Etropole monastery

THE ETROPOLE MONASTERY “HOLY TRINITY”

The monastery ,,Holy Trinity”, also called Varovitets, is situated in the northern parts of the Balkan Mountains, at about 5 km off the town of Etropole.

Most probably the monastery already existed during the Second Bulgarian State. We find data about its existence however date from as late as the 16th c and the beginning of the 17th c. This is the period of the establishment of the famous Varovitets literary school. It was the most important educational centre north of the Balkans and one of the spiritual centres which were active in the 17th and the beginning of the 18th c. At that time the monastery housed many literary people who copied books and wrote new ones and then distributed them in other monasteries as well. The manuscripts complied here were richly decorated with calligraphic inscriptions and paintings, with leather bindings and silver casings. Among the famous members of the Varovitets literary and calligraphic school were priest Rafail, dean John, the teacher Koyu, Vasilliy Sofianin, Boycho the Grammarian and others. The most prolific period for the monastery was that of the presence of the priest Danail of Etropole (1620-1640) who left behind tens of handwritten books. The monastery also had a painting centre in which in the 17th and particularly in the 18th c were created numerous icons. Some of these icons depict Bulgarian popular saints like Ivan Rilski, Gavrail Lesnovski, Yoakim Osogovski and others. Some works of goldsmithery are also preserved.

During the Ottoman occupation the monastery was destroyed several times and then rebuilt. A document testifies of the renovation of 1682. The living quarters surrounding the church and the spacious yard were built much later -in 1833. In 1858 the old church was destroyed and in its place Ivan Boyanin from Bratsigovo erected anew beautiful church. It is a cross-domed building of stone with five domes. The central one is larger and the other four are arranged diagonally. The facade is decorated with plastic ornaments here and there. For no obvious reason the church has no mural painting on the inside.

Today almost all of the artistic and literary monuments created in the Etropole monastery are kept in various museums and libraries.

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