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Dragalevtsi Monastery Bulgaria
Dragalevtsi Monastery
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Dragalevtsi Monastery

Dragalevtsi Monastery of the Holy Mother

Dragalevtsi Monastery of the Holy Mother of God of Vitosha is a Bulgarian Orthodox monastery on the lower slopes of Vitosha mountain on the outskirts of the capital Sofia in western Bulgaria.

The Dragalevtsi Monastery is one of the most accessible ones, located just on the verge between the capital – Sofia – and the Vitosha mountain, towering above the city. Set in picturesque beech forests by Dragalevska river, it is a destination with intense cultural history and vibrant natural outlook, that attracts both locals and visitors from all over Europe.
So, here is our first-hand guide to exploring the Dragalevtsi Monastery, as you Travel in Pink.

Location and getting there
The Dragalevtsi Monastery is easily accessible and in very close proximity to the capital city of Bulgaria. It stands about 1 km away from Sofias Dragalevtsi district (from which it has obtained its popular name) in the direction to the mountain top.

When approaching the Dragalevtsi Monastery, you have three options:

Option one: To arrive directly in front of the monastery gates, follow the brown sign indicating the direction to the place. This road is rather narrow and full of turns, and yet totally safe.

Option two: Take the road to the nearby Aleko hut. After less than a kilometer, you will reach a path, leading to spacious free parking located just 100-200 meters away from the monastery.

Option three: Just take a long walk from the center of the Dragalevtsi district. Your route shall start from the local Krayrechna Street, which at the foot of Vitosha Mountain transforms into a scenic forest path leading to the monastery.
The area is approachable all year round by private or rented vehicles, bikes, motorcycles, or walking – whichever suits your taste.

Dragalevtsi Monastery – history and essence
The Dragalevtsi Monastery is a Bulgarian Orthodox convent, the official name of which sounds like Uspenie Bogorodichno. Anyway, you dont have to pronounce that. You just need to know that it means The Assumption of the Virgin.

The monastery was founded by the Bulgaria tsar Ivan Alexander sometime in the 14th century. It was a vital part of the so-called Sofia Holy Mountain – a medieval complex of 14 monasteries, formed in the region of Sofia and the surrounding mountains in the era of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. And it was all burned to the ground and deserted after the conquering of Sofia by the Ottoman Turks at the end of the 14th century.

Restored in the middle of the 15th century, the Dragalevtsi Monastery became a hub of vigorous literary and educational pursuits and the center of the Sofia Literary School. Several Bulgarian Christian books were copied and created, meaning the monastery served as a means for survival and preservation of the local culture during the harsh Ottoman slavery of Bulgarians.

Nowadays, the Dragalevtsi Monastery represents a complex, consisting of the 15th-century church, plus a few new-built residential and agriculture-related buildings. It is a cultural monument of national importance with two layers of frescoes, old icons, and authentic spirit with an abundant historical significance.

What else to see and do around the Dragalevtsi Monastery
The yard of the Dragalevtsi monastery is spacious and set on two separate levels. You can observe the outdoor bell tower, walk a petite alley between the adjoining churches, and take a peaceful rest on the wooden shelter with a beautiful view over Sofia. There is also a place to buy small thematic souvenirs, soft drinks, and coffee before heading to the homey picnic area nearby.

The monastery is set in a lush mountain surrounding, where you can enjoy a pleasant forest stroll for as long as it suits your taste.

A few kilometers from the Dragalevtsi Monastery in the direction of Vladaya, you can reach the Boyana Church – one of the nine Bulgaria sites protected by UNESCO.

The Dragalevtsi Monastery is open for the general public all year round, morning to sunset. All you need to do is take your time and feel the vibes.

About this building
The monastery was founded by Tsar Ivan Alexander during the Second Bulgarian Empire. It was one of the 14 monasteries built around the Vitosha Mountain and known as the Sofia Saint Forest. Even though it burnt to the ground after the Ottoman occupation of the country, it was rebuilt in the 15th century becoming an important centre for literacy.

It includes a church, residential buildings, and outbuildings. Some of the church's wall paintings date from the 15th century. It also has paintings from the 16th and 17th century.

In the 19th century, the national hero Vasil Levski used the monastery as a hideout to plan some of his revolutionary actions against the Turkish Empire.