Arcodica Port

Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo

Hundreds of premises, part of old monasteries, have been cut into the cliffs of Rousse Lom river valley. They have turned the Lom river valley into a center of the Bulgarian spirituality. The largest of them is the Royal Monastery of “St. Archangel Michael”, which have united the power of art and the culture of significant Bulgarian rulers and spiritual leaders. Inside this religious and cultural center are preserved unique frescoes from the 13th and the 14th century. The “St. Archangel Michael” monastery is an important religious center of Orthodoxy, with prominent leaders of the Bulgarian church being related to it. The monastery was founded by the monk Yoakim in the 20s of the 13th century, who was also spiritual mentor of Tsar Ivan Asen II (1218-1241). Tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207) before him, in order to win the Bulgarian clerical independence, entered into Uniat with the Roman Pope, but Tsar Ivan Asen II under the influence of Yoakim returned the Bulgarians into the bosom of Orthodoxy. An independent Bulgarian church was reestablished in 1235 and was headed by Yoakim.

The church “The Holy Mother” is a World Heritage Site because its frescoes – the work of a gifted artist from Tarnovo in 14th century, are one of the best surviving examples of the “Palaeologian” style throughout the entire Medieval Christian art. There are 25 preserved fields with paintings of the ceiling, representing scenes from the Gospel. Their position suggests that the inhabitants of this complex were supporters of “Hesychasm” – a mystical school in Orthodoxy.

Photography: Nikolay Dimitrov

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