photo: Spiritia,

In the dark centuries of slavery, there are few places in our country where the spirit of patriotism still burns. The oppressed Bulgarian people are fighting for their physical survival. Many care people do not have time to meet their spiritual needs. At the same time, there are less and less places of native land where Bulgarians could be educated and raised in patriotism.


Throughout northwestern Bulgaria, the main center of Bulgarian and intransigence with slavery conditions is the Chiprovsky Monastery. During the Renaissance, this monastery prepares future teachers for all settlements in the region. At the same time, every rebellion, big or small, is inevitably linked to it. The Chiprovtsi Monastery will either provide shelter and shelter to Bulgarian committees or be a meeting point for participants in the armed struggle against Ottoman rule.


The monastery has a very glorious history, which we will tell you in the next few lines. The Bulgarian writer Gregory Zamblak reports that at the end of the fourteenth century the kingdom of Vidin had monks and monasteries that "surpassed any number." One of them is the Chiprovtsi monastery St. Ivan Rilski. When exactly was it built?


In the "Description of the Kingdom of Bulgaria" from 1640, the Catholic bishop Peter Bogdan announces that the Chiprovtsi Monastery is 700 AD. it was created around 940, is very rich, "there are many vineyards and sheep and other animals". A local legend tells of the construction of a meth or chapel named after St. Ivan Rilski after 1187 In the Hungarian-Byzantine war of 1183, the Magyars conquered Sredets, and their king Bela III brought the relics of St. Ivan Rilski, the patron saint of the Bulgarian people, to their capital. Soon, however, the Hungarians decide to bring the relics back to Sredets (Sofia). Their road in 1187 goes along the settlements of Chiprovtsi, Martinovo and Zhelezna. People from these settlements go out to meet the relics, tremblingly approach their casket and instantly recover. Miracles with the relics of St. Ivan Rilski causes the locals to build a monastery or chapel named after the saint.

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There are other legends in the history of the Chiprovtsi Monastery in the Middle Ages. According to the most famous, Konstantin II Sratsimir, the son of the last Bulgarian tsar, before the fall of Ottoman rule, Ivan Sratsimir, resides in the monastery. Following the failure of the uprising of Constantine and his cousin Fruzhin, Constantine became a monk at the Chiprovtsi Monastery. Here he spent the last years of his life, between 1417 and 1422. He was referred to as a local spring - the Tsar's Well.


It is normal for the monastery, where the son of the last Bulgarian king lives, to become the main center of resistance against foreign rule. In connection with the Great Turkish War (1683 - 1699), Bulgarians from the predominantly Catholic villages of Chiprovtsi, Zhelezna, Klisura and Kopilovtsi, but also from Orthodox villages in Berkovsko, Lomsko, Vidin and Pirotsko, supported the Austrian army. The Ottoman invasion of Europe was stopped once and for all in the battle of Vienna from September 1683. Europeans were already attacking the Ottoman Empire. In 1688, the Austrians conquered Belgrade, which marked the beginning of the uprising in western Bulgaria - the Chiprovskoye and the Karposhovo.

Chiprovtsi was led by George Pejachevich and Archbishop Stefan Knezevich. The rebels take over the fortress Orsova and Kutlovitsa (today the city of Montana). However, the Ottomans quickly recovered, and the Austrians did not provide the military support requested by the Bulgarians. The Bulgarian settlements in the region have been mercilessly overthrown, with the punishment of the whole population being killed or evicted, and the Chiprovtsi Monastery destroyed.


According to local evidence, the monastery was rebuilt in 1703 and its first priests were pop Kyula and pop Stavri. At first, only a chapel was built on the site of a monastery destroyed by the Turks. The springs mention the monastery again during the turbulent Kurdzhali time from the end of the 1688th - the beginning of the 1806th centuries. Here the famous Hajdut Velko, the young man from the Belogradchik rocks, finds refuge. Bulgarians from the region continue to bow their necks to the enslavement, despite the devastating consequences of the Chiprovtsi uprising in 1816. In connection with the rebellious sentiment, in XNUMX, by order of the Berkovskiy valley, the Kopilovtsi suburb destroys the monastery and kills all monks (except for the abbot). Akaki). Ten years later, in XNUMX, the monastery was again restored by order of the Sultan.


In the 30s, northwestern Bulgaria became an arena of new bloodshed. While the empire was occupied with problems in Egypt and the Middle East, the Serbian principality of Milos Obrenovic annexed new territories along its border with the Bulgarian lands - Knjazevac, Krusevac, Zajecar and others. The Bulgarians in Pirot, Berkovsko and Chiprovsko are waiting for this to rebel. To win them over, the Serbian prince promises them weapons and ammunition. On Spasovden in 1836, 4000 people gathered in the gorge above the Chiprovtsi Monastery, led by Mancho Punin from the village of Bistrilitsa. The uprising begins. Bulgarians capture several Turks from nearby villages and send a delegation to Serbia. Serbs, however, refuse at the last minute to provide material assistance. This puts an end to the so-called Manch Revolt (riot). As a punishment, the monastery, the assembly site of the rebels, is being devastated.


In the following 1837, the Chiprovtsi Monastery gave a meeting to other rebels, this time 1800 - 2000 in number. Their leader is Varban Penov from the nearby village of Beli Mel. It is the same as the previous year. Bulgarians expect rifles from Serbia that never come. Despite the lack of weapons, a battle is fought with the Turks, in which the insurgents fight valiantly, but in the end they retreat and the survivors return to their villages. And the Chiprovtsi Monastery, which has become a symbol of the rebellions of northwestern Bulgaria, is again suffering from the anger of the Turks.        

photo: Spasimir /

The last and most brutal abuse of the monastery occurs on the eve of the April Uprising. Its walls give shelter to the bands of Panayot Hitov and Philip Totyu. The Turks attacked and the Bulgarian committees managed to retreat to the mountain without serious losses. For revenge, the Ottomans stabbed the eyes of icons from the church and chapels with knives, and a Turk dressed and walked with monastic garments taken from the monastery.


Now, a few words about what makes the St. Ivan Rilski Chiprovtsi Monastery an educational center for the whole of northwestern Bulgaria. It is reported that the priests and lascivious people in Lomsko and Chiprovsko here in the monastery for the first time "opened their eyes", ie. learn to read. Here are prepared novices, priests and monks "from the Iskar to the Bulgarian Morava and all over the Pirot and Nishko." There are cells for nearly 200 monks who are involved in the writing of books and the artistic decoration of letters. The glory of the monastery probably caused the Russian emperor Paul I (1796 - 1801) to present it in 1800 with a richly decorated gospel with silver shackles.

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Architecturally, the Chiprovtsi Monastery is very interesting. This gives it a place among the "Hundred tourist sites of Bulgaria". His temple was built in 1829, which is clear from the inscription "Mladen 1829 Velko and Hristo". It has a basilica shape, with a dome, its construction is made of stone. It has a very beautiful iconostasis. In the monastery yard, formed by a stone fence, there is also a two-storey monastery cloister with open verandas, 75 m long, as well as a three-storey tower. On the ground floor of the tower there is an ossuary, where the bones of participants from the uprisings in 1688, 1836 and 1837 are laid. On the second floor there is a chapel, and on the third there is a bell tower. In front of the entrance of the building there is a memorial plaque with the names of prominent insurgents.

The Chiprovtsi Monastery St. Ivan Rilski is one of the most remarkable cultural monuments in northwestern Bulgaria. It is worth visiting to feel its spiritual attraction - a legacy of glorious and centuries-old history.

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