From Plovdiv we head towards the Rhodope Mountains passing through the pretty town of Asenovgrad. Nearby we see the remarkable remains of King Ivan Asen's Fortress - a wise ruler of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. There we find an ancient church dating from the 13-th century painted with some authentic pieces of iconography. At the top of the fortress we enjoy an awesome 360 degrees panorama all over the Rhodope Mountains, Asenovgrad town, The Thracian Valley and the imposing Balkan Range with its highest Botev Peak in the far distance.
Next we go deeper in the lovely Rhodope Mountains towards the picturesque Bachkovo Monastery. The cloister is the second largest in Bulgaria, founded in 1083 and one of the most sacred places in the Bulgarian history. Inside the monastery we visit the main church of Virgin Mary built in 1604 where a valuable icon of Saint Mary from 11-12th century AD is being kept. According to the legend and the big number of healed people this remarkable icon is believed to be miracle working. Attached to the Virgin Mary church we see the Archangels Church dating to the 12-th century. The monastery refectory is another jewel in the complex which has preserved colorful murals from 1643. Together with the Doomsday fresco, we witness the images of some prophets, saint-monks, ancient philosophers and writers such as Socrates, Aristotle, Plato and many more. The panoramic mural painting on the outside wall of the refectory represents a bird's eye view of the monastery with all the surrounding buildings from 1807. This is the biggest scenic mural on the Balkan Peninsula! In the second monastery yard we finally visit the Saint Nikola church built between 1834 and 1837.
Optionally, for the nature enthusiasts we continue the tour with a short and easy walk in the Red wall nature reserve nearby Bachkovo Monastery where we discover a beautiful waterfall, green meadows and lush forests. We may even reach the end of the canyon where we find a peaceful chapel built around a sacred well with holy water and a few century old plane trees.
Period: Year round
Trip duration: 3-4 hours
Included: English speaking tour guide, transfers from/to your hotel in Plovdiv, parking fee
Not included: Assen's Fortress entrance fee (1,50 EUR), Bachkovo Monastery entrance fee (0,50 EUR), Bachkovo Monastery refectory entrance fee (3 EUR) - optional, food and tips