Kilifarevo Monastery “The Nativity of Mother of God”
Orthodox name:The Nativity of Virgin Mary
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The Kilifarevo Monastery lies in a beautiful forest on the banks of the Belitsa River, about 4km southeast of the town of Kilifarevo and only 14km from the Veliko Turnovo town.
The Kilifarevo Monastery is located near the main road starting from the town of Kilifarevo to the town of Gurkovo as the turn to the holy cloister is several kilometers after Kilifarevo (12km).
The Kilifarevo Monastery “The Nativity of Virgin Mary” is established in 1348 from the renowned Bulgarian clergyman, Teodosii Turnovski with the generous support of the Bulgarian ruler Ivan Aleksander. Teodosii became an abbot in the monastery and turned it into one of the most significant educational and literal centre of the Orthodox Hesychasm. Various kinds of liturgical books, biographies, sermons and secular chronicles have been written for years in the monastery. The holy cloister has become a centre of the literary school which boasted 460 students in 1360, the most distinguished of who were the future Bulgarian Patriarch Evtimii , Romil Vidinski and the future Kiev and Moscow’s metropolitan bishop Kyprian. When the Ottoman invasion reached Turnovo, the monastery has been enforced with walls and battle towers. Personally the king Ivan Alexander made donations for the construction of the main tower and a new church. Notwithstanding, after the fall of Turnovo from power, the newly-strengthened monastery has been devastated by the Turks.
The name of Kilifarevo monastery was mentioned in the annals in 1442 and all survived rebels from the Second Turnovo Revolt found their shelter in it in 1596. That was the reason why the monastery was conflagrated by the Turks and its fortress walls have been destroyed completely. A monastery has no longer been restored at that place.
The Kilifarevo Monastery was erected on its present place on the banks of the river Belitsa in 1718, just above the old monastery. During that time the richly decorated church “The Nativity of Holy Mother” and its s its two chapels have been built in honour of Ivan Rilski and Teodosii Turnovski. A part of the monastery was destroyed in the end of 18th century during the Kurdzhali raids, but soon after it was renovated. Kolyo Ficheto, an eminent Bulgarian master began the construction of the nowadays church “St. Dimitar” in 1840. He has kept a part of the old alter wall and the two chapels. The temple was finished in the 1842,, while the internal decoration was completed a year later. The Kilifarevo Monastery has been turned into a convent in 1950.
Architecture and present condition:
The Kilifarevo Convent is fully operational and it includes a church, residential and farming buildings. Kolyo Fitcheto, the famous Bulgarian master from the period of Bulgarian Revival, started the construction of the third church in the Kilifarevo Monastery. He has kept a part of the old altar walls and the two chapels, dedicated to St.Teodosii and St.Ivan Rilski. Hence, the three premises were united under one roof and the present appearance of the nowadays one-domed basilica “St.Dimitur” has been formed. The temple was finished in 1842 as its internal area was divided in the shape of cross. Most of the frescoes are located in the two chapels and they date back to 1718. Gospel depicting scenes are situated in the upper parts, whereas the lower row is occupied with figures in full-length. The figures of the Archangel Gavril and Virgin Mary are depicted on both sides of the altar. The mural paintings in the Kilifarevo Monastery are typical for the beginning of 18th century since stiffness and disproportion of the poses and gestures of the characters is perceived.
The gold-plated iconostasis, a masterpiece, created in 1843 by two woodcarvers, Tsonyo and Simeon Vassilevi, a father and a son from Tryavna town, is preserved till the present day.
The iconostasis represents a golden masterpiece, done by two woodcarvers, Tsonyo and Simeon Vassilevi – a father and a son from the town of Tryavna. Bsides the ocnostasis, the visitor is also impressed by the icons of the Tryavna iconpainters Dosyu Koev, Simeon Simeonov, Yonko Popvitanov.
Besides the iconostasis, the icons of the Tryavna iconpainters Dosyu Koev, Yonko Popvitanov impress the visitor of the Kilifarevo Monastery. The most famous icon, though, is the one depicting the secluded life of the hermit Ivan Rilski. The monastery’s complex consists of other two beautiful two-storey residential buildings in the authentic style of the Bulgaria’s Revival period.
Telephone number of the monastery:+359/International code for dialling Bulgaria/ 6114 2480
The Kilifarevo monastery offers accommodation. Rooms with a bathroom and a separateWC are available, as well as rooms without a bathroom and WC. The visitor may have a meal in a mehana (i.e. pub) just 500 m from the monastery’s gates.
Places of interest in the region:
The fortress “Tsarevets” is located 14km away from the Kilifarevo monastery, 20km from the picturesque village of Arbanassi. Both of them are included in the list of the 100 Bulgaria’s historical places.