St. Prophet Ilia
The Ilientsi monastery “St Prophet Ilia” is situated in the Sofia quarter of Ilientsi, on 13 Petunia st. “St Prophet Ilia” is one of few Bulgarian monasteries that are built in the field and in close proximity to houses. It consists of a church, a one-storey residential building, a fountain and a wooden belltower next to it.
According to some sources, the Ilientsi monastery was established in the 12th c., while according to others it appeared in the late 16th, early 17th c. Only the eastern part of the present-day church has survived from the original monastery to date. Three layers of wall-paintings have been uncovered in the church. The initial decoration of the church was made in the 16-17th c., as most other churches in the Sofia region were painted in that period, too. In terms of style and themes, the frescoes of the Ilientsi monastery resemble those in the Kurilo, Eleshnitsa and other monasteries in the region and are related to the works and influence of Pimen Zograf. This first layer of frescoes had been covered with lime, and it can be studied in few places where the lime had been cleaned. The second period of painting followed the church’s expansion and reconstruction in the late 17th c. The third layer of frescoes was painted in 1832, as an inscription in the church reads. The most probable painter of this layer is Toma Vishanov from the Bansko school, who also painted the “Shroud of Virgin Mary” church in the Rila monastery. The 1832-dated frescoes show clearly an attempt for realistic depiction of objects and figures. Unfortunately, during our visit in November 2007 the church was closed after a flood and visitors could enter only its narthex, which is also richly painted. At present, the monastery is being kept by a layman and no monks or nuns live there. The church holiday is marked on July 20. The monastery is declared a monument of culture.
Neither food, nor accommodation is offered.
The monastery is easy to find as it is situated in the very quarter of Ilientsi in Sofia.