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Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity

Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity

Saint Trinity Monastery, 5040



The monastery is situated in the Tarnovo Hills on the Middle Fore-Balkan, on a narrow elongated terrace under the majestic rock wreath of the picturesque Dervent Gorge on the right bank of the Yantra river. On the opposite bank of the river is located its twin, the Transfiguration Monastery. Next to the Patriarchal Monastery stand the cliffs of the Arbanasi mountain, part of the foothills of the central Balkan Mountains. The monastery church follows a cross-in-square plan with three domes, which were added later. Blind arches with red brickwork inside decorate the exterior, and a four-columned exonarthex marks the west entrance. The interior decoration and the iconostasis of the church were made by the renown artist Zahari Zograf, who was also painted the frescoes of the Rila Monastery, the Troyan Monastery and the nearby Transfiguration Monastery. At present, the monastery complex includes the main church, residential buildings, chapels dedicated to Jesus Christ and Evtimiy of Tarnovo and a well, as well as the grave of Metropolitan Joseph of Veliko Tarnovo (1870–1918). The monastery has been declared a cultural monument of national importance. It is open for visitors every day from 7am to 7pm, but does not offer food or accommodation.
Evidence of monastic activity in the nearby rock caves can be dated back to the early Middle Ages. According some researchers, the Holy cloister was founded by Bulgarian clerics in the 11th century (1070), during the era of Byzantine domination. Another version is that the cloister was founded in the 14th century after the First Tarnovo Church Council in 1350. According to the third version, the monastery was founded in 1368, when St. Theodosius of Tarnovo left the Kilifar cloister and retired to a cave, about a kilometer north from the old monastery. Soon, more hermits populated the area and created a great monastic community, which built the monastery. The future patriarch Evtimii arrived soon and took over the management of the brotherhood. After the death of St. Theodosius, St. Evtimii became the abbot of the monastery "St. Trinity ". After Evtimiy was elected patriarch in 1375, the cloister acquired the honorary name Patriarchal Monastery. After the fall of Turnovo under Turkish rule on 17 July 1393, the Bulgarian Patriarch was sent to exile in the Bachkovo Monastery, where he passed away between 1402-1404. These events put an end to the monastery's golden era, and by 1416 the Bulgarian Patriarchate had been subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After suffering grave damage from an earthquake, in 1812 a new disaster struck the monastery. It was devastated by a plague epidemic and abandoned. The spiritual abode was restored in 1847 in a location one kilometer south of the old monastery. The new church is the work of master Kolyu Ficheto, the icons of the iconostasis were painted by Zahari Hristovich - Zograf. In its present form, the monastery was restored in 1927, and the residential buildings were built between 1946 and 1948.
The altar of the current church was brought from the Ancient Roman ruins of Nicopolis ad Istrum. In antiquity, it was used as a pagan sacrificial altar. It has an inscription with dedications to Zeus, Hera and Athena and dates to the rule of emperor Antoninus Pius (138–161). At the base of one of the church's columns is another Roman artifact, a provincial border stone from the rule of Hadrian (117–138).
The Bulgarian kings Ivan Alexander and Ivan Shishman were frequent guests of the monastery, seeking the company and advice of St. Theodosius and St. Evtimii. In the late 14th century, the Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity was one of the major hubs of the Tarnovo Literary School, which produced masterpieces such as the Tomić Psalter and the celebrated Tetraevangelia. The later illuminated manuscript has become known as the “London Gospel”, because it is kept in the British Library. It was written in 1355-1356 by monk Simon for the Bulgarian King Ivan Alexander.
- Direct visit - Virtual visit: See the photo galleries in the media resources section. - Discussion: What was the most interesting or surprising thing learned?

Church of SS. Peter and Paul - ул. Митрополска, 5000 g.k. Asenov, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Transfiguration Monastery - 5031 Преображенски манастир




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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.