Turzhishki (Strupetski) Monastery
St Prophet Ilia
The Turzhishki (or else known as Strupeshki) monastery named after St Prophet Iliya is situated in the northern part of the Gola Glava (Bald Head) hill in the Western Fore-Balkan, on the right-hand bank of the Iskar river. The monastery is located in a beautiful area nearby the river, about 4.5km away from the village of Strupets. Initially, the monastery was built in the Cherkovishteto area of the Kurnovska river that flows into the Iskar river. The present-day monastery lies 300m away from the Iskar river. It perks over a small hill above the village of Strupets to the west of the Strupets hillock, some 10km away from the town of Roman (Vratsa district). The Sofia-Varna railway line passes nearby the village of Strupets.
According to scarce historical information coming from the distant past, the Turzhishki /Strupeshki/ monastery has existed since the beginning of the 16th century. Once, there was a marketplace /turzhishte in Bulgarian/ in its surroundings, wherefrom its name “Turzhishki” came. In the end of the 17th century, the monastery was set on fire by the Turks, similarly to other churches and monasteries in those lands. The construction of the present-day monastery started in 1851. Its builder was Master Vatyo from the village of Brusen. It took 6 years to build the monastery without any machinery. Construction materials were transported by oxcarts and all works were hand-made. The roof was made of stone plates. Construction works ended in 1857 while the monastery was consecrated on April 15, 1857 by the Vratsa-based bishop Dorotey. The monastery has given shelter and protection to the Apostle of the Bulgarian Freedom, Vassil Levski, as well as another renowned revolutionary, Nikola Obretenov. It was set on fire three times and in 1972, about 2/3rds of it were destroyed. The room of Vassil Levski was destroyed then, too, and it has never been restored afterwards. A renowned man of letters and also a religious person, Damaskin Hilendarets, worked and lived in the monastery. In addition, during the establishment of a national revolutionary organisation, the monastery hosted Vassil Levski and the son of a famous Bulgarian woman, Baba (Grandmother) Tonka – Nikola Obretenov. The two established a local revolutionary committee in the village of Strupets that was joined by the then-father of the monastery, Hieromonk Pantaleymon. Under the request of Vassil Levski, Nikola Obretenov spent one more month at the monastery than Levski, helping with the establishment of local revolutionary committees in the villages of Karash, Kurnovo, Vidrare, etc. A small one-nave church, made of stones, is hidden in the shadows of high-rising trees in the spacious inner yard of the monastery. This old church is 4.95m wide and 7.39m long and has a semi-cylindrical vault arch and small openings, pressed against by heavy stone plates. Following its restoration after the series of destructions, the church was opened in 1824 by Dimitraki Toshev. Hieromonk Paisiy from the Golzhene monastery was summoned to serve as the first father of the monastery. The church was named “St Nikolay the Miracle-Worker”. Its architectural plan suggests that the church was first built in the 16-17th century when it was most likely painted, too. The foundations of the church are hollow, which produces a mystic acoustic effect inside it. Three graves, dating back to 1888, as seen by the inscriptions on them, are to be found next to the church. Even if substantially destroyed, the ancient frescoes of the church provoke interest with their realistic tendencies and rich architectural decoration. A new church, built in 1991 and currently serving the religious needs of pilgrims, stands out in the yard together with an ancient stone fountain and the small medieval church. It gives a particular charm to the marvelous natural landscape surrounding the monastery.
The monastery avails of 55 beds for its guests. Each of the rooms has its own bathroom supplied with hot water.
The monastery can be reached by train to the village of Strupets and then on foot, or by car.