Cherepish Monastery

Popular Name Cherepish
Orthodox Name Assumption of Virgin Mary
Region NW, Montana

The Cherepish monastery, named “The Assumption of Virgin Mary”, is to be found 29km to the southeast of the town of Vratza, in the Iskar defile of the Balkan mountain.

History and general info
Establishing of the Cherepish monastery dates back to the Second Bulgarian State, at the time of Tsar Ivan Shishman (1371-1393). During the time of the Ottoman domination, the cloister was ruined and set on fire several times. At the end of the 16th century, it was reconstructed by St. Pimen of Sofia. During the times of the Bulgarian Renaissance, the monastery grew into a cultural and educational centre. It hosted a monastery school, while books, saints’ biographies and gospels were written and rewritten there. Relics such as the Cherepish Gospel, enclosed in golden bindings in 1512 and decorated with scenes from the bible, as well as the Gospel of Monk Danail and the Book of the Apostles of Jacob, all date to that period. St Sofronii of Vratsa seeks and finds shelter in the monastery in 1797. Between 1872 and 1876, the monastery was a shelter of lots of revolutionaries, plotting against the Turks. In addition, the cloister was visited by the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov in 1889 and 1907, while in 1897 another renowned author, Aleko Konstantinov, dropped by here during his tour of the region. Based on his impressions on the monastery, he published one of his popular travel notes, Bulgarian Switzerland.

Old Christian churches have been found in the area surrounding the monastery. A large part of the cloister was renovated and restored in recent times. A monastery school has been opened for year at the monastery.

The St George’s church attracts visitor’s attention with its original design and its frescoes (painted in the 19th century by a priest, Yoanikii), together with the bone-vault, which perches from a steep rock over one of the buildings. The church represents a one-nave building with a spacious entrance, an open gallery and a pointed dome. An iconostasis with fine woodcarvings and a representation of the burial of Christ, embroidered in 1844, are some of the impressive items of the interior.

The Cherepish monastery has been declared a monument of culture.
Accommodation and food
Following a thorough renovation in the summer of 2006, the Cherepish monastery already offers food and accommodation. The monastery’s dining hall, the so-called magernitsa, is open to guests and can accommodate up to 35 people. It offers traditional monastery meals and Bulgarian cuisine. The hotel part of the monastery, in turn, can host up to 30 people in rooms for 3, 4 or 6 people with bathrooms. The price per bed (as of November, 2006) is 10 leva (approx. 5 euro) per night. Children up to 5 years of age are accommodated free of charge while those up to 12 years use 50% discount. Tourist groups can negotiate prices directly with the monastery’s staff.
The Cherepish monastery is easy to reach by car if one sets off from Sofia, following the road to Mezdra. A small asphalt offroad, which leads to the gates of the monastery starts about 15km before one enters Mezdra.
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