St Theodore Stratilat
The Balsha monastery “St. Theodore Stratilat” lies to the north of Sofia, over a clear height in the southern slopes of the Western Balkan Mountain. It is situated some 1.5 km to the northeast of the village of Balsha and some 10km to the northwest of the town of Novi Iskar.
Balsha villagers retell the story of an old monastery that existed here during the 12th century. Initially, it hosted about 500 monks, while in more recent times it was home to some 20 nuns. Lastly, the monastery was inhabited by 2 monks. At the time our team visited it, however, no monks or nuns were to be seen, the church was locked, while the monastery complex was undergoing repair works with the only people to be beheld around being construction workers. The construction of the present-day monastery started in 1977. It was the church that was first restored, while residential buildings were built later on. Currently, the complex consists of a one-nave, one-apse church with a narthex and no dome, and residential buildings.
Neither food, not accommodation is offered.
The Balsha monastery can be reached by car if one crosses the Sofia Circular Road following the way to the village of Mramor. After passing through Mramor, one needs to turn right to the village of Dobroslavtsi. Another turn right follows from the centre of Dobroslavtsi. After a circular crossroad is reached (within some 100m. after the last turn), one needs to take the road to the village of Balsha. Several kilometers after leaving the village of Dobroslavtsi, a dirty road starts to the right that leads straight to the monastery. The monastery itself is easily seen in the distance.