The Presentation of God's Mother to the Temple
The Kazanlak monastery “The Presentation of Mother God to the Temple” is situated in the very town of Kazanlak. The impressive complex is hidden behind a high and thick wall from the eyes of laymen.
The monastery was established in 1828 by Susana Gencheva, a nun at the Kalofer monastery “The Presentation of Mother God to the Temple”, who was born in Kazanlak. Susana had a dream of Mother God, who ordered her to go back to Kazanlak and establish a monastery there. The nun managed to get together eight other nuns and returned to Kazanlak. At first they were sheltered at the house of a citizen of Kazanlak, Ivancho Klatnata, who gave up his home and placed it at the nuns’ disposal. The nuns lived in poverty, as they earned their living by manufacturing and selling homespun and gloves and relied on the assistance of relatives. Later on, one of the nuns, Zinovia Stancheva, managed to get references and together with two other nuns left for Braila to visit her brother Dimitar Stanchev and try to raise donations. In Braila and Bucharest the nuns managed to raise the first 1000 grosha from Bulgarian emigrants and traders. Most of the funds (750 grosha) were used for the purchase of a land plot, over which the present-day monastery was erected. Then with the help of a Kazanlak-based man of wealth, Stoyan Gruylo, Zinovia Stancheva and another nun, Kapitolina Todorova, received a letter of permission to travel to Russia (Odessa, Kiev, St Petersburg) and went 8 consecutive times there to raise funds. With these donations the nuns started construction of the old residential and farming buildings, and in 1857 - of the church, named “The Presentation of Mother God to the Temple”. The architectural plan of the church was designed by a Russian architect upon the order of St Petersburg’s metropolitan priest Isidor – head of the Russian Synod. The church was constructed for 9 years by masters from the town of Debar – master Kozma and the construction workers Daniil, Zahari and Yosif. The church is unique for the territory of Bulgaria, as it represents a cross-domed building with no inside columns. The iconostasis was also ordered and paid by the metropolitan priest Isidor. A large part of the church’s decoration and plates were received from Russia, too. The interior of the church was richly painted by three Bulgarian Renaissance masters – priest Pavel from Shipka, who worked on the altar part, Georgi Danchev from the town of Chirpan, who worked on the dome’s paintings, and Petko Iliev Ganin – a close friend of the famous revolutionary Vassil Levski - who painted the nave’s part with 51 scenes from the New Testament. Later on, in 1838-1839 the bell-tower of the church was also erected. The monastery did not remain isolated from the Russian-Turkish Liberation War. On the 19th of July, 1877 military operations started in this region. Under the pressure of Turkish troops, Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers stepped back, while local people started to flee. A large part of the refugees were put up at the Kazanlak nunnery, but later on many of them were slaughtered by Turks. The nuns of the monastery, together with local people, made their way to the Balkan mountain in order to save their lives. The mother superior of the monastery, Kapitolina, reached Romania and returned after the end of the war. At the same time, the troops of Suleyman Pasha entered Kazanlak and some of them were put up at the monastery. At Christmas 1977, however, Turkish troops started to retrieve and set the church on fire after locking it up. While they were fleeing, however, the soldiers lost the key in the yard, so the nuns found it and managed to put out the fire. The wall paintings were smoked, but remained untouched. At the beginning of 1878, Russian troops came down to the town of Kazanlak for a short rest and recovery. Some of them were accommodated at the Kazanlak monastery, while nuns took care of those sick or wound. A military infirmary was arranged in the two-storey eastern building, while the graves of those who did not make it can be seen around the northeastern side of the church. A monument erected in the honour of the deceased Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers, as well the 340 citizens of Kazanlak that were slaughtered in the nunnery can be also seen in the yard. The monastery has been preserved and reconstructed, while the initial architectural plan has been kept. It is declared a monument of culture.
Neither food, nor accommodation is offered.
The monastery is located in the very centre of Kazanlak, so it is easy to reach.