THE ARAPOVO MONASTERY , “St. KYRIAKI” (Sveta Nedelya)

It is situated at 8 km off Assenovgrad, not far from the village of Zlatovruh (former Arapovo). As different from most of the other monasteries, it is situated in the fields, near a mineral spring (ayazmo). It was founded in 1856 and soon became a complete monastery complex of living quarters and farm buildings, surrounded by solid stone walls. It is preserved almost in its original from.
In the southern part of the monastery yard rises a three-storey tower related to one of the most famous haidouks of these parts, Angel Voevode. The first two floors are made of stone, with loop-holes, and the third floor, with protruding bay windows, is for the living quarters.
The church of the monastery was built in 1859. With its three naves and three apses, it is covered with stone and is remarkable for its architectural design. The painting of the temple was completed in 1864 and was made by the famous painter of the National Revival Georgi Danchev the Icon-painter (1846-1908) and his teacher Alexi Atanassov. The mural paintings cover the whole of the interior – walls, arches and dome. Many of the scenes and images speak of the rich spiritual culture of the Bulgarian people and the glorious past of the Bulgarian State and Church. The patriotic touch of the pieces is an expression of the national upheaval so characteristic of the period.
Remarkable are the ten scenes telling about the deeds of the great Slavic teachers Cyril and Methodius. They present the conversion of King Boris I, the preaching of the two brothers and so on. The costumes contain everyday elements – the peasants, for example, are dressed in local folk costumes. The architecture also contains local elements.
There are also ten scenes from the life of the saint Ivan Rilski, scenes from the life of the patron of the monastery St. Kyriaki, of the father of monkhood St. John the Baptist and of St. Paraskeva, particularly respected in these parts.
Outside the yard of the monastery, by the northern door, is the spring of healing water over which is built a small chapel. The mural paintings in it are from 1870 and illustrate the life of St. Kyriaki and scenes similar to those in the major temple – the life and deeds of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius and some evangelical scenes.
There was a school and a printing workshop. The monastery was an important cultural and educational centre in this part of Bulgaria.
The monastery is functioning today. You can reach it easily if you start from Assenovgrad.

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