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Basarbovo Monastery

Basarbovo Monastery

Basarbovo Monastery, 7071 Basarbovo, Bulgaria



Basarbovo Monastery is a Rock-hewn Eastern Orthodox monastery near the city of Ruse in north-eastern Bulgaria. It is situated in the rocks of the picturesque valley of the Roussenski Lom River. The pathway, along which one can go to the monastery, passes through a beautiful yard full of greenery and ends by a well, dug by St. Dimitrius. The local people believe that the water in the well is curative. The religious complex consists of a rock chapel, hermitages, residential buildings, a bell tower and a crypt. At its heart is the rock niche where the Bulgarian Saint Dimitar Basarbowski spent most of his life in solemn prayers. Some of the hermitage cells are painted with frescoes. In the yard of the monastery, there is the well dug by the saint himself. The water in it is holy and is considered to be healing. The rock church and its premises west of it are carved at a height of 8-9 m in the vertical rock. A stone ladder with 48 steps leads to them. The church, fully carved in the rock, has a rectangular plan and has a size of 4.50 x 8.60 m. In its eastern part, a deep semicircular apse is cut. The entrance of the temple is from the west and its southern wall is stone-built upon the resumption of the monastery in the 1930s, similar to the original medieval monastery. The interior of the temple was not painted with frescoes but has a simple carved iconostasis. There is a large icon of Saint Dimitar Basarbowski from 1803, where the holy man is depicted in full stature and around him ten scenes of his life with inscriptions in Cyrillic and Greek are depicted. Today Basarbovo Monastery is the only active rock-hewn monastery in Bulgaria. In 1978 it was declared an archaeological monument of culture of local importance.
Basarbovo Monastery is one of the myriad rock-hewn monasteries that existed in the valley of the Rusenski Lom River and its tributaries during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (XII-XIV c.). Ivan Bessarab is considered to be the benefactor of the monastery, which was the reason for his foundation and gave the name of the monastery and the settlement near him - Besarbovo. Ivan Bessarab was the father-in-law of King Ivan Alexander (1331-1371), the father of his first wife, Theodora. The greatest prosperity of the rock-hewn monasteries in the Bulgarian lands was connected to Hesychasm - a mystical current in Orthodox Christianity, whereby the monks sought unity with God by means of intensified prayer and spiritual practice. In the 15th-16th centuries the reverend Sophronius of Bulgaria lived here. The most famous inhabitant and eternal abbot of the monastery is the 17th century Bulgarian Saint Dimitar Basarbowski. After his death, he became the patron saint of the holy cloister. For some time during the 19th century the monastery was left uninhabited, but in 1937 the priest Hrisant of the Transfiguration monastery settled here and revived the spiritual center once again.
Saint Dimitar Basarbowski was a hermit, who led a simple life of piety and asceticism. He was canonized after many testaments of the miraculous powers of his mortal remains were gathered. In 1774 the Russian General Pyotr Saltykov took the relics from the local church transfer them to Russia. The road passed through Romania. At that time, the country was devastated by a plague epidemic. According to the legend, when the saint's relics entered Bucharest, people stopped dying from the plague. The residents of the town convinced the General to leave the saint's body there. Today his relics are located in Bucharest in the St. St. Constantine and Helena Church.
Basarbovo Monastery was a major center of hesychasm. This mystical doctrine exalted the spiritual essence of man by solitude and self-absorption. It was officially accepted by the Eastern Orthodox church in the 14th century. The spiritual practices of the devotees include extreme asceticism, physical postures, breathing exercises and fasting. The goal was to enter a state of deep contemplation and perfect the art of uninterupted prayer. The lasting influence of hesychasm can be traced to later brands of ascetic mysticism in Eastern Orthodox Christianity such as the Elders. The monastery celebrates its patron saint on October 26th.
-- Direct visit - Virtual visit: See the photo galleries in the media resources section. - Discussion: What was the most interesting or surprising thing learned?

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.