THE CHEREPISH MONASTERY ,,THE DORMITION OF THE HOLY VIRGIN”

The Cherepish monastery is situated on the right bank of the Iskar River, in one of the most beautiful parts of the Iskar defile, surrounded by white limestone rocks. Near by, in the Ritlite area, was once situated the fortress Koritengrad. The legend has it that in this spot the Bulgarian King Ivan Shishman fought a fierce battle with the Ottoman invaders. Many soldiers perished and their skulls remained for a long time in the region. Gradually the area was named Cherepich (from cherep ‘skull’) and hence the name of the monastery.
The earliest data about the Cherepish monastery come from an old statute (tipik) of 1390-1396. After being destroyed and rebuild several times, the monastery was generally renovated in the beginning of the 17th c by priest Pimen Sofiyski – a famous icon-painter and literary man of that time.
The monastery gradually expanded and was restructured but has preserved its initial form. The church is preserved as it was in 1612. It consists of a one-nave naos with a semi-cylindrical arch. Reconstructed in the beginning of the 19th c, in 1898 an octahedral dome was added and in 1939 was built the narthex.
The additional buildings are interesting and arranged in a strange way -freely distributed all around – and don’t not form a closed monastery complex. With the years were built the Metodi building, the Vladishka building, the Rashid building, the Danail building, the chapel with the bone vault, the receiving building, and the old quarters of the Father Superior. Each of these buildings has its interesting story which the monks offer readily. The educational and literary activity of the monastery is well known. In it monks and literary men copied books and decorated them with colourful miniatures and silver casings. We can learn about that from quite a number of written monuments – the already mentioned monastery statute of the end of the 14th c, the well known Cherepish tetraevangelia from the 16th c and written on paper and kept in a gilded casing.
The mural paintings of the church are not well preserved. There are only some valuable icons from the 19thc. To the interesting exhibits can be added also the carved iconostasis, the throne of the bishop, a silver relic-box from the 18th c and embroidered shroud from the 19th c.
The monastery supported and aided the struggle for national liberation. It was the hiding place of Sofroni Vrachanski, in it was founded the Lyutibrod revolutionary committee, it hosted some members of Botev’s detachment after its defeat in the nearby area of Rashov dol on June 2, 1876.
During the totalitarian period the monastery also hosted the Seminary.

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