Rozhen Monastery information
The Rozhen Monastery, also called Birth of the Virgin Mary Monastery, stands 7km north of Melnik. Built in 1217, it was reconstructed in the late 16th century, though the Turks soon destroyed it. Today’s monastery, mostly built between 1732 and the late 18th century, has undergone significant modern renovations. Photography and video cameras are prohibited inside.
The Nativity of the Virgin Church (1600) contains stained-glass windows, 200-year-old murals, woodcarvings and iconostases. Murals also occupy the 2nd-floor refectory. The monastery enjoys a great setting atop Melnik’s cliffs and has a vine-covered courtyard.
About 200m before the monastery car park is the (closed) Sveti Kiril & Metodii Church ; here too is the grave of Yane Sandanski (1872–1915), one of the most important Macedonian revolutionary leaders.
The Rozhen Fair of traditional culture is held on 8 September.
Hotel Rozhena has simple but comfortable rooms with TV and bathroom, and more luxurious double apartments, plus sauna, gym and restaurant.
There are mehanas (taverns) near the bus stop, and a cafe by the car park.
It’s 7.2km from Melnik to the monastery, including the steep 800m uphill bit from Rozhen. Buses from Sandanski to Melnik continue to Rozhen. Alternatively, hike (6.5km) from Melnik up the track by the Bolyaskata Kâshta ruins along the creek bed, then look for the English-language signs. The trail is shadeless – avoid midday walking, wear a hat and take water.