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Lyaskovets Monastery, LyaskovetsCod 2526

Monastery of St. Peter and Paul was built on a rock at the eastern end of the Arbanasi plateau, at an altitude of 439 meters. It is above 1,5 km south of Lyaskovets and 6 km north-east from Veliko Tarnovo. Now the monastery is a nunnery.

The exact date when the monastery was built is unknown. The approximate dating is the result of indirect sources of information. Most likely it was built in the first decades of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, the Asan and Peter’s dynasty.
The medieval monastery now operates as a nunnery. According to the scientists it was built around the 15th century.

Lyaskovets Monastery (also called Petropavlovsk) is one of the 14 monasteries built around the city of Tarnovo during the Second Bulgarian Empire. According to the legend, the monastery was built during the brothers Peter and Asan on the current location on the hill where once was a fortress. Here the evolt in 1185 for the liberation of Bulgaria under Byzantine rule was prepared. The Asenovtsi built a monastery in gratitude to the uprising that was a success.

After the fall of the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria, the Lyaskovets monastery was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In the 60s, the 17th century, the Monastery was turned over the Greeks “hands”, the Bulgarian monks being expelled. As a result, the Bulgarian public opposition to this measure had suscces and the Greek monks were expelled from the monastery. In the 18th century the Lyaskovets Monastery kept in touch with the Russian Orthodox monasteries, and as a proof of this stands the gold gospel donated by the the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, the gospel which is now in the Church-Museum of History in Sofia.
During the Ottoman rule, the Petropavlovska Monastery actively participated in the national liberation struggles of Bulgarian people and behind the walls are organised several revolutionary uprisings, which are explained by its proximity to the ancient capital and difficult access to the monastery. In 1700 here is prepared the uprising of the widow Mara, led by her son Stoyan alongside with Mircho from Wallachia. Among the conspirators are Sofronii the abbot of the monastery. In 1856 the Captain Nicholas led 13 rebels in the mountains, and in 1862 again gather here around 70 rebels led by Hadji Stavri. The Riot (riot of Hadzhistavrev) fails, the monks are imprisoned, and the abbot Hadji Theodosius and his brother Hadji Yoasaf – are exiled in Diyarbakir.

Under the leadership of Stambolov, Lyaskovets monastery was transformed into a madhouse and then to prison, where, the Metropolitan Kliment was exiled. In 1902-1912 the monastery was turned into a shelter for mentally ill people. One year later, an earthquake destroyed the church of the monastery, the eastern wing and several other buildings. Only the new building of the theological seminary, built by Master Usta Manu in Dryanovo survives and, still retained its authentic look.

Between 1918 and 1922 the Lyaskovets Monastery hosted 60 Russian refuges, and after they left the monastery, it became a nunnery. From 1925 to 1928 here works, a religious school of singing. In the 1937, the monastery became a house-workshop for deaf boys but closed in 1945. In 1947, the Bishop Sofronii again restores the monastery of nuns.

The stories orally transmitted, the predominant source of information on it, have caused the spread of legends, in the absence of precise information about the foundation and early existence of the monastery St. Peter and Paul. For some, of them, evidence can be found, but none is fully confirmed.

According to one of them, the Monastery was built arounf the 1450 by the rich man called Pavonan in Arbanasi (or Pavonyan). He raised it on his land, with his own funds and donated its vineyards, meadows and forests of his property. Later this rich man migrated to Wallachia and from there he was sending to monastery salt, cattle and money, every year. Similarly, his successors have proceeded almost till 1770, when the abbot Dionysius, because difficult times and circumstances, also went to Wallachia, taking with him all the monastery documents.
With their help, he managed to build there another monastery, with the same name and to convince the heirs to give it the annual alms.

There is some evidence that from capturing the Tarnovo Kingdom, the Lyaskovets Monastery and the Holy Trinity Monasteru enjoyed the Turkish patronage. Based on some archival documents it has reached the conclusion that in the nineteenth century the monastery became the most flourishing monastery both economically and spiritually.

The first Bulgarian abbot Maxim Rajkovic leaves the position of professor in Lyaskovets in 1838 and with the support of owners Lyaskovets, was appointed abbot of the monastery. The Monastery acquired great fame, After in 1873 the Tarnovo Bishop Ilarion Makariopolski took the initiative to create a religious school there. The first superior theological school in Bulgaria was opened on 12 May 1874. Curator and rector was Nedyu JEKOVA.

As the first university in the country during the Ottoman rule, it attracts the students all around the Bulgaria, successfully develops and became a center of Bulgarian culture and identity. By Liberation, the school operates as students association ” Know thyself” which has a library, which later became a library with a large collection of books at the University of Sofia. The School has ended its academic activities in June 25th, 1877, whenRussian troops entered Veliko Tarnovo. After liberation, the school gets back into harness as the State School of Petropavlovska. Rector became Metropolitan Kliment – the writer Vasil Drumev. In 1884 the buildings were restored with funds granted by Prince Dondukov-Korsakov. By 1886, the school was called “Petropavlovsk Seminar”, which is the precursor to the current Theological Seminary. In 1925, at the initiative of Bulgarian Patriarch was opened the “The Petropavlovska Singing School”, which operates until 1928.
During Ottoman rule around the monastery was organised a a great market in gratitude to the day of monastery – Sf. Peter. These markets continued after Liberation and First World War. Today, the tradition is renewed.

During the years of Ottoman rule, the monastery became several times the starting point of revolts against Turkish leadership. The earliest armed rebellion attempt was in 1700 (25.04), also known as “Mara widow Revolt”. The organizers were the widow Mara, her son Stoyan and Mircho. The Sofronii trained rebels arrived at the monastery as pilgrims along with 1,500 rebels under the leadership of Stoyan. From here they went to the mountians. After initial success against sent posse, the uprising was brutally suppressed.

Another rebellion which started from Lyaskovets monastery is that of Captain Grandfather Nikola- in July 28, 1856. With the blessing of the convent brothers, a detachment of 13 people led by Nikola Filipovski go from the monastery in the mountains, pursued by the posse of 300 people. The decisive battle is given around the bridge “Shipka”. Then the band went to Triavna. Nikola Filipovski a was murdered in the “Donchovtsi” neighbordhood.

In 1862 the troop led by Hadji Stavri Voinov, departs from the monastery of Tarnovo. Stavrev Hadji’s rebellion was prepared with the help of monks and abbot Hadji Yoasaf, who led a detachment of 70 people at the monastery of Kapinovo. There, however, due to lack of support, the detachment was scattered. Many rebels were captured, judged and killed. The abbot was exiled together with his brother in Diyarbakir, where he died.

The Monastery has now more buildings, one of which is the steeple. It has 31 meters. It was restored in 1980. Its foundations are the old tower, destroyed by the earthquake in 1913. This old steeple, in its turn, was built on the site of a Roman camp.
The monastery has a small chapel – St. Trinity. This church is built on the site of St. Peter and Paul Church, built along with the monastery hermitage (according to some sources of XIIth century by Bulgarian kings Peter and Asen). This Church was, also, demolished by the earthquake in 1913. In the courtyard there is also the Sf. Peter and Pavel Church.

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