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Assumption of Virgin Mary Monastery in Iskrets

The monastery "Assumption of Virgin Mary" is located within the sanatorium for lung diseases "King Ferdinand I" in Iskrets. Leisure center itself is established in 1908 by decree and donation of King Ferdinand. The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church donated the land of the monastery for its construction. Thus the monastery church became Internal of the territory of the sanatorium building.

It is assumed that the monastery is existed even in the 13 century. It belongs to the “Sofia Sveta Gora” (Sredets Little Mount Athos), which during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom included 14 monasteries around Sofia. Probably the monastery was part of a large complex including several castles and churches, as evidenced by finds of stone pillars and foundations of a large, possibly Metropolitan Church in the locality "the White Cross". The legend says that this first monastery was destroyed very early - even with the arrival of the Turks in the 14 century.

In the beginning of 17 century at that place again is built a church, as evidenced by the donor’s inscription from 1602. This church was one-nave, built of stones, with modest dimensions of 5.8 x 3.8 meters and 0.75 thickness of the walls. Inside the temple is placed a large round stone with inscription. At that time the church was painted. Some legends connect these first paintings with the work of Pimen Zografski (1540- 1620), for which is known that at the end of 16 and the beginning of 17 century has restored and painted many churches and monasteries around Sofia. These first paintings are obliterated in the time of re-painting of the church in the 19 century and currently only the fallen plaster on the north wall of the early church reveals a little detail of this artistic wealth.

This first building was decorated again in 1845 when the church was extended to the west with a spacious narthex (10 x 7.40 m). Above the entrance in the early church is placed inscription from which is understood that the renewed church "was depicted during the monk and trustee Marinko Eprtrop, year 1845". More inscriptions placed in the new narthex evidence about donations done by the local people.

The new paintings in the church covered the old frescoes in the early building and the new narthex. In the nave into a rectangular frames are presented three types of depictions of Christ: Christ Almighty (Pantocrator), Christ Emmanuel and Christ Angel. On the east wall of the apse are depicted the Virgin Mary with the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Above the apse in the vault - "Pentecost". Under the image of the Mother of God are scenes "Communion of the Apostles" and "Melizmos". The murals also depict the traditional saints and Old Testament prophets. In the scene "The Last Supper" Christ holds so called "Akakiya" (a bag with dust, symbolizing the transient earthly life) which detail can be seen mainly in images of emperors.

On the northern and southern wall on two levels in chronological order are depicted scenes from the earthly life of Christ. The cycle is characterized by striving for completeness and flair for detail. Most adverbially are presented "The Passion of the Christ". Two frieze of medallions depict the Old Testament prophets (top) and saints (bottom). The western wall is covered with the scenes "Transfiguration" and "Assumption". The lower part of the walls is covered with Virgin Mary cycle and at the bottom are depicted eight images of female saints (Elizabeth, Anna and Bulgarian St. Petka).

In the narthex are depicted Christ's miracles and hagiographical writings cycles of St. George, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Ivan Rilski. Presented are 13 scenes illustrating the Revelation of John the Theologian - so richly illustrated Apocalypse is attested only in Rila Monastery. On the eastern wall of the narthex is presented Virgin Mary surrounded by 21 saints.

Some researchers suggest that the frescoes in the Iskrets monastery were created under the influence of those in Rila monastery. According to A. Vasilev their author (as well as to those in baptistery) is Yanachko Stanimirov from village of Breze. D. Kamenova connects them with the painter Kiriak from Sofia District.

South of the temple is located heptagon in plan Baptistery-Confessional. This building is the only one separated Baptistery ever built in Bulgarian monastery. About the time of its construction there are two versions: in the 18 century, according to poorly preserved inscription, and in 1856 - according to an inscription in the alcove window. According to its architectural features, the construction of this building may refer to the middle of the 19 century. In the center of the Baptistery is preserved stone font. Its internal walls are entirely decorated with frescoes dominated by image of the Mother of God.

At the same time (19 century) has been restored also the monastery complex consisting of two-storeyed buildings with balconies. Currently from this complex is preserved only the entrance gate. At the end of the 19 century here exists a church school.

From Iskrets monastery comes engraved Psalter printed in Venice in the 16 century (currently in the library of the Holy Synod). A note in it reports about the destruction of Sofia by Turkish units led by Kara Feyzi at the beginning of the 19 century.

During the communist period (1944-1989) the church was closed. However, residents of the village of Iskrets came here to light candles. The first service after the fall of the regime is held on September 8, 1991 in honor of the Virgin Mary. On this holiday, especially on the temple day - Assumption (August 15), here come many believers. In the temple is served only on major Christian holidays.

Assumption of Virgin Mary Monastery in Iskrets

DD 42.98410684122132 23.274866044521332

DMS N 42° 59' 2.785'' E 23° 16' 29.517''

See the hiking trail Iskrets - Mecha poliana

The monastery is located within the sanatorium for lung diseases "King Ferdinand I". The place is accessible and comfortable for visitors. To here could be reached by car (a rehabilitation hospital has a convenient parking) but also by public transport - train to the town of Svoge and shuttle buses to Iskrets to the bus stop "Sanatorium".

From the station it passes through the entrance of the Sanatorium where there is a barrier, but pedestrian access is not restricted. The route goes along the main promenade to the north and after about 300 meters reaches the preserved arched entrance of the monastery, which falls to the right of the direction of movement.

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