Birth of Christ
The Shipka monastery “Birth of Christ” rises above the town of Shipka in the skirts of the central Balkan mountain.
The monastery was built in living memory to the Russian soldiers and Bulgarian revolutionaries who died during the Russian-Turkish Liberation War of 1877-1878. The funds needed for the construction of the monastery were raised from donors mostly in Russia, but also in Bulgaria upon the initiative of Olga Skobeleva, mother of the Russian general Skobelev and count Ignatiev. Construction works started in 1885 and finished in 1902 under the guidance of Russian architects. Initially, the monastery was Russian property, but in 1934, it was donated by the Soviet government to the Bulgarian state. The “St Nikolay” church is a true architectural masterpiece, built in the traditional style of 17th-century Russian cathedrals. The church, declared a monument of culture, shines with its colourful mosaic decoration and golden domes from a big distance. It has one central dome and 4 smaller gilted ones with golden crosses on top. A 53-meter high belltower with 17 bells (the biggest of which weighs almost 12 tons) rises right next to the western façade of the church. Inside the church, visitors can see 24 mosaic plates with the names of 18,491 Bulgarians and Russians who gave their lives during the struggles at the Shipka peak and in the neighbourhood of Kazanluk. The church’s walls were painted twice – first in 1902 by G. Mesoedov and A. Mitov, and then again in 1957-1959 by a team of wall-painters, headed by N. Rostovtsev.
At present, the monastery operates as a museum (a part of the Shipka-Buzludzha national park museum), and hence does not offer food and accommodation.
The Shipka monastery is situated closely to the town of Shipka, 8km away from the town of Kazanluk. The domes of the church can be seen from the outskirts of the villages.