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This is one of the few preserved and accessible rock monasteries in
Bulgaria, dating from the early Middle Ages and conforming to the hesychastic
idea of silence, asceticism and moral perfection. Monastic cells and
a small church have been dug into a sheer rock, 14 km from the city
of Varna and close to the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands. Differently
coloured 13th-14th century frescoes are still discernible on its walls.
Popular Name: Aladzha Monastery
Orthodox Name: Aladzha Monastery
Location: The Aladzha rock monastery is situated only a few kilometers south of the Riviera Holiday Club and Golden Sands sea resorts and is also a part of the Zlatni Pyasatsi natural park. The distance to Varna is 16 km.
History and general info: The name of Aladzha monastery comes from the Turkish word for colourful ("aladzha") due most probably to the bright colours of its wall paintings, dating back to the early Middle Ages. The monk's cells, common rooms and sanctuaries, dug directly into the limestone rock and situated on two levels high above the ground, were connected via an external staircase. The lower floor hosted the monks' private cells, common rooms (i.e. kitchen, dining room) and a small church, while the upper level was dedicated entirely to a chapel. According to some historians, primitive monks' cells were built and inhabited already in the 4th century AC. The entire monastery is considered to date back to the 12th century AC. Unfortunately, nowadays only few of the frescoes are preserved (most of these to be found in the chapel) but the experience of visiting a monastery dug high above the ground into a steep rock is unforgettable. The monastery is declared a cultural sight and houses a small museum. Less than a kilometer away from the Aladzha Monastery, one can find a similar monastery complex, called Katakombite (The Catacombs). Katakombite has an origin and history similar to those of the Aladzha Monastery, though its remains are far less preserved.
Accommodation and food: The Aladzha monastery is not a functioning cloister and does not offer accommodation or food. Nevertheless, there is a rich choice of such facilities in the nearby resorts of Golden Sands and St. Konstantin and Elena.
Transport: The Aladzha rock monastery can be reached easily from Varna and Golden Sands by car or bus with the distance from the bus stop being only a five-minute walk.