The Holy Trinity monastery, also known as the Patriarch’s monastery, lies about 10km away from the ancient town and ex-Bulgarian capital, Veliko Turnovo. The monastery has been built high above the town in an extraordinarily beautiful area, huddling at the foot of a vertical rocky massif.
The first sanctuary in the vicinity dates back to 1070. Later on, in 1368 a hermit, Teodosii of Turnovo, moved to a small cave formed in the rocky massif above the present-day monastery. As other monks started arriving here to seek spiritual advice from or just talk to Teodosii, the place was gradually transformed into a true community of monks. Soon afterwards, the future Patriarch Evtimii also joined the cloister and promptly became famous for his abilities in the first literary school in Bulgaria, established by the monks there. As Teodosii grew older, he gradually transferred his everyday tasks of running the monastery to Evtimii. Thus, after the sudden death of Teodossi in Tsarigrad (present-day Istanbul) during an oecumenical council, Evtimii became naturally father superior of the monastery. The monastery was supported by the authorities in the face of Ivan Alexander and Ivan Shishman who used to come to the cloister to talk to Teodosii and often provided financial support and food for the monks. At the end of the 14th century when the state was invaded by Ottoman troops, the then-Patriarch Evtimii was entrusted with gold by Ivan Shishman to buy out the capital if needed, while the tzar himself led his troops to the borders. Unfortunately, neither the Patriarch nor the tzar was able to save the country from falling under Ottoman domination. While the 300 monks of the monastery were slaughtered by the Ottomans, Patriarch Evtimii together with other high-ranked officials of Turnovo were lined up and forced to either convert to Islam or die. When the turn of Evtimii to make his choice came, the Patriarch declined to convert and was sentenced to death. The verdict was not executed though as the hand of the executioner froze in the air and could not move. This was taken by the Turks as a holy sign and the Patriarch was sent in exile instead. Shortly before the liberation from the Ottoman domination the monastery was restored with the famous master, Kolyo Fitcheto, having his contribution. The master rebuilt the church in 1848 while another famous artist of that time, Zahari Zograf, painted its frescoes. Unfortunately, an earthquake ruined the church and other buildings of the monastery in 1913. The design of the reconstructed church, kept till present days, is different from Kolyo Fitcheto’s one as it has domes, banned for Orthodox churches during Ottoman times. The monastery was a male one until 1946 when the first women came here, initially living in the staples and cattle-sheds. The current mother superior arrived in 1948 and is currently 84 years old. Due to her and the other nuns’ efforts, the monastery has grown in the past few decades. The oldest buildings that are still functioning date back to 1948, while the church in its present-day design is about 10 years old and is still being painted inside.
The monastery does not offer food and accommodation, Instead one can rent a room in a private house or in one of the many hotels of Veliko Turnovo and taste traditional Bulgarian cuisine in beautiful old-style restaurants and pubs in the town.
The road to the monastery starts in the suburbs of Veliko Turnovo close to the remains of Tzarevets fortress. It is surprisingly good as it was recently re-asphalted.