The Transfiguration monastery is built in an extremely picturesque place, about 10 km away from the ancient fortress of Tsarevets. It lies at the foot of vertical rocks on the left bank of the Yantra river, down on the way from Veliko Turnovo to Rousse. The yard of the monastery offers a marvellous view to the defile of the river and the opposite rocky hill, the foot of which shelters another monastery, the Patriarch’s “Holy Trinity”.
The Transfiguration monastery was established in the 14th century and is still functioning at present. Unfortunately, none of the original buildings are kept to date – the entire present-day complex was built in the 19th century. The “St Transfiguration” church also dates back to that time. Its construction was started by the Dimitar of Sofia master (later captured and hanged by the Ottomans for his taking part in the famous Velcho’s plot against the Ottoman Empire) and finished by a famous architect of that time, Kolcho Fitcheto. The church has a unique design, which is hardly comparable to any other shrine in a Bulgarian monastery. The picturesque wall paintings, created by another renowned artist, Zahari Zograf, is also imposing on visitors. Over a period of three years, from 1849 to 1851, Zahari works over some of the masterpieces of the Bulgarian Renaissance art. His work on the altar, as well as the beautiful fresco on the outer wall, named “The Cycle of Life”, deserve the biggest attention. The masterly woodcarving, called The King’s Gates, made in the 19th century is also of interest. Some time ago, there used to be two smaller churches in the neighbourhood. Regretfully, these were destroyed by the slide of rocks 25 years ago. The monks’ dwellings with their spacious verandas, again designed by Kolyo Fitcheto, remind of the classical style of the Bulgarian Renaissance. At present, 13 monks live there.
Even if the monastery is acting as such and the complex is spacious, food and accommodation are not offered. One can instead take the few minutes’ drive back to Veliko Tunovo, where the regular flow of tourists ensures a good supply of restaurants and hotels.
The offroad to the Transfiguration monastery is about 6km away from the suburbs of Veliko Turnovo off the main road to Rousse. The offroad is signed.
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