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Seven Thrones monastery, Elenov dol

The monastery is known also as "Monastery of Osenovlag" although it is located near the village of Elenov dol. The official name of the monastery is "St. Virgin Mary" but its popular name comes because of the plan of the church in which are inscribed seven small chapels, each of them owning separate altar.

It is assumed that the monastery is founded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The legends associate the monastery with the Bulgarian Tsar Petar Delyan (1001 - 1041) and his rebellion in 1040 against the Byzantine rule. His third brother settled in Pazardzhik, where accepted the monastic name George. During the invasion of Pechenegs he went to the second brother Damian in Vratsa where they decided to build "Seven Thrones". They both become the first monastery donors. There is a claim that the king Petar Delyan himself ended his life here and was buried in the monastery church.

The earliest evidences about the monastery are established in a Gospel with a note from 1511 and in a book from 1554 both found in the library of the monastery. These are solid proves that at the beginning of 16 century the monastery was already active. We also know that in 1737 by orders of Sultan Mahmud I the monastery was destroyed and razed to the ground.

After the Russo-Turkish War in 1770 and signed peace agreement, Sultan Abdul Medjid issued a decree allowing the subordinates Christians to build churches and monasteries. In this time the monastery is reconstructed and brought back to life.

The existing today church "Birth of Holy Virgin" is dated in the 18 century and is built on the foundations of an older church. It is unique with its seven chapels (thrones) inscribed in the general plan of the church. The central one is dedicated to the "Assumption" and the others to the brothers Maccabees, to Archdeacon Stephen, "St. Seven Saints ", "St. St. Cosmas and Damian", "St. Archangel Gabriel" and "Annunciation of Mary".

The central interior is cross-shaped with massive dome. Each of the chapels also has a self-vault. The dome is maintained by a cylindrical drum. The lighting of the nave and the chapels is scarce. In the interior murals are only on the central dome. The altar icons are painted in 1770 by the artist Stoyu from Trojan.

In the beginning of the 19 century the monastery was again destroyed, the monastery buildings were demolished and its lands became property of a Muslim family from the town of Roman. In 1824 Dimitraki Hadzhitoshev from Vratsa and Metropolitan Dositey began the restoration of the monastery. They bought the monastery lands and brought here the monk Paisij from Lovech who built a new monastery building. The complex was granted to a convent of Cherepish monastery. In 1848, Father Christopher founded here a convent school, one of the teachers being himself, and in 1851 began construction of a new large three-storey monastery building.

In 1868 at the west of the church is added extensive outdoor arcade narthex. There are a donor inscription from the same year, which stated that the dome of the church is decorated with funds provided by Dimitar Aleksov and Angelko Mitrev. Above the main entrance is placed image of "St. Trinity ".

The monastery has been a favorite place of pilgrimage for the Bulgarian classic writer Ivan Vazov, who wrote here a poem "The clapper beating".

Among the attractions of the monastery is the tomb of the famous Bulgarian children's writer Zmey Goryanin (1905-1958) situated in the yard behind the church.

The current look of the monastery is established in 1970 after a major reconstruction.

Seven Thrones monastery, Elenov dol

DD 42.9998056 23.472649999999998

DMS N 42° 59' 59.3'' E 23° 28' 21.54''

See the hiking trails rest house "Trastena" - Seven Thrones monastery and Eliseyna - Seven Thrones monastery

The monastery is accessible by car along a narrow asphalt road from the station Eliseyna in the Iskar Gorge.The train station Eliseyna is a stop on the route of passenger trains located 64 km from Sofia and 10-12 km from the monastery. Every evening to the monastery goes bus that connects with arriving train.

The monastery offers 50 beds, parking and restaurant.

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Copyright © SVOGE Heritage Program
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