Аладжа Манастир

Aladzha Monastery


Useful Information

Location: North of Varna.
From the city Varna follow motorway 9 to its end, turn left. The parking lot is along the road.
(43.277992, 28.015513)
Open: All year daily ,
[2021]
Fee: Adults BGN 5, Children BGN 2.
[2021]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: n/a LightSon et Lumière
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Aladzha Monastery, ul. "Цар Симеон I" 6А, 9000 Varna Center, Varna, Tel: +359-52-355-460.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

11-12th cty Aladzha Monastery founded.
1968 declared a national monument of culture and antiquity.
2009 begin of the audio-visual show called Legends of Aladzha Monastery.

Description

Аладжа манастир "Света Троица" (Aladzha Holy Trinity Monastery), also Aladja Monastery, is located north of Varna. It is a cave monastery, which started when a group of hermits began to live in artificial caves on a ledge of a cliff face. The name of Aladzha Monastery comes from the Turkish word "aladjha" or ”aladja” for colourful. So it was most probably named after the bright colours of its wall paintings, which date back to the early Middle Ages. At one time the frescoes in the monastery, which were painted by the monks, must have been bursting with colour. Unfortunately only few of them are preserved. On some walls incredible frescoes dating back to the 13th to 14th century can be still seen.

As the monastery was actually not founded, it is unknwon how old it is. There is evidence that it existed in the 10th to 12th century. The remaining frescoes are from the 13th to 14th century After the Ottomans conquered Bulgaria at the end of the 14th century, Aladzha Monastery gradually fell into decline and was most likely completely abandoned around the 15th – 16th century.

The Christian name of the monastery is unknown. According to legend St. Spas, the name is derived from the Bulgarian Hristos Spasitel (Christ the Saviour), was the patron saint of the cloister. K. Shkorpil, the first person who did research in the monastery.

The monastery is abandoned, no monks live here, and it is now a monument of culture and a museum. Despite being preserved, it has changed since it was inhabited. Due to demolition and erosion processes only 20 residential premises and three churches still exist. They were cut out on two levels from the almost 40 m high limestone cliff. Today access is provided by an external staircase which was built in front of the cliff.

The lower floor hosted the monks' private cells, common rooms like kitchen, dining room, and a small church. From the staircase on the right side is the crypt. On the left side is an internal corridor which leads to the refectory, the kitchen and six monks cells. On the upper floor, above the crypt there is a chapel which was decorated with frescoes, but unfortunately most of them are damaged.

Another set of caves called Katakombite (the catacombs) are located 600 m from the monastery to the west. There is a trail through the forest to the caves. The caves are not part of the monastery, and definitely no catacombs. Excavations revealed pottery and coins from the Early Christian period between the fourth and sixth century. They are actually much older than the monastery.