The Skravena monastery “St Nikolay” is situated outside the village of Skravena in northern direction, some 1.5km away from the E-79 main road. The village of Skravena in turn is a part of the Botevgrad municipality, Sofia district. The monastery is clearly seen from the E-79 road, as it lies on a hill.
It is believed that the place where the present-day Skravena monastery stands was initially used as a pagan sanctuary. The sanctuary most probably gave way to a Christian church during the rule of the Bulgarian king Petar. Thereafter, the fate of the monastery had been closely connected to the history of Gramade – an old settlement that has not survived to present days. Excavations in the 1938-1941 period led by Priest Philip Ivanov and carried out by several citizens of Skravena marked launched the accumulation of knowledge on the monastery’s past. The exactions were made in close proximity to a centuries’ old oak with a cross that leaned against it that was used as a holy place ever since the times of Turkish rule of Bulgaria. The holiday of the holy place was marked every year on the 9th of May. At their very beginning, the excavations uncovered a strong, 80-100cm-thick wall made of stone and mortar. The excavations continued around the external side of the wall and the team came across the foundations of a church that was set of fire and covered with earth. Further work on the place also unveiled a cell with dimensions of 3.5m and 4m, which had a fireplace inside. It is believed that the fireplace was used for preparation of food for a large number of people. Six skeletons of people in different positions were also found during the exactions. According to one theory, the skeletons belonged to men that took part in the defense of the monastery and Gramade against the invading Turks. Gramade is known to have given a decisive repulse against the Ottoman troops but was thoroughly destroyed by the latter some 80 years after the fall of the capital city of Veliko Turnovo. According to another theory, that is built upon the different positions in which the skeletons were found (one lying and the rest – sitting), the skeletons represented buried Slavs and one Protobulgarian that lived at the time of the pagan sanctuary, over which the Christian monastery was later erected. The remains of another church, believed to have carried the name of “Assumption of the Holy Mother”, have been found some 120m away from the excavated objects above. Apart from the mentioned ruins of a monastery and a church, an area called Prechista where another cross can be found, lies up the hill. The cross that also marks a holy place is believed to have been placed over the ruins of another church that most probably carried the name of St Dimitar. At present, a new church rises over the excavated foundations of the old one. The construction work was supported by many Christians, but a nun named Lyudmila (1899-1986) had a particular contribution. The nun arrived to Skravena in 1944 after a dream in which she saw St Nikolay, who mandated her to quit her secular way of life and dedicate to monachism. Lyudmila devoted her entire life to the construction of the monastery, raising funds for a long time. Despite frequent insults and slanders, the nun managed to bring the construction work to a successful end and the cells were finished in 1946. After her death in 1986, the nun was buried beneath the centuries’ old oak, while Priest Vassil Deliev took care of the monastery. The church was recently painted thanks to the help of the mayor of the Botevgrad municipality, Georgi Georgiev, the mayor of the village of Skravena, Ivan Ivanov, and people from the village of Skravena. The church holiday of the Skravena monastery is still marked on the 9th of May each year, while the old oak can be seen next to the church. The oak is about 500 years’ old and is 25 metres high. At present, no nuns or monks live in the monastery but the complex is kept by Hypodeacon Daniel Kostov and receives worshippers. The monastery is included in the list of National Tourist Sites under number 82.
Food is not offered, but the monastery avails of a dining hall with a fireplace for some 15 people. Accommodation is possible for up to 6 people following prior warning. Wedding and baptizing ceremonies are carried out at St. Nikolay by the parish priest.
The road from the village of Skravena to the monastery is passable for cars even at times of unfavourable weather conditions, despite the fact that it is covered with gravel. The road will soon become an asphalt one, while signs to the monastery are being prepared, too.
Overall Rating: 9.50
Our Presentation: 10.00
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