German Monastery

Popular Name German
Orthodox Name St. Ivan Rilski
Region SW, Sofia

The German monastery, “St. Ivan of Rila”, is situated in Lozen mountain close to Sofia. The monastery lies about 5km to the southeast of the village of German, which in turn is just 15km to the southeast of the city of Sofia.

History and general info
German monastery was established in the 10th century, shortly after the death of St. Ivan of Rila. He is believed to have lived in the area of the cloister for some time before going to Rila mountain. It is only the German monastery and the cloister in Kurilo (close to Novi Iskar) that are dedicated to the saint.

The German monastery is a part of the “Little Sveta Gora” as the Sofia region is called. The monastery flourished until the late 14th century. It was destroyed by the Turks in the 14th c. but was rebuilt shortly afterwards (15th c.) and had become a true cultural centre by the 17th century. In the 18th century the bands of so-called Kurdzhalii destroyed the monastery again. In the early 19th century a few monks with the help of local people rebuilt the monastery. In 1818, a simple one-nave church that was half-hidden beneath the surface was added.

After 1878, the then father superior, Nikifor and his brother Cyril decided to rebuild the monastery. In 1885, a new bigger church was erected in the place of the old one. The new icons inside the church were painted by two famous brothers from the town of Samokov – Ivan and Nikola Dospevski. The old ones are kept with the Historical Museum of Sofia. Except for the new icons, a new iconostasis with large icons of St Ivan of Rila, St God’s Mother with Christ, Jesus Christ, St John the Precursor and St Nikolay Miriklijski the Miracle-Worker was made. In the late 19th century, the monastery was visited by Prince Ferdinand and Princess Maria Louise who planted two sequoias at the northern gate.

Since 1928, the German monastery and its properties have been officially owned and managed by the St. Georgi Zograf of Athos, Greece. At present, the monastery functions regularly, well kept by its inhabitants.
Accommodation and food
Not offered at this time.
The monastery is easily accessible by car. One needs to take the road to the village of German that starts from the Circle Road of Sofia. Then, at the very entrance of the village a road can be seen that leads straight to the monastery. There is a sign pointing the way to the monastery. The distance from this point to the cloister is some 5 km.

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