St. George the Victorious
The Kremikovtsi monastery, named St George, is located about 3km away from the quarter of Kremikovtsi, up in the lower parts of the Balkan mountain. While travelling on the way to the monastery, the visitor starts to feel sorry for having chosen it as a destination for the ugly places the road passes through – industrial sites and dilapidated corporate hostels for accommodation of blue-collar workers at the nearly steel mill. Yet after getting out of the very quarter of Kremikovtsi, one is taken by the beautiful landscape of the monastery’s surrounding, where no trace of the polluted air or the unpleasant view at the foot of the hills is to be found.
As most of the monasteries presented in this website, this cloister also dates back to the Second Bulgarian State – it is believed that the monastery was built at the time of Ivan Alexander. In 1382, when the Ottoman troops conquered the city of Sofia, the monastery was completely ruined. 111 years later, however, it was entirely reconstructed. The complex consists of two perpendicular residential buildings, an old church and a new church. No doubt, the older church, which represents a relatively small, oblong building, is of the biggest interest in terms of its historical value. The church was built in 1493 (later renovated in 1611) and it is that period that its frescoes date to. Most of the wall paintings have been (and are still being) restored to survive to present days. These are created entirely in tune with the Bulgarian tradition of the Middle Ages. The bulk of the frescoes are painted against a dark background, against which the images of saints stand out. The composition with the church’s patron, St George, on top of a white horse with his long spear stabbed into the dragon, is particularly impressive. One can notice differences in the styles of the wall paintings in the entrance and the main hall, which suggests the contribution of various artists to the internal decoration. The new church (1902) is a nicely looking building, which keeps the relics of the monastery – The Kremikovtsi New Testament of the Middle Ages (1497) with beautiful calligraphic scripts, and a wooden iconostasis dating back to the 17th century. The residential buildings, which are more than 250 years old and the foundation of which represents a simple construction of intertwined branches, were entirely repaired in the last few years. This monastery is considered to be one of the most valuable cultural monuments of the Middle Ages to be found on the Balkan peninsula.
At this stage, the Kremikovtsi monastery does not offer food or accommodation, despite the relatively large residential buildings. The main reason for this is that a single nun takes care of the maintenance of the entire complex. Yet the yard is full of wooden tables and benches, which look to a marvelous view to the city and can be used by visitors for a lunch with the food they bring. This, combined with the vicinity to the city makes the St George monastery an appropriate destination for a one-day trip of Sofia dwellers.
The monastery is easy to reach by car. One needs to leave the city and follow the direction towards Kremikovtsi. The way to the monastery starts from the main road in the former village and current quarter of Kremikovtsi and ends at the cloister’s gates. Tables are not to be found in between, but the dome of the new church is visible from a few kilometers’ distance and one can hardly get lost.