Backlovo is a small village 30km south of Plovdiv that we easily reached by mini-bus in 40 minutes (Rodopi bus station is at the back side of the train station). With a ticket that costs 4leva (about 2 euro!) it was a great idea for a half day trip from Plovdiv.
Backkovo is famous for its monastery (located at the edge of the village) which is the second biggest monastery in Bulgaria after Rila. It was founded in 1083 and had its great period until the end of 14th century when ransacked by the ottoman turks. After almost 3 centuries the reconstruction began and it is still a working monastery (that’s why no photos are allowed inside).
The mini-bus dropped us at the main road next to the village and we walked up the road that leads to the monastery, along the way there were numerous stalls with people selling local products (herbs, honey, nuts, crafts, souvenirs etc). There are also some small restaurants. The monastery is at the end of the road (only 5’ walk away, don’t worry). We entered the main gate where we informed that we cant take pictures. We walked a bit at the main yard and then visited the church where the morning mass was taking place (it was early in the morning), a touching moment with locals standing silent listening to the priest, it must be impressive for those that are not familiar with the orthodox church but we also enjoyed it.
On our way back to the main road we did some shopping (local products are always way better than any stupid souvenir made in the other side of the world) and we also stopped for coffee and some food before we take the bus back to Plovdiv.
300 metres from the monastery the ossuary is located. It is the only tomb church of the Orthodox world preserved fro, the Byzantine Komnin period. It is painted with fresco’s on the two floors of the building. These have high quality and are of most valuable artistic examples of 11 th century Byzantic culture. From the 13 th century Bachkovo monastery was included in two state’s borders, Bulgaria and the Byzantin Empire. Howevery, service was continued to be Orthodox. After the Turkish domination in the 14 th century, the monastery kept its link with Bulgaria. In the 19 th century the monastery was the main cultural centre in the region. It nowadays counts as one of the oldest and richest monasteries of the country.
Probably the most attractive side kick from Plovdiv is the Bachkovo monastery, 30 kilomters south of Plovdiv. It was established in 1083 by the brothers Bakouriani, who were military commanders in the army of the Byzantine Emperor Alexis Comnenus. The main church of the monastery is constructed in 1604. In that century Tsar Alexander was the monasterys donor. In 1643 paintings were done. In the 17 th century the cathedral of Assumption and diningroom were build. In the thirties of the 19 th. Century the Saint Nicolas and Mirah church were build. In 1850 the main church was painted again.
From the first period of painting murals are visible. It shows us that it was dedicated to st. Virgin of Petrich. The icon of the Holy Virgin was dated back to 1310. The murals at the entrance have saints painted in full size as well as the Bishop of Plovdiv. The biggest part of the church is the new 1850 painting by Odrinchanin Zograph. See the portrait of donor Abbot Cyril. The church has also the oldest wood-carved iconostases of the country. The saint Archangels church was erected in the 13 th century. On its vaults murals, one of the best of the National Revival period, are depicting Gospel Proverbs.The famous icon painter Zograph has given everyday life to the images. The Dinningroom dates back from the 17 th. Century. It has beautifull fresco’s from this century. In the vault you can see a painting of the Jesey tree. In its basement the ancient philosophers are painted as the base of Orthodox Christian religion. Thers is a long marble dinning table. At the rooms outside wall a composition is painted by Atanassov in the second half of the 19 th century. The Mirrah basilica has murals made by Zograph of Samokov in 1840. He painted churches with biblical scenes and made a triple portret fresco of himself, the abbot and second abbot. In the doomsday composition you see everyday life painted Plovdiv citizens dressed in wealthy silk clothings.
Bachkovo Monastery (Bachkovski Manastir) is the second biggest monastery in Bulgaria. Although different from Rila Monastery, it is equally beautiful.
It was founded in 1083 by the georgian Gregorius Bacuriani. It was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks in the 15-16 centuries. It was rebuilt between 1604 and 1840! The cathedral church is from 1604 and the beautiful frescoes, from the 19th century, done by the most famous Bulgarian icon painter, Zachariy Zograf.
The icon of Virgin Mary, brough from Georgia in 1311 is famous and very important to worshipers. As far as I know, it is taken out during the parade on Virgin Mary's day, August 15th.
The crypt is the oldest surviving, dating back to the 11th century.
The main pic here is actually 2 pics taken one after the other, since I couldn't capture the inner part of the monastery in one shot. (Back then I had an old Russian Zenith camera, all manual and no wide-angle or zoom lense, still it took great shots!)
The monastery is situated in Rodopi mountain, on 26 km south of Plovdiv.
There is a nice restaurant nearby called "Vodopada" because of the natural waterfall in the garden. A very beautiful and calm place!
Bachkovo Monastery - only about 45 minutes away from Plovdiv on a bus (it will be much quicker in a car), there is this wonderful sanctuary - the second largest monastery in Bulgaria. A travelogue to come soon!