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Colton , 12.03.2017
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Location of the monastery:
The Aladzha rock monastery is situated only a few kilometers south of the Riviera Holiday Club sea resort and 2 km of Golden Sands seaside resort. It is also a part of the Golden Sands Nature Park. The distance to Varna is only 16 km.
The Aladzha rock monastery can be reached easily from the city of Varna and Golden Sands coastal resort both by car and bus.
History of the monastery:
Aladzha Monastery was established 11-12th century when the hermits first inhabited it. However, its caves were inhabited early in the Byzantine period, as the monastery was under the influence of a religious teaching which was spread in Byzantine and Bulgaria at that time.
The first archaeological finds, coins and pottery pieces were found in the caves.
The religious movement taught about the energy of God - "isichasm" or "hesychasm" (a religion with a main principle of silence and of isolation from the society).
Under the influence of ‘isichasm’ the holy rock cloister experienced its heyday during the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.
The life in Aladzha Monastery declined when Bulgaria fell under Ottoman Rule.
The name of Aladzha Monastery comes from the word of Turkish origin for colourful ("aladjha", ” aladja”) due most probably to the bright colours of its wall paintings, dating back to the early Middle Ages.
Presumably all unique creations and frescoes in the monastery by the monks must have been bursting with colour at one time.
Differently coloured incredible frescoes dated back to 13th-14th century can be still seen on the walls of Aladzha Monastery, but only few of them are preserved.
The monastery's history fascinates all its visitors who always come back again.
Unforgettable journey through history and religion!
Aladzha Monastery was declared a national monument of culture and antiquity.
Architecture and present condition:
Nowadays Aladzha Monastery does not function, no monks live there and it is turned into a monument of culture and a museum.
Due to demolition and tectonic processes, the present appearance and condition of the monastery is a bit different from its original one. At present, the remains of 20 residential premises and three churches, which were cut out on two levels in the almost 40-meter high limestone rock and connected via an external staircase dug into the rocks, will fascinate the visitor.
The lower floor hosted the monks' private cells, common rooms (i.e. kitchen, dining room) and a small church, while the upper level was dedicated entirely to a chapel.
At the most eastern side of the first level is the entrance of the monastery. At the far end of the entrance hall, behind a stone wall, part of which still exists was the crypt (tomb). Left to the entrance there is a cut in the rock staircase, leading to an inside corridor and to the refectory, the kitchen and six monks cells. Immediately above the entrance and the crypt there was a chapel. Similar to other Orthodox churches this one has also been decorated with frescoes, but unfortunately most of them are damaged. The second level of the monastery was a natural niche hosting the chapel in its east side.
The other two chapels in Aladzha Monastery are located in the end of each of the floors. The one most preserved is on the last level. It is curious to know that only at that place well-preserved murals dated back to 14th centuries can be found. Interesting fragments of five monks’ figures are decorated on the south wall. The ornament on the ceiling is even better preserved, in its centre is depicted Jesus on Throne with wide decorated frame and bright aureole. Four figures of flying angels surround the main mural.
Katakombite (the catacombs) are a group of caves that share a similar history to those of Aladja Monastery, but have suffered even more during the tough times, now being in an even worse condition than well preserved monastery. They are located less than a km away to the west from Aladja monastery. Archaeologists have found pottery and coins there that prove that the Catacombs were inhabited in the Early Christianity period between the fourth and sixth century.
Accommodation in the monastery:
There is no accommodation available in Aladzha Monastery.
However, there is a wide choice of lodgings in the nearby resorts of Golden Sands and St.Konstantin and Elena.
Places of interest in the region::
One can also visit an interesting tomb dated back to the Early Christianity period, painted with amazing murals, in the village of Osenovo near Aladzha Monastery.
Colton for Aladzha Monastery, 12.03.2017
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