The monastery church St. Holy Trinity lies to the northwest of the village of Dushintsi and some 4km to the southwest of the village of Erul in the Pernik region. The remains of what was once a monastery complex can be found amidst a centuries’ old beech-tree forest in an area named the Monastery. The village of Erul, in turn, is situated at the foot of the Erul Mountain, the highest peak of which is named Golemi Vruh - literally High Peak – 1481m. The mountain is particularly severe for its steep ridges and centuries’ old beech trees but also rather beautiful with its clear springs and two caves, called ‘yamki” (“small holes”) by local people. The snow cover here stays until late springtime.
According to historical sources, the area once hosted a small orthodox monastery that existed during the Second Bulgarian State between 11th and 14th c. The only building of the former religious complex that has been preserved to present day is the small one-nave monastery church, named St. Holy Trinity. The church had been repeatedly destroyed partly or completely during the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria’s lands. It was last restored in 1892 and then consecrated in 1900. Two centuries’ old trees – a beech and an ash-tree - that are believed to have been planted some 900 years ago rise in front of the main entrance, just several metres away from the church. According to a local legend, the two trees grew in the place where Turkish soldiers slaughtered the prettiest girl of Erul, named Buka (Beech) and her beloved one, Yasen (Ash-Tree), during the first decades of Turkish rule. According to another legend, a local girl’s shadow was built into the foundations of the church during its reconstruction in 1832. Father Metody, who was the last monk to live in the monastery until his death in 1958 had repeatedly told the story of a girl’s ghost dressed in white that he had seen at night coming out from behind “the Altar” to the left of the front door (a ritual monolithic stone bloc believed to be of ancient pagan origin) and wandering in the woods. The rectangular nave of the monastery is covered with a semicylindrical vault and ends with a hemispheric apse. The roof is covered with roof tiles. The architecture of the church is deliberately simplified and has no ornamentals. The ratio between height and width is 1:1 - typical for monastery churches of that time. The northern wall is windowless, but has several alcoves that ease the supporting construction. The altar inside the church is separated via a wooden iconostasis with carved floral ornamentals. It is entirely painted. The frames that separate the icons from each other are painted dark blue and dark green, while the saints’ images are represented by colour imprints. A holy spring with ice cold waters that never dry out can be seen some 35-40 metres away from the church. Another 18 metres away from that spring one can see the remaining foundations of the former church. According to local people’s memories, that church had marvelous wall paintings. The building collapsed around 1900. Walls of monks’ cells that had been destroyed in 1956-1958 can be seen next to it. The foundations of the monastery’s former dairy house are also visible. A marble plate that commemorates the heroic past of the region can be seen to the right of the entrance. An icon of the Holy Trinity hangs just above the entrance of the church. The origin of “Erul” - the village next to which the monastery was erected - is subject to academic debate. Yet, the explanation of prof. V. Zlatarski probably sounds as the most convincing to date. According to him, the root of “Erul” comes from the name of the German tribe of Heruli that inhabited those lands during the Great Migration of people. Excavated remains of cinder from their metal manufacturing come as another piece of evidence in support of that theory. Moreover, the toponymy of the region contains other names of Gothic origin, too – for instance, a nearby area is named Klage.
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