Monastery of St. George the Victorious in Kremikov

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Monastery of St. George the Victorious in Kremikov It is believed that the Kremikovtsi Monastery was founded during the reign of Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331 – 1371), but sure evidence of its existence is from the late 15th century.

In 1382, when the Ottomans conquered Sofia, the monastery was completely destroyed. The first specific statement relating to the Kremikovtsi Monastery dates back to 1493 when local nobleman helped for the reconstruction of the church.

During the Ottoman rule the monastery is an important literary and cultural center for the population of Sofia and many liturgical books have been copied there. 

After the death of the martyr St. George of Sofia part of his relics were moved to the monastery. Like most monasteries in Bulgaria it served as a refuge for rebels during the period of the Ottoman rule. After the liberation a dozen refugee nuns settled in the monastery. In 1897. Ivan Vazov visited the monastery and wrote a wonderful itinerary for it.

The construction of a new large church began in 1901 and was completed in 1907. Until 1950s the monastery was a nunnery with 32 nuns engaged in farming and agriculture. Nowadays the Kremikovtsi nunnery consists mainly of two buildings and two churches. The oldest building here is the church of St. George from the late 15 century, which has been renovated twice (in 1503 and 1611). It is an example of the widespread Basilica cult buildings in the Bulgarian lands during the 13-14 centuries, covered with semi-cylindrical vault. The old narthex was probably of the same length. The murals in the old church were made immediately after construction and are closely connected with the traditions of the Bulgarian church painting of the Middle Ages. Differences in style and techniques suggest that the frescoes in the vestibule and those in the church were made by different painters at different times.

Most impressive is the composition with the church patron St. George riding a white horse and the dragon stabbed with a long spear. One of the relics in the monastery is the Kremikovtsi Gospel written in 1497 with beautiful vignettes and capital letters. The monastery also has interesting icons. The oldest of these is the “Christ Almighty,” which dates from the 15th century. Another icon is the one with the image of the patron of the monastery of St. George on horseback killing the dragon and a few icons from the 18 and 19 centuries.

The Kremikovtsi Monastery does not offer accommodation at this stage despite of the relatively large residential buildings. The main reason for this is that so far only one nun takes care of all maintenance of the cloister. Tables and benches are placed in the yard with a picturesque view to the city and they can be used by visitors to the site. The proximity to Sofia makes the convent a perfect destination for the citizens of the capital for a one-day tour.

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