "Saint Nedelya" had a general supervision, for who find written evidence yet in Stanimaka's sinurname (financial record) in 1519.

The whole central part of the church "Saint Nedelya" is painted. Judging by the style and colorful features, it is the work of four painters. Most of the mural is the work of young painter Georgi Danchov, associate of Levski. In the altar apse inscription: "1864, June 19, painter Georgii"is preserved. He worked here with his teacher Alexi Atanasov from Stanimaka.
Future revolutionary and a great patriot-painter Georgi Danchov gives us the church cycle of compositions from the life of the Slavic educators Cyril and Methodius - translation of the Slavic alphabet, ordination priests and education the people. In this worldly themes the artist has emphasized strong national element. A group of villagers listening to Slavic speech are dressed in trousers, framed with red sashes, wearing sandals, girded with leggings and black strings. The hooded cloaks are in different colors and striped shirts. Children are dressed in white shirts and blue trousers. Led by patriotic feelings the artist's gallery shows number of Bulgarian saints images, led by patriarch Evtimii Tarnovsky.

Compositions are transmitted through the life of St. Ivan Rilski and unknown Bulgarian woman beheaded by Turks. The temple has preserved many frescoes with everyday items, highlighted is the main occupation of people from this region, transmitted is the monastery nature around. All words are in Bulgarian language. In the northern apse two-line inscription testifies that donors who painted the church are patriots from Chirpan.

With his typical of the era stylistic features and iconography, with its themes, the murals in the monastery "Saint Nedelya" testify a high national pride and militant spirit of the Bulgarians painters and donors. 155 painted scenes and images are a real wall gallery with rich and purposeful patriotic suggestions. according to the art professor Atanas Bozhkov " They are a sort of gallery of historical figures and facts, with short verbal information about the Bulgarian saints in solemn poses."

How to get there?

Arapovo monastery "Saint Nedelya" is located 8 km from Asenovgrad town. You will find it easy - just after the Asenovgrad towns exit, take the road to Parvomay and you will see the monastery symbol.

photo authors: Nina Yaneva, Vladimir Evstatiev

© Copyright 2012 Tourist information center - Municipality of Asenovgrad