The monastery “St George The Victorious” was built by a Byzantine military commander, Nikifor Skifi. He appeared with his men in the rear of the courageous Bulgarian Tsar Samuil in 1014 and this way contributed to the victory of the Byzantine ruler Basilius II who left the field with plenty of spoils and prisoners of war.
In 1018, the Byzantine emperor Basilius II, appointed his chief commander Nikofor Skifi as administrator of the then Philipopolis district with his seat being in the town of Philipopolis (present-day Plovdiv). The rich and fertile lands of the Plovdiv region required workers and Skifi asked Emperor Basilius II to send him 15,000 of Tsar Samuil’s soldiers, taken captives during the Belasitsa mountain battle. The Emperor agreed and the soldiers established the village of Belashtitsa.
Nikifor Skifi had a large palace-fortress to the south of the village, whose remains now can be seen next to a centuries’ old plane-tree.
In 1020 Nikifor Skifi built the monastery and consecrated it to St George the Victorious. Nikifor Skifi’s child name was Nikolay. He was an ethnic Bulgarian born in Stara Zagora and taken as slave to Tsarigrad (present-day Istanbul). When he was 30, Nikifor Skifi took part in the Belasitsa mountain battle as a military commander and ordered that even his own brother be blinded so that he does not tell Nikifor’s origin. The mother of Nikifor, Ventsislava, was 76 when she saw the horror done to the Bulgarian soldiers and her elderly son Dragomir. She cursed Nikifor with the words: “Be cursed with short life, my son, for what you’ve done”. The revenge over Nikifor Skifi, nicknamed “The Bulgarians’ Assassin”, came on December 22, 1029, when the Byzantine army was defeated and he was killed at the Belasitsa mountain.
Religious Bulgarians donated funds for further construction and improvement of the buildings during the previous centuries. The monastery is declared a monument of culture and represents a complex consisting of a church, a chapel, residential and farm buildings. At present three nuns and 2 novices live permanently in it.
Many pilgrims gather around the monastery on the patron’s day (6th May) each year. It is a busy day with a lot of stalls in front but it is peaceful and quiet during the rest of the year. A visit to the monastery can be combined with a picnic or a tourist hike in the mountain.