St. Prophet Ilia
The Alexandria monastery “St. Prophet Ilia” is situated in the neighbourhood of the village of Alexandria, some 10km away from the town of Krushari and 40km to the north of the town of Dobrich.
It is believed that the Alexandria monastery, as well as many other churches and monasteries, appeared during the rule of Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371). According to legends, the second wife of Ivan Alexander patronized personally the construction of the monastery nearby Alexandria. At first, the main building of the monastery was situated away from the present-day building. It is not known why this particular place was chosen for construction of a monastery. One of the possible explanations is the near-by spring that is believed to have curable waters, as well as the proximity of a stone plate on which the steps of St. Prophet Ilia and his donkey are believed to have been imprinted. According to an order by Tsar Ivan Alexander, construction works for a number of churches and monasteries started in 1346. The monastery most probably was then finished within 3 to 4 years. Then it took about the same number of years to furnish it, consecrate it and inhabit it with monks. Twenty-five years after the death of Tsar Ivan Alexander Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, which started a process of destruction of monasteries and churches upon the order of Sultan Selim, including the one near the village of Alexandria. According to reports by Vladislav Gramatik, at the end of the 15th century and in early 16th century Turkish bands of villains slaughtered local people and plundered churches and monasteries, including the Alexandria cloister. Later one, a wooden tekke (a Muslim place of worship) had been erected, but it did not survive until present days. The restoration of the Alexandria monastery started in 2004 with the blessing of the metropolitan priest Cyril, and soon afterwards the church “St. Prophet Ilia” was built with the help of donor funds. On 22 October, 2009 the renewed church was consecrated. The area where the monastery was built is famous for its spring with curative waters, which is believed to heal many diseases. That is why the area draws to people of different religions who gather and celebrate here. On the national holiday of Ilinden (St. Prophet Ilia’s Day), Muslims traditionally get together for a sacrificial rite in the area, while Christians come and spend the night here for health.
At the time of our visit there (springtime 2008) the monastery was undergoing serious construction works. A spacious residential wing that was planned to accommodate visitors was being built then.
By car one can reach the monastery by following the road to the town of Krushari. From there, it takes another 10km to get to the monastery: the cloister lies in northern direction on the way to the village of Alexandria. A short dirty road leads from the village of Alexandria straight to the monastery.