Rozhen Monastery

The Rozhen Monastery is located 5 km of Melnik and dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God. Rozhen is the largest monastery in Pirin Mountains in south western Bulgaria and one of the few Medieval Monasteries well preserved until today. The earliest archaeological evidence of medieval life at the Rozhen area is a grave with a few coins and decorations from the time of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos /1259–1282/. Some other items also date to the 13th century, while the marble frieze above the central gate of the Rozhen Monastery church dates to the 13th or 14th century. A couple of new buildings were constructed in the Rozhen monastery at the time of Despot Alexius Slav. The earliest written source testifying to the Rozhen monastery’s existence is a note on a chant book from 1551, today in the Great Laura Library on Mount Athos.

The Rozhen Monastery church was built in an irregular hexagonal shape before the 15th century and painted in 1597. Some of those frescoes are preserved while in 1611, the south facade was painted. The Rozhen Monastery was devastated by fire between 1662 and 1674, destroying the library and severely damaging most buildings. The Rozhen Monastery was restored over the next century with the financial help of rich Bulgarians from the whole country. The reconstruction began in 1715 and was fully finished in 1732. Like other monasteries, and Rozhen Monastery has its miraculous icon, protector (Our Lady), which is stored in the ark in the chapel of St Cosmos and Damian. Rozhen Monastery reached its peak in the 19th century, when it was a regional center of the Orthodox Christianity and possessed numerous properties in the area. Famous Bulgarian revolutionary Yane Sandanski’s grave is located near the Rozhen Monastery.