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(Preobrazhenski) Transfiguration Monastery, Veliko TarnovoCod 2475

The Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God is located on the banks of the Yantra River, just 6 km from Veliko Tarnovo city. It is the fourth largest monastery in Bulgaria.

It was founded in the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 13-14 century. Originally, the monastery belonged to Vatopedi Monastery located on Athos Mount, but in 1360 it became autonomous. The Transfiguration Monastery is associated with the second wife of Bulgarian King Ivan Alexander – Sarah, and their son Ivan Shishman, who donates a lot of money for its reconstruction and renovation. For this reason, the monastery is also known as Sarin or Shishmanov. It plays an important role in the spiritual life of the Bulgarian capital in the 14th century.
In the last few centuries, The Transfiguration Monastery was situated above 400-500 meters south of the current location. The original location of the monastery was abandoned after its destruction during the conquest of Tarnovo city in the late 14th century. After the collapse of Bulgaria under Ottoman domination the monastery was burned and robbed repeatedly by the Turks and later it was completely destroyed.

The Transfiguration Monastery was rebuilt on the curent location in 1825 by the monk from Rila – Father Zotik, who in the ’20s and ’30s has been the abbot of the monastery. Building the main church has began in 1884 and has been assigned to Dimitar Sofialiyata. The Master was hanged by the Turks, because of his participation in the “Conspiracy of Velchov” in the years of 1834-1835 and by the completion of the church, which occurred in 1837 has dealt Usta Kolyo Ficheto. The inner and outer walls of the temple are decorated with frescoes during the years 1849-1851 by the great Bulgarian artist Zahari Zograf from Samokov city. Continuous development of the Transfiguration Monastery remain active until 1863, when the entire south-east wing with a small living room and large entrance in (1857), The Clock Tower in (1861) and the little church “Annunciation” in (1863) rose under the leadership of Nikola Ficheto. the The Transfiguration Monastery, along with some buildings founded after the Liberation, gets the familiar look of today.
Even in the days of Father Zotik, the Transfiguration Monastery became one of the main cultural and revolutionary centers in Trnovo. From the Velchov Conspiracy in 1835 up to the April Uprising in 1876, here have been gathered the paths of many revolutionaries– Filip Totyu, Angel Kantchev, Popa Hariton and many others. From there, he continued with national activities of his batlefield companion Vasil Levski – Father Matei Schimbatorul, and also the Diacon himself have repeatedly found a shelter within the monastery. The Transfiguration Monastery has played a significant role in the Bulgarian people’s struggle for religious and national independence. During the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation, the monastery was turned into a hospital. As an appreciation, after the Liberation the Russian soldiers have donated the monastery the bells, chandeliers and liturgical books for the church.
In 1991 a part of the cells of the monks from the Transfiguration Monastery have been destroyed after the falling of rocks obove the monastery.

The Transfiguration Monastery – the Wheel of Life, the Frescoes in the church are the artwork of the awesome representative of the School of painting – Zahari Zograf from the city of Samokov and dates from the years 1849-1851. Alongside with his slavic teachers Chiril and Metodiu, Zahari Zograf has painted his portrait and the temple icon “Transfiguration” has his autograph. Very interesting is the big scene “The Last Judgment”, on the East wall of the narthex, where men – the sinners and sin women are represented in civilian suits, and the saucerers and healers in folk costumes from rural areas. Remarcable is the scene the Wheel of Life, written on outer wall of the of the south shrine, that treats an religious-philosophical aspect of the natural development of human life.
The church iconostasis was created in 1838 by a group of wood carvers from the School of Sculpture in the Tryavna city. The schools’ pictographs are the artwork of Zachari Zograf and Stanislav Dospevski. Some of pictographs are known as: ” “The Saint Michael”, “The Saint Maria Miluyushta”, “The Christ Almighty”, “The Transfiguration “, “Ioan Botezătorul”, “The Saint Andrew” and others.

The Holy Transfiguration Monastery operates constantly.

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