Sokolski Monastery

Top choice in Bulgaria

A sky-blue church, posing against forested valleys, is the centrepiece of this 1833 monastery. What began as a humble wooden church outside Sokola Cave (Falcon Cave) expanded into the outbuildings and well-preened garden here today. Like many cloisters in Bulgaria, Sokolski Monastery sheltered revolutionary fighter Vasil Levski. The monastery is a 2.5km drive southwest of Etâr's Open-Air Museum, near Vodnitsi village.

The stone fountain at the centre of the garden was crafted in 1868 by Kolyu Ficheto, Bulgaria's pre-eminent National Revival–era architect. Its eight spouts are a nod to eight Gabrovo rebels who were captured and hanged.

There are souvenir and snack stands inside and outside the complex, as well as an excellent sweet shop selling rooster-shaped bonbons and lokum (rose-scented candy).