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Veliko Tarnovo

Kiliffarevo Monastery

The Kilifarevo Monastery “Birth of the Blessed Virgin” is situated 4 km south of Kilifarevo and 17 km south of Veliko Turnovo, at the left bank of Belitza River. It was founded about 1350 by the prominent man of letters and Hesychast Teodosii Tarnovski and built with the help of Tsar Ivan - Alexander. Teodosii Tarnovski made it a home of the famous Kilifarevo School of Letters. The Kilifarevo Monastery has gone down in the annals of Bulgarian history as the "Second University of Mediaeval Bulgaria", following that of Clement of Ochrid's large School in Ochrid. It was founded between 1348 and 1350 upon the order of Tzar Ivan Alexander, 12 km south of Turnovo, for the purpose of providing shelter for the Hesychast and hermit Theodossius of Turnovo, a man of letters and an enlightener roaming the Bulgarian lands at the time.

The Kilifarevo monastery soon gathered writers, philologists, translators and calligraphers alongside with clergymen who spread Hesychasm, theologians and philosophers. Liturgical books and Byzantine chronicles were translated, volumes were compiled of the lives of Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek saints, and sermons were written against the different and numerous heresies. The most remarkable work of art here is again in the chapel: the old carved iconostasis, probably the work of Tryavna masters, fashioned with great imagination, seen above all in the figures of mythical monsters and beasts, with great sculptural talent, manifesting at the same time a perfect measure for decorativeness.

Find out more about Kilifarevo Monastery at BulgariaMonasteries.Com

During the Ottoman oppression the monastery had been frequently destroyed and restored. The latest restoration was done in the middle of the 19th century.
Following years-long appeals before the Turkish authorities and fund-raising campaigns, the famous Bulgarian Renaissance master, Kolyo Fitcheto, started the construction of the present-day one-dome basilica St Dimitar in 1840. The master decided to preserve the old altar wall and the two chapels, dedicated to St Teodosii and St Ivan of Rila. The church was finished in 1842, while the internal decoration was completed a year later. The iconostasis represents a golden masterpiece, done by two woodcarvers, Tsonyo and Simeon Vassilevi – a father and a son from the town of Tryavna. Besides by the icnostasis, visitors are also impressed by the icons of the Tryavna iconpainters Dosyu Koev, Simeon Simeonov, Yonko Popvitanov.

In addition to the church, currently the complex also includes two beautiful residential buildings in authentic Renaissance style, the older of which dates back to 1849. The monastery is declared a monument of culture.

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