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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Glozhene Monastery of St. George the Victorious

Updated: Jun 11

My dear friends, today we will make a journey to another impressive and majestic Bulgarian antiquity, which has not been destroyed since its establishment (1230). This is Glozhene Orthodox Monastery of St. George the Victorious.

How to get here?

The Glozhene Orthodox Monastery of St. George the Victorious is located on the northeastern slope below the stone plummets of Kamen Lisets Peak (1073 meters high), on a rocky outcrop on a mountain hill descending from it.

Once the access to the entrance of the monastery was blocked by rocks that are broken, and deep ravines descend from its other sides. In this way it can be seen from afar as perched on a rock, which distinguishes it from other Bulgarian monasteries, usually built in secret and well-hidden places.

Today it leads to a narrow but good road, the turnoff to which is located just before the village of Malak Izvor, traveling on the road Yablanitsa - Teteven, in case you want to reach it by car.

Immediately before the monastery there are two separate parking lots - one after the other. There is also a parking fee.

If you want to walk the road to the monastery, and take an extremely pleasant walk, then go to the village of Glozhene, where a small trail starts just behind the stadium of Glozhene. The road is again Yablanitsa - Teteven and entering the village of Glozhene, you will cross a bridge over the river Vit, immediately turn right, then drive straight ahead, and at the end of the village turn right again, crossing the bridge over the river again. Right there is the stadium, behind which a narrow, paved road begins. You can leave your car in the same place. Continue on the way up and you will soon see the first information board indicating the trail to the monastery.

The Glozhene Orthodox Monastery of St. George the Victorious is an impressive cultural monument and is part of the Lovech Diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

It offers more than impressive panoramas in all directions.

The Glozhene Monastery has always reminded me a lot, both in terms of location and overall vision, of the Meteora monastery complex in Greece. It turns out that ours is both older and higher. The seven monasteries of Meteora were built around the middle and end of the XIV century, and are located at about 400 meters above sea level.

It was probably founded in the early 13th century. The year 1230 is mentioned on the sign at the entrance of the monastery.

There is a legend that George Glozh, a prince of Kiev, who came to Bulgaria fleeing the Tatar invasions, helped Tsar Ivan Assen II to overthrow the ascended Boril, who in gratitude offered him land here.

A settlement called Glozhene was founded on this land.

On an inaccessible, high cliff above the village Glozh built a monastery, which looks more like a medieval castle.

It is a historical fact that Ivan Assen II regained his father's throne after about ten years of exile mainly in Russian lands, leaving Kyiv in 1217, with the help of Russian (Kiev) troops, and that they at least partially remained in Bulgaria.

Probably the land was part of the personal possessions of one of the royal family Asenevtsi and the names in the area are related to the donations that Ivan Asen II made to the Glozhene Monastery. In all cases, the toponymy of the region is associated with the times of Asenevtsi: the forest Azanitsa (Asenitsa) near Glozhene, the neighborhood Asen, near the ancient fountain Tsarichin (royal).

There is no information about the history of the monastery after the fall of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and during the Ottoman invasion.

It is remarkable that neither the building, nor the church, nor even the tower, have been purposefully destroyed during these long centuries. On the one hand, its inaccessible location is probably one of the reasons for this, on the other - the lack of strategic importance.

The years between the 16th and 17th centuries turned out to be difficult for the monastery, but then there was a rise.

At the end of the XVIII and the beginning of the XIX century the monastery has wide connections all over Bulgaria and even in Romania and Russia, as evidenced by its kondiki. Two old seals from those times have been preserved, in which it is called the Kiev Monastery. He is known to have owned many manuscripts and old printed books.

During the dark ages of slavery, a number of class schools were opened. It is believed that the school in the monastery itself has existed since its founding and has continued to train novices for monks, priests and teachers with short breaks until the Liberation. The monks themselves were teachers, and they used church books as textbooks.

During the trembling preparation for the April Epic, the Glozhene Monastery is one of the safest refuges for Vasil Levski. Moreover, the good friendships of his close associate Hadji Euthymius around the area helped establish committees in the area. The abbot himself and the monk, priest Cyril, are members of the Glozhene Private Revolutionary Committee. The first revolutionary district was created in this region.

Even today you can see the preserved shelter of Levski - under his cell there was an underground tunnel, dug during the construction of the monastery.

All visits of the deacon to the monastery are kept in the deepest secrecy.

In 1904 an earthquake caused serious damage.

In 1908, with the efforts of the monks, the cells were restored and the tunnel in front of the church was built, which is still wooden.

But nature is ruthless to this centuries-old Bulgarian fortress and in 1913 another powerful earthquake caused debris from the cliff on which the north wall of the church rests, as a result of which in 1915 the north wall and parts of the the south wall partially collapsed.

Years of decline followed.

In 1929 a new church was built about two meters to the south, which was consecrated in 1931. The monastery tower, which withstood the earthquakes, was also destroyed in order to expand the monastery yard.

And here is another surprise - during the clearing of the debris, a tomb carved into the rock was found inside the church itself, under its floor at the base of the north wall. A skeleton of a very tall and large man was found in a coffin made of solid oak planks. The silver buttons on the outer garment are gilded. No other tomb was found in or around the church, and no one knew anything before it was discovered. As it dates from the time the church was built, it is assumed that either its founder, Prince Glozh, or another prominent person was buried there.

And as an ending, I will introduce you the well-known and so photogenic, and quite nice, the cat of the monastery ;)

I wish you an exceptional and impressive walk!

And as an ending,

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