There are many fascinating sites in this part of the world (Eastern Europe), and the Rock Hewn Churches of Ivanovo can be categorized as fascinating in my book. I have been to hundreds of churches, cathedrals, convents, and monasteries during my travels; but this church that was hewn out of solid rock in beautiful Bulgaria was memorable for me. Just looking up at the impressive rock face in awe, and noting the built in staircases, doorways, arched windows, and 700 year old frescoes was fascinating to me- just fascinating.
My driver had been on the road for a few hours since we were coming in from Romania, and the drive was beautiful. I have traveled throughout all of Eastern Europe, and have always enjoyed the variety of vibrant landscapes this part of the world has to offer. We drove past lush green forests, and tree lined roads to get the church, which blended seamlessly into the natural surroundings.
The climb up to the church was easy with the steps and a handrail, so those who are capable of climbing stairs should not have a problem. Once I reached the top, I floated through the various rooms inside the rock face. They were decorated with 13th to 14th Century Frescoes, carved woodwork, ornate gold fixtures, and religious art. It was beautiful to see, but more wonderous in my mind of the creation of this church in the 1300s.
These churches of Ivanovo comprise a group of monolithic religious building that are hewn out of solid rock. From the 1300s until the 17th century, hermits and monks inhabited the caves in the region, where they hewed churches and chapels out of solid rock. During the peak of the monastery complex, there were about 40 churches in the area. In other premises there were about 300, which are mostly not preserved today.
These Rock Hewn Churches are most noted for their vibrant and well-preserved medieval frescoes. The frescoes date back to the 13th- and 14th-century, which are preserved in five of the churches, and are noted as fine examples of Bulgarian mediaeval art. There are also several centuries-old inscriptions that have been preserved on the monastery premises, which includes the famous indented inscription of the monk Ivo Gramatik from 1308-1309.
In 1979, the Rock Hewn Churches of Ivano were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “In the valley of the Roussenski Lom River, in north east Bulgaria, a complex of rock-hewn churches, chapels, monasteries and cells developed in the vicinity of the village of Ivanovo. This is where the first hermits had dug out their cells and churches during the 12th century. The 14th-century murals testify to the exceptional skill of the artists belonging to the Tarnovo School of painting.” – UNESCO Website
🌎 For visiting information, please visit – Ivanovo Rock Churches – City of Ruse
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre