The Monastery of St. Mary or the Cherepish Monastery is located in the gorge of the river Gabrovitsa in the northern part of Stara Planina Mountains. It is 80 km away from Sofia on the road to Mezdra in the Iskar Gorge and 50 km from the town of Vratsa.
Legend connects the foundation of the monastery (known also as the Monastery of the Seven Thrones) with the name of the boyar Peter Delyan and the uprising against the Byzantine rule back in 1040.
There is another legend about the creation of the monastery associated with the name “Seven Thrones”. According to it the monastery was founded in the 11 century by 7 nobles who came from Bessarabia and settled in the mountains with their families.
In 1737 Sultan Mahmoud, ordered the destruction of many monasteries and churches.
After the Russo-Turkish War of 1770 and the peace agreement, Sultan Abdul Medzhit issued a decree which allowed the subordinate Christians to build churches and monasteries. The monastery was reconstructed and returned to life by two brothers, priests.
Currently the Monastery of St. Mary welcomes visitors. It is surrounded by high stone walls and the church is located in the middle of the courtyard. The complex also includes a bell tower and two residential buildings, most of which are rooms for visitors. The yard impresses with its well kept garden with many flowers, flowering shrubs and old trees, one of which is a century-old redwood.
The monastery has its own library, which contains old Orthodox books, including one donated by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Today the monastery is almost completely restored. It offers accommodation for 50 people, no private bathroom. For visits on weekends or major religious holidays, it is desirable to make a reservation. There is a restaurant adjacent to the gates of the monastery, but it is better to bring your own food.
Visitors to the Monastery of St. Mary can enjoy a fireplace with tables and benches near the river that passes the monastery.