THE DRAGALEVTSI MONASTERY ,,THE HOLY VIRGIN OF VITOSHA”

The Dragalevtsi monastery is situated in the foot of the northern slope of the Vitosha Mountain, close to the former Dragalevtsi village. It was founded round 1345 by King Ivan Alexander. To consolidate the status of the monastery, Ivan Shishman issued the so called Vitosha Charter in 1378 donating land and giving privileges to the monastery. The church built during that period has survived. It is a modest building with a prolonged naos, an apse and a narthex and is a typical example of the small boyar churches built at that time in Sofia and the region. Soon the monastery became rich and famous and a centre of educational and literary activity.
After a short period of decline connected with the Ottoman oppression, the monastery continued its development after the middle of the 15th c when it was renovated by the boyar Radoslav Mavur. With the money he doted in 1476 the church was decorated with remarkable mural paintings. A vary small number of them have survived in the naos but the original paintings in the narthex are preserved. Unique is the composition ,,Doomsday” situated on several walls and the dome. It includes non-traditional interpretations of scenes – the angel who rolls the sky sprinkled with the signs of the Zodiac into a scroll, the images of the pious women, etc. Very attractive are the portraits of the church donors Radoslav Mavur, his wife Vida and their sons. Also very interesting is the scene from the Old Testament ,,The Hospitality of Abraham” interpreted by the painter in an everyday style attempting in this way to make his art clearer for his contemporaries.
The western facade of the church was painted a little later and on it is partially preserved the image of the Holy Virgin and the three saint -warriors on
horseback – St. Dimiter, St. George and St. Mercury.
In 1932, next to the old church was built a new one, of the same
construction, and the two were connected by a ring gallery and united under a
common roof.
The Dragalivtsi monastery is an important spiritual and educational centre and in the 16th and 17th c it was the centre of the Sofia literary school.
During the struggles for national liberation it was one of the centres of revolutionary activities in Sofia region, especially in the period of Father Superior Genadiy, former standard-bearer in the detachment of Ilyo Voevode and friend of the Apostle Vassil Levski. The same is true of the period of Father Superior Ignatiy Rilski.
The living quarters were constructed much later and are well kept. Because of its closeness to Sofia, the monastery is visited by many worshippers.

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