THE LOZEN MONASTERY ,,ST. SPAS”

The monastery is near the city of Sofia in the slopes of Lozen Mountain, under peak Polovrak and at about 3 km off the village of Dolni Lozen.
According to the legend, it originated in the 13th c and was destroyed in 1382 when the Turks conquered the Urvich fortress and Sofia. It remained deserted for a long time and was restored in the 17th c for which there are written data (from 1671 and 1694). It turned into a spiritual centre of the region but was destroyed again.
For the last time the monastery was restored in 1821 when the present church was built – one-nave, one-apse church with an elongated naos. In 1847 the interior of the church was painted with the donations of Father Superior Kiriak. After the Turkish government allowed the Bulgarians to build higher churches, in 1868 Master Tsvyatko Todorov reconstructed the arch and erected three domes as an expression of the rising national self-confidence of the Bulgarians. A year later the painter from Samokov Nikola Obrazopisov and two of his students painted the church again. In addition to scenes of the life and sufferings of Christ, they also depicted many scenes from the life of St. Ivan Rilski and the images of many Bulgarian saints and prominent historical figures like King Boris I, Patriarch Evtimiy, Cyril and Methodius and of popular saints of the region – Georgi Sofiyski, Nikola Sofiyski, Constantine Sofiyski. One can rarely see such a pantheon of Bulgarian historical and spiritual figures.
The mural paintings have bright colours, they are well preserved and inspire admiration. One can detect the influence of West European painting, like for example the characters form scenes situated in a natural and the usual conventional environment. There are also other elements not typical of orthodox iconography – the figure of Jesus in ,,Holy Paschal”. The artistic qualities of the paintings make the church a valuable monument of culture and art.
The Lozen monastery is known also for its rich literary activity developed by educators like Gramatik Nikola, Roman Zagorets and some others.
The monastery commands a magnificent view of the Sofia Plain and the Balkan Mountains.

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