Samokov Monastery

Popular Name Samokov
Orthodox Name The Shroud of God's Mother
Region SW, Sofia

The Samokov-based convent “The Shroud of God’s Mother” is situated in the very town of Samokov, on Tsar Boris 3 street. It is open to visitors every day, while the church’s holiday is marked on the 1st of October, the day of the Shroud of Saint God’s Mother.

History and general info
The preserved architecture of the monastery buildings, most of which were built some 200 years ago, represents an authentic testimony to the town of Samokov’s renaissance period. The establishment of the monastery is connected to the arrival of a nun, Fota, who had taken holy orders in Russia, from Plovdiv in 1772. A Samokov-based convent of the Athos Hilendar’s (Hilendarski) monastery was founded upon her initiative, while Fota became its first mother superior. In 1872, the monastery was officially enlisted in the chronicle of the Metropolitan Church. The monastery was often joined by rich widows from Samokov, who built their own cells and took with them daughters, granddaughters or poor female relatives who served them and attended to their needs. Thus, the monastery gradually expanded. According to the story told by two famous travelers, Georgina Mackenzie and Adeline Irby, who visited Samokov in 1862, the nuns at that time supported themselves with spinning and looming, while the money raised this way was invested in the construction of the monastery’s church. The nuns, the story continues, did not engage in demonstrative charity activities, but neither did they ask for anyone’s help.

The church’s construction started in 1837 and ended in 1838. It was consecrated in 1839. Dimitar Zograf was one of the masters who painted icons for the church. In the narthex, visitors can see a fresco with the image of the Protective God’s Mother, which according to experts was painted by the great master Zahari Zograf.

In the 19th century, the monastery was a true cradle of girl’s education in town. Following Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule, the monastery continued to support itself with production of broadcloth, as evidenced also by a Czech historian, Konstantin Jireček. The nuns’ famous white broadcloth took part in several international fairs, such as the International Exhibition in Liege in 1905, the Exhibition of Balkan Countries in London in 1907 and the First Bulgarian Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition in Plovdiv in 1892. The honorary deeds that the nuns received at those fairs, can still be seen in the monastery’s dining hall (so-called ‘magernitsa’) –Hadzhistamov’s house that had been adjoined to the monastery’s complex.
Accommodation and food
One of the monastery’s buildings is used for accommodation of visitors. The nuns also run a charity kitchen for poor fellow citizens, but visitors can have a meal in one of the many restaurants in the town of Samokov.
The monastery is easy to find as it lies in the heart of Samokov.
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