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Sokolski Monastery Bulgaria
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Sokolski Monastery
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Sokolski Monastery

Sokolski Monastery - Sokolovo cave

The Sokolski Monastery is a Bulgarian Orthodox monastery founded in 1833 and named after its founder Yosif Sokolski. It is located 15 km southwest of Gabrovo on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains in the Bulgarka Nature Park and is close to the Sokolovo cave.

Address: 5311 Vodici, Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Sokolski Monastery of the Assumption is located in Sokolova Cave Area, 15 km southeast of Gabrovo and 4 km away from the Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex. The monastery is connected to the Etar Complex by a tourist trail passing through a beautiful area and taking approximately two hours to cover. There is a good asphalt road connecting the monastery with the town.

The monastery was founded by Archimandrite Yosif Sokolski. In 1833, he put up a small wooden church and a rickety hut by the entrance of the nearby Sokola Cave (Falcon Cave), and in 1834, with the help of people from the local villages, a big temple was built and consecrated, replacing the wooden buildings. The temple is a single-naved, single-apsed building with domes; the wall-paintings were added later.

During the Bulgarian Revival Period, a monastery school was established in Sokolski Monastery. In the years up to the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 the cloister provided shelter to Vasil Levski, the fighter for liberation, and to the band of Captain grandfather Nikola, another fighter for freedom. During the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) the monastery was converted to an infirmary for the wounded Russian soldiers.

In 1868, Kolyu Ficheto, the famous self-taught master builder, made a round stone fountain with eight spouts in the monastery yard that has survived to this day and has now become one of the most interesting things to see in the monastery. It is believed that Kolyu Ficheto also built the beautiful stone wall and the ossuary next to the monastery temple. The monastery was inhabited only by monks until the mid-20th century, when, in 1959, the nuns from the Convent of Gabrovo moved there. Since then, Sokolski Monastery has been functioning as a convent. The nuns brought valuable icons and documents with them when they moved to the monastery. Accommodation is available at the monastery. Its yard is well-kept and has beautiful flower alleys.

The Sokolski Monastery is an Orthodox monastery built in 1833. Its style corresponds to that of the Bulgarian National Revival that spread throughout the country after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The support of the local population of the nearby village of Gabrovo was key to giving the monastery a renewed and radiant appearance.

It was founded by the clergyman Yosif Sokolski after whom it is named. The original church and monastic buildings were made of wood. The current buildings were constructed in the following decades. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the monastery was restored and redecorated by the local population. The Sokolsky Monastery played an important role in the April Uprising, having sheltered the revolutionary fighter Vasil Levski.

The monastic complex has a large courtyard in the centre, in the middle of which stands a stone fountain by the master architect and sculptor Kolyu Ficheto. The most picturesque spot is its church, decorated with brightly coloured frescoes. The monastery houses important icons, of which the God' Mother with the Son, believed to work miracles, is the most important. Accommodation for visitors is available at the monastery. There is also a souvenir shop selling local products.

Sokolski Monastery is a beautiful Orthodox Monastery in the Veliko Turnovo region, only 10 km southeast from Gabrovo and very close to the Etara Ethnographic Complex. There is regular public transport from Gabrovo and a beautiful and easy 2 hour hiking trail from Etara.

Though the Monastery is less than 200 years old, there are quite a few legends that go along with it. One of them is about the abyss next to the Monastery. The legend tells that in the times of the Ottoman empire many young Bulgarian maidens met their death here - they chose to jump down and die rather than change their religious beliefs and convert to Islam. Another legend hovers about the beautiful stone basin in the monastery yard. It has 8 falcon-shaped faucets and is believed to never dry out. They say that its water can cure many diseases and protect from evil spells. In the St Pantaleimon Chapel next to the Church you can see a rock in the cracks of which pilgrims leave notes with wishes. The water than runs from underneath this rock has healing powers as well.

Plan a longer time to spend at the Sokolski Monastery if possible since there is a lot to see inside and in the beautiful Stara Planina surroundings. There is a scenic picnic spot in front of the monastery and the walking trails around are incredible. Both Gabrovo and Veliko Tarnovo, the closest bigger cities, offer a good choice of hotels and restaurants.