Bachkovo monastery was founded in 1083 by Grigorii Barkuriani, and is the second oldest monastery in Bulgaria. The ossuary dates to that time, but many of the buildings date from later periods. The murals in the refectory (17th century) are of particular interest.
Inside the monastery entrance there is a plaque to Patriarch Kiril and Exarch Stefan who helped to save Bulgarian Jews from Nazi extermination camps in 1943, and who are buried in the monastery.
Inside the monastery courtyard we were puzzled by a stall selling clothing and towels. We later discovered that these were intended to be purchased as gifts to the Virgin, to whom the monastery church is dedicated. The monastery is a place of pilgrimage for childless women in particular.
Visiting on a Sunday morning, we were able to observe part of the liturgy service.
Photography is not allowed inside the monastery complex.
To get there take a minibus from the Rodopi bus station (south of the main railway station). There are many departures a day, the journey won't take more than 40 min and cost only a couple of Lv.
At the foot of the way leding up to the monastery there are numerous of stalls selling souvenirs, food, bevarages, toys, postcards, jam and honey, yes you name it and it's there.
The road up to Bachkovo monastery is lined with stalls selling everything from souvenirs to 'Hello Kitty' vests, Chelsea football scarves and luridly-coloured garden gnomes. You can also stop for a drink at one of the many refreshment stalls.
Of more interest to tourists are the stalls which sell local wood-carving, dried herbs, honey and rose-petal jam.
What to buy: Honey, rose petal jam, carved wooden items, dried herbs.
On one hand all these stalls look ugly on the way to monastery. On other hand most of the jams are very delicious.
What to buy: jams of strawberry; rachel; honey with nuts
Natural Pрeserve since 1962. One quarter from all plans on the terriory of Bulgaria may be seen there. Only walking is allowed.
The entry is just next to Bachkovo Monastery. There is a map on the entry.