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St. Ivan Rilski Monastery, ChiprovtsiCod 2157

“St. Ivan Rilski” Monastery in Chiprovtsi is located on the valley of the river Chiprovska Augusta, about five kilometers northeast of the town of Chiprovtsi. The monastery is a detour on the road between the villages Belimel and Fier. According to Petar Bogdan Bakshich in his book “Description of Bulgaria” (1640), the existence of the monastery dates back to the years of the First Bulgarian Empire. After the conquest of the country by the Turks, it was repeatedly destroyed and devastated by invaders and again was raised by patriotic Bulgarian people, each time in a different place. Chiprovski first monastery was destroyed in 1404 during the uprising of Constantine Fruzhin in the second half of the eighteenth century. Nearby lies the village Klissura approximately in the place where the current monastery is now. There were serious consequences of the second attack over the monastery, after the repression of the uprising Chiprovo 1688. Then it was, also destroyed the richest monastery library which contained valuable slavic books and icons. Catholic population in Bulgaria was forced to emigrate, and the monastery was abandoned. Shortly after that at the end of the eighteenth century or the beginning of the eighteenth century has been restored and thus was increased the spiritual activity. Its embassies have repeatedly visited Russia. During one of his visits to the embassy of the monastery, in 1800, Russian Emperor Paul I (1796-1801) gave to the monastery, as a gift, a gospel with impressive size and decorated with silver. Rampaging Horde’s of Pasha Yusuf in Berkovitsa, in 1806 destroyed and devastated again the monasteryin Chiprovtzi. Renovated by Bulgarian population in 1818, just ten years later – in 1828, was again destroyed by the Turks.
Because of the participation of the Vidin region population in battles for the liberation from Ottoman rule, the monastery was devastated twice by invaders. In 1835 the monastery in Chiprovski became the center Buna. On 16th May of the same year, were gathered here 3,000 insurgents. Along with the ceasefire also ended and the Turkish leadership which saved the monastery from a new destruction. Two years later, when, in 1837, under the leadership of Varban Popov (Rodie Varbanovo uprising), the population was outraged again, the monastery suffered greatly. In 1876, during the uprising in April, it was burned again, and near the monastery are established Khitov and Totyu fighting detachments.
In the years of Ottoman rule, Chiprovski monastery was an important spiritual, religious and education centre for Bulgarians in this region. Here was a training school for monks, teachers and priests in the area. In the years and the days of the events in September 1923, the monastery’s abbot was Yoasaf (secular name is Ivan Manev), which was filmed in Chiprovtsi market.Currently the Chiprovski monastery is a permanent complex of churches, having two chapels, three-level bell tower, residential rooms and farm buildings.
The Monastery Church “St. Ivan Rilski” was built in 1829. In its architectural form, the construction plan distinguishes it from most of the other churches, mainly, because of those two small lateral apses, which inside have a triangular shape. Its internal space was assigned to the nave and altar room, separated by the iconostasis. The exterior west wall is plastic diversified, with two single niches in which are listed images of the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Throughout the stone roof of the church is a small octahedral cylindrical dome. The interior walls are smooth, plastered with lime, and never seem to have murals. Eight massive pilasters, united by arches support the cylindrical vault of the church.
In the north-east part of the monastery’s courtyard there is a stone tower in which are kept the bones of the heroes which fought in the Chiprovtsi Uprising (1688). The board at the ossuary entrance, glorifies the name of Tolstoy, George Peyachevich from the village of Mancho Puning in Bistrilitsa, Varban Penev of the village Belimel, Khitov and Totyu. The current buildings of the monastery were built after the Liberation. In the eastern part of the church, on the second floor was built a small chapel – “St. Athanasius”.
Beginning with 2005, was started the construction of a new wing of the complex, which will be used mainly to accommodate the pilgrims but not as a hotel.

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