The Transfiguration Monastery “St. Transfiguration of the Lord “is a Bulgarian monastery (former Stavropigial) in the Veliko Turnovo Diocese, located in the Derventa Gorge of the Yantra River – a beautiful rocky area, 7 km north of Veliko Tarnovo.
The Transfiguration Monastery is the largest of the monasteries located around Veliko Tarnovo and the fourth largest in Bulgaria. It was founded in the time of the Second Bulgarian State in the 13th-14th centuries. Initially the monastery was a monastery of the Vatopedi monastery in Sveta Gora, but in 1360 it gained autonomy. masters – Zahari Zograf and Mouth Kolyo Ficheto.
For three years (1849-1851), the Samokov icon-painter Zacharius Zograf painted murals and icons in the main monastery church. Most prominently, on the south outer wall of the altar apse, he paints the monumental murals “The Last Judgment” and “The Wheel of Life” to impress visitors on the transience of human existence. The frescoes “Nativity of the Virgin”, “The Assumption of the Virgin”, “The Last Supper” are also valuable. Next to the images of St. St. Cyril and Methodius also painted his self-portrait. All the magnificent exterior decoration today is a valuable monument of the fine art of the Renaissance era. The gilded iconostasis is also a monument of the Bulgarian carving art.
From 1858 to 1863 Kolio Ficheto built the bell tower, part of the residential buildings and the main monastery entrance. The underground chapel “St. Andrew the First Callers” was also built. In 1863 the small church of the Annunciation was completed on it, also by Kolio Ficheto. The icons in the church are the work of Zahari Zograf’s successor – the first academically educated Bulgarian artist Stanislav Dospevski. In the western part of the monastery complex stands the bell tower with the seven bells, one of the finest bell towers, created by master Kolyu Ficheto. (Http://pravoslavieto.com)
The appearance of the Transfiguration Monastery is connected with the personality of the second wife of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan-Alexander – Sarah and their son Tsar Ivan Shishman, who donate many funds for its reconstruction and repair. Therefore, the monastery is also known as Sarin or Shishmanov. He also played an important role in the spiritual life of the Bulgarian capital in the 14th century.
During the Middle Ages, the Transfiguration Monastery was located about 400 – 500 meters south of its present location. The original site of the monastery was abandoned after its destruction during the conquest of Tarnovo at the end of the 14th century.
The area of the Transfiguration Monastery has been declared a natural landmark in order to preserve the natural habitat of a tree line in. Due to the specific climate of the gorge, the vegetation is extremely rich. The natural habitat of a tree-like Turkish hazel is under protection. In addition, various types of linden, oak, hornbeam, rustle, maple, elm, pine, walnut and more dominate. Birds show great diversity – protected species such as black stork, Egyptian vulture, owl, barbel, hawk, falcon, etc. are found. Different types of bats are common in caves and rock crevices.
Beautiful surroundings and convenient location make the monastery a place for frequent visits and relaxation by tourists and residents of the area.
There is an ecotrail starting from the Turnovo quarter of Varusha and Kartal Bair to the Monastery. The transition is about 3 hours in one direction. Nature is extremely picturesque – waterfalls, groves, rocky terrains and great views!