The Kapinovo monastery, named “St Nikola”, is built near the Veselina river in the skirts of the beautiful Elena ridge of the Balkan Mountain. The monastery lies 18km to the south of the town of Veliko Turnovo. When looked at from the north, it resembles strikingly a medieval fortress.
The exact date of the monastery’s initial construction is not known, but according to a notice found on the monastery church’s apse, a church, named “Holy Trinity”, was built in this place as early as in the year 1272. According to some legends, the monastery was established by Tsar Ivan Assen II. During the period of the Second Bulgarian State, “St Nikola” became an important religious centre. With the fall of Turnovo under Ottoman rule, the monastery was set on fire and destroyed. It was no earlier than the late 17th century when countrymen from the surrounding villages managed to get the Turkish authorities’ approval for its reconstruction. The most recent renewal of the monastery dates to the early 19th century. The present-day church was built in 1835, while in 1864, two patriotic brothers from the town of Elena donated a substantial sum of money for the construction of new residential buildings for the monastery’s monks. The monastery played an important role during the Bulgarian Renaissance period. In 1830, it started to host a literary school while in 1860, it helped in the organisation of the Hadzhi Stavri rebellion. The monastery also took part in the preparations for the April Uprising. Massive wooden gates and steep stone stairs lead to the monastery yard and the monastery’s church, which rises in its centre. The church hosts a rich collection of icons, including one of Our Lady, most likely painted by Pope Vitan, and iconographic works from the near-by Plakovo monastery.
The monastery is open to visitors from 7am to 7pm and offers accommodation.
The monastery is easy to reach from Veliko Turnovo by following the road to the village of Velchevo. The monastery is about 5km away from the village.