Troyan Monastery


Bulgaria's third-largest monastery showcases vivid, apocalyptic murals within its serene walls. Beaten in size only by Rila and Bachkovo, this monastery, 10km southeast of Troyan, has a pale sandstone Church of the Holy Virgin as its centrepiece. Inside glow frescoes painted by Zahari Zograf, the leading mural artist of the Bulgarian National Revival period, depicting saints and searing scenes of the Last Judgement. The monastery has a few cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and art galleries around it.

Parts of the 16th-century monastery survived attacks by the Turks between the 16th and 18th centuries, but most of today’s monastery dates to 1835. Zograf’s finest frescoes (painted in the 1840s) are outside on the back wall, depicting Judgement Day with fire-breathing monsters, pitchfork-wielding demons corralling the damned, and angels summoning the dead out of their coffins. The monastery is also renowned for its hand-carved wood altar and iconostasis, crafted in the mid-19th century by Tryavna's famed school of woodcarvers.

The 19th-century revolutionary leader Vasil Levski formed and trained insurgents here, and urged the monks themselves to fight the Turks in 1876. This history is highlighted in the small 3rd-floor museum (open by request).

The Virgin Mary's Feast Day (15 August) is a time of celebration at the monastery, when St Mary's mantle is displayed during an evening service.

Ask at the monastery reception office for rooms (60 lv) or call ahead.

From Troyan, some buses bound for Gabrovo, Apriltsi or Cherni Osâm (3 lv, 20 minutes, seven daily) reach the monastery.