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Bulgaria

MONASTERIES

ROZEN MONASTERY



Situated far to the south in the Pirin area, 6 km from Melnik, this is the only monastery restored during the first centuries of Ottoman rule which has survived to this day. The present-day appearance of this old monastery (built by the Melnik ruler, despot Slav, during the 12th or 13th century) dates back to the 16th century. According to one inscription, the image of Christ Pantocrator together with the twelve apostles above the entrance gate of the Holy Virgin main church, was painted in 1597. Valuable monuments of 17th century painting included the external southern wall (Doomsday, Jacob's Ladder), dated with an inscription from 1611, as well as scenes from the life of John the Baptist painted in 1622 in the ossuary. The inside walls in the naos, the narthex and chapel of the main church were painted in 1732, with a strong inclination for narration, as a result of which more than 150 subject-matters were illustrated. The abundance of figures of monks and hermits unknown anywhere else, many of them, probably historic personages, contemporaries of the unknown painter, is also typical. Rozhen Monastery owes its fame above all to its carved iconostases and lecterns. Some of them are extremely complicated compositions, both in intent and in actual execution, in which Biblical themes have given full scope to boundless imagination which reached the peaks of decorativeness. Rozhen Monastery has left us with a treasure in yet another art - that of calligraphy. A unique work of the calligraphic school, which existed here as early as in the 14th century, is the manuscript "Interpretation of Jonah", taken in 1674 from the Constantinople Patriarch Dositheusm, and kept today in the Holy Grave Church in Jerusalem.


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