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Aladzha Monastery Bulgaria
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Aladzha Monastery
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Aladzha Monastery

Aladzha Monastery - medieval Orthodox Christian cave monastery

Aladzha Monastery is a medieval Orthodox Christian cave monastery complex in northeastern Bulgaria, 17 km north of central Varna and 3 km west of Golden Sands beach resort, in a protected forest area adjacent to the Golden Sands Nature Park. Wikipedia Address: Abay 61, 9000 Varna, Bulgaria

Hours:
Closed Opens 9am Mon
Phone: +359 88 893 9277

Aladzha Monastery is the most famous medieval cave monastery along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It was inhabited by hermit monks during the XIII- XIV centuries.

It was in the end of XIX century when the founders of the Bulgarian archaeology- Shkorpil brothers, Karel and Hermin, began systematically to study this Christian monument. In 1927, Aladzha Monastery was declared a public historical monument and in 1968 it was declared an architectural cultural monument of national significance.

The monastery caves are hewn on two levels into an almost 40m high limestone rock. The first level consists of a monastery church, monastic cells, a dining premise and a kitchen, a small cemetery church, a crypt (bone-vault) and farm premises. The second level is a natural cave recess in the eastern end of which there is a monastery chapel.

600-700m west from the Monastery there is a group of caves known as the Catacombs. The items found by the archaeologists such as ceramics, coins, graffiti, etc., evidence that the Catacombs were inhabited during the early Christian Age (V-VI centuries).

After the fall of Bulgaria under the Ottoman yoke in the end of 14th century, Aladzha Monastery has gradually declined and it was probably around 15th – 16th century when it was finally abandoned.

The Christian name of the Monastery is unknown. The name aladzha (alaca) is of a Persian – Arabian origin meaning motley, bright. At the beginning of the last century, K. Shkorpil wrote a legend according to which the patron of the monastery was St. Spas (named after Christ the Saviour).

The unusual architectural shapes and numerous legends and myths for hidden treasures and monk ghosts hovering about the ruins create a mystical and occult atmosphere attracting many admirers for decades now.

The cave monastery is situated in the central part of Golden Sands Naturе Park - a protected area with rare tree species. The beautiful nature surrounding the Monastery combined with the historical and mythological symbolism make the place a wonderful spot for cultural, eco and cult tourism. For a century now, Aladzha Monastery has been recognised as one of the most interesting destinations along the Black Sea Coast and it is included in most of the world travel guides.

Adding to the wonderful diversity of this beautiful area there is a museum built in 70s of 20th century, where along with the permanent exposition displaying the Monastery’s history, several interesting exhibitions are held every year. In the lobby, the visitors can buy scientific editions, Bulgarian church music CDs and various souvenirs.

You can reach Aladzha Monastery by car or by public transport - bus line 29 to bus stop Aladzha Monastery or bus line 9 to bus stop Chaika.

Admission:
Adults- 5 lv
Children - 3 lv
Groups over 10 persons - adults 4 lv, children 3 lv

Opening hours:
summer
May - October: 9:00 to 17:00hrs, without a day off

winter

November: 10:00 to 17:00hrs, days off - Monday and Tuesday December - February: the site is closed
March - April: 10:00 to 17:00hrs, days off - Monday and Tuesday

Nature park Golden sands Telephone: +359 52 355 460, +359 887 841 492 www.archaeo.museumvarna.com Aladzha Monastery is the most popular medieval rock monastery at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, which was inhabited by monks- hermits in the 13th – 14th century. Systematic research of this Christian monument was initiated in the late 19th century by two of the founders of Bulgarian archeology – the brothers Karel and Hermin Shkorpil. In 1912, the Aladzha monastery was granted the title of national historical monument and in 1968 - an architectural monument of national importance. There is no information about the time Aladzha monastery was created. The surviving frescoes in the chapel show that the place was the center of spiritual life during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (13th – 14th century). When Bulgaria fell under Ottoman domination in the end of the 14th century Aladzha Monastery gradually declined and probably at the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century it was completely abandoned. The Christian name of the monastery is still unknown. The name Aladzha comes from a Persian or Arabic word and means motley, colorful. At the beginning of the last century K. Shkorpil recorded a story according to which the patron of the monastery was St. Spas (derived from ‘Christ the Savior’). The unusual architectural forms and numerous legends about hidden treasures and ghosts of monks wandering among the ruins create an atmosphere of mystery and mysticism, which has been attracting numerous admirers for decades. Within a century these facts managed to establish Aladzha Monastery as one of the most attractive tourist destinations at the Bulgarian Black Seaside, included in most world guidebooks. In the 1970-es, a museum building was erected near the monastery, which, along with the permanent exposition related to the past of the cloister, houses other expositions dedicated to Bulgarian Christian culture. In the museum lobby the visitors can purchase popular science editions, compact discs with Bulgarian clerical music, and a variety of souvenirs. For several years now, the visitors have also been provided with the opportunity to observe the nighttime performance of the unique audio-visual Aladzha Monastery Legends Show.