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Preobrazhenie Monastery, Veliko Tarnovo

The monastery bells, gift from Russian soldiers

The monastery bells, gift from Russian soldiers

Preobrazhenie (Holy Transfiguration of God) Monastery is located 7 km from Veliko Tarnovo and is the largest monastery in the area. It is established during the rule of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331 – 1371).

In medieval times, the monastery was located about 400 – 500 m south of its current location, as evidenced by archaeological research.

During the Ottoman rule the monastery was burned down a few times and eventually abandoned  and destroyed.

In 1825 after receiving permission from Sultan Mahmud Han II, a patriotic monk, father Zoticus of Rila Monastery, started to rebuild the monastery at its current location.

The construction of the main church “Transfiguration of Christ” started in 1834 by master-builder Dimitar Sofiyaliyata and was finished by the famous builder Kolyu Ficheto. The internal and external walls of the church were decorated  with frescoes between 1849 – 1851 by the great Bulgarian painter Zahari Zograph. Among the most impressive frescoes are The Last Judgement and The Wheel of Life.

In 1861 Kolyu Ficheto built the  seven-bell belfry with the clock. Two years later he built the small Annunciation church on top of the underground St. Andrew chapel.

During the Russo-Turkish Liberation War (1877 – 78) the monastery was converted into a military hospital. After the Bulgarian Liberation in 1878, the Russian  soldiers showed their gratitude by donating the bells, chadeliers and liturgical books for the church.

Currently the monastery is a functioning friary. Together with the invaluable frescoes, it possesses pricelss old books and icons. The monastery holiday is celebrated on August 6.

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