St. Arhangel Michael
The Kokalyane cloister, St Archangel Michael, is also known as the Urvich monastery. It is situated amid a beautiful scenery of the Plana mountain, about 4km away from the village of Kokalyane (in the outskirts of the city of Sofia) and some 6km to the northeast of the village of Zheleznitsa.
Originally, the Kokalyane monastery dates back to the Second Bulgarian State. According to legends and historical documents, it was built at the beginning of the 11th century, during the rule of Tsar Samuil. During the Ottoman rule, the cloister was set on fire twice. It was completely restored only after the Liberation with a new church (1896) taking the place of the previous one ruined in 1858. The church stands in the middle of the inner yard, and represents a relatively large one-nave building without a dome. Besides it, the complex also includes two residential buildings, two chapels, farmyards and a beautiful bell-tower, constructed in 2000. The entire complex is surrounded by a thick, two-meter high wall. A famous relic, the so-called Urvich Collection, consisting of laudatory words for Archangels Michael and Gavriil (including the one written by the famous man of letters, Kliment of Ohrid) was found in the Kokalyane monastery. In 1969, the monastery was declared a monument of culture.
Neither food nor accommodation is offered there or in the neighbourhood. That makes the place a convenient destination for a one-day trip out of the city of Sofia.
It is relatively hard to get to St Archangel Michael. One can either get to the centre of the village of Kokalyane and then set off down a bad dirty road (on food or by a van or jeep), or alternatively, take a walk down a tourist path (40-50 minutes), which starts from the mouth of the Egilya river. The mouth lies on the road from Sofia to Samokov and is hard to miss because of a noticeable bridge there.