Saint Joachim Monastery Osogovo

The gorgeous Osogovo Mountains are located in the northeastern Macedonia, among the cities of Kriva Palanka in the north, Delchevo and Kochani in the south, Probishtip and Kratovo in the west, and its eastern parts are in the territory of Bulgaria. Osogovo Mountains highest point is the peak of Ruen (2252 meters), at the very border between Macedonia and Bulgaria. The Monastery of Saint Joachim of Osogovo, which is considered as one of the most beautiful monasteries in Macedonia is hidden in tranquility and lush forests and greenery of Osogovo Mountains peaks, at the altitude of 825 meters, in the village of Babin Zub, approachable by the winding road.

The anchorite Joachim lived secluded life and performed various miracles in the place called Sarandopor, which means the fourty dales, in the remote Osogovo Mountains cave, like famous anchorites – saints of John of Rila, Prohorus of Pčinja and Gabriel of Lesnovo did. Sometimes around 1105 anchorite Joachim died in his hermitage. Saint Joachim of Osogovo Monastery is also known as the Sarandopor Monastery. During the reign of the Byzantine Tsar Manojlo Comnenus the cult of the Saint Joachim was very strong, when monk Teodor had built a tiny church dedicated to the Birth of the Holy Virgin where he brought the relics of the Saint. The church of Saint Joachim of Osogovo is cross-shaped, with calottes and the eight-sided dome, sitting on the junction of crosses. Only ornamental fragments on the northern side of the altar remained from the oldest layer of frescoes.

Monastery of Saint Joachim of Osogovo is first mentioned during the reign of the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan /1196 – 1207/. In the year of 1330 it was restored by the Serbian King Stefan Dečanski /Stefan of Dečani Monastery/ who stayed here before the famous Battle of Velbužd /present day Kyustendil/. The Turkish sultan Mehmed II also stayed in the Monastery before his military invasion to Bosnia. Devastating earthquake in 1585 significantly destroyed the monastic structures, that were rebuilt by the donation from Russia. Around 1762 the Monastery of Saint Joachim of Osogovo experienced hard times when part of the holy relics disappeared. Turks banned restoration and free celebration of the Christian feasts.

The large church dedicated to Saint Joachim of Osogovo is monumental stone three-nave structure with 12 cupolas, 7 small and 5 big cupolas, which was built by masters of Andrej Damjanov – Zografski with the donation of Stefan Mladenov from Kriva Palanka. Holy relics of Saint Yoakim of Osogovo are located to the right of the church entry. There are some gravestones next to the church. The most impressive wall paintings of Saint Joachim of Osogovo Monastery were executed by Dimitar Andonov Papradishki and date from the recent period. One of the most characteristic frescoes is “The sermon of Saint Paul”, where the hand of the artist carried in it profane elements. On this remarkable fresco of Saint Joachim of Osogovo Monastery the national costume of Kriva Palanka is shining with all its beauty and rusticity. Iconostasis of Saint Joachim of Osogovo Monastery contains two valuable icons, probably painted by Hristo Dimitrov of the Samokovo school of painters. The spring believed by faithful to have medicinal features is situated next to the church.

The Monastery of Saint Joachim of Osogovo encompasses several centrally heated dormitories for accommodation of visitors, with the total capacity of 120 beds, including 6 apartments, that provide pleasant stay throughout the year, and in winter as well. There is the restaurant with 40 seats which offers choice of meals and good quality of service. The meeting hall with 80 seats as the part of the Osogovo monastic complex located in the natural and spiritual ambiance provides good conditions for various events which do not disturb the overall spirituality of the place.

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