St Forty Martyrs
The Merdanya monastery “St Forty Martyrs” is situated in the eastern end of the village of Merdanya (Veliko Turnovo region), on the main road connecting the town of Veliko Turnovo with the town of Elena.
Remains of a medieval monastery, believed to date back to the rule of Tsar Ivan Assen II, have been found about 1.5km away from the present-day monastery in an area called Ushite (the Ears). At the time Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the old monastery was ruined down, while its properties were taken by Turkish ‘beys’ (administrators). In the middle of the 19th c. a rich citizen of Elena, Hadzhi Kesarii Horozov, bought out the former estates of the monastery. In 1853, he built a church and residential buildings with his own funds and became father superior of the newly opened monastery. The church is a one-nave building with a spacious entrance and high dome. At first it was not painted. Later, after its restoration in 1982-1984 it was painted with frescoes. It still preserves some icons of the 19th century, too, most of which were painted by representatives of the Tryavna school of arts such as Zograf Tsenyu Simoeonov. During the Bulgarian people’s liberation struggle, the father superior, Kesarii Horozov, took part in the Velcho’s Plot, as well as became a close collaborator of Vassil Levski. Archimandrite Hadzhi Kesarii had graduated a Bucharest-based religious secondary school but this background did not prevent him from showing notable construction skills, too. The fountain he built in the yard as well as the high walls surrounding the monastery, are still used. The father superior also opened a religious evening school at the monastery that was visited by residents of Merdanya and neighbouring villages. Following the death of Hadzhi Kesarii in 1893, most of the monks left the monastery and the latter gradually decayed. Later it was repaired and was transformed into a female one – which it still is.
The monastery offers accommodation only to large groups (20-30 people) following preliminary booking. Bookings can be made on the following phone: 279, village of Merdanya, Veliko Turnovo region.
The monastery is easy to reach down a good asphalt road. The monastery as well as the village of Merdanya lie on the main road connecting the towns of Veliko Turnovo and Elena.