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History links the name of Sophronius of Vratsa also with another monastery
quite remote from the Kapinovo one - the Cherepish Monastery. Like all
other Bulgarian monasteries, it also rises above a river - the Iskar,
more precisely in its pass through the Balkans.
Throughout centuries, it was inhabited by men of letters, translators
and calligraphers who have left us with such valuable works as the Cherepish
Gospel of the 16th century, bound in 1512 with gold covers and depicting
scriptural scenes; the Gospel of the Monk Danail, Jacob's Book of Apostles
(both dating from the 17th century), and the Margarit collection of
sermons and precepts compiled by Priest Todor of Vratsa in 1762.
The approximate date of the monastery's emergence is certified in wilting:
a deed recorded between 1390 and 1396 is kept today at Sofia's Church
Historical and Archaeological Museum. Some of the murals in the old
church were possibly painted about the mid-19th century by Tryavna artists,
but are badly damaged. The loss is somewhat compensated by the skilfully
carved iconostasis and bishop's throne.
Popular Name: Cherepish Monastery
Orthodox Name: Assumption of Virgin Mary
Location: The Cherepish monastery, named “The Assumption of Virgin Mary”, is to be found 29km to the southeast of the town of Vratza, in the Iskar defile of the Balkan mountain – the latter widely known for its unique richness of natural forms and sights.
History and general info: The origin of the Cherepish monastery dates to the Second Bulgarian State. It was built during the rule of Tsar Ivan Shishman (1371-1393), if judging from a document, preserved in the Sofia church, historical and archeological museum. During the time of the Ottoman domination, the cloister was ruined and set on fire more than once. At the end of the 16th century, it was reconstructed by St Pimen of Sofia. During the times of the Bulgarian Renaissance, the monastery grew into a cultural and educational centre. It hosted a monastery school, while books, saints’ biographies and gospels were written and rewritten there. Relics such as the Cherepish Gospel, enclosed in golden bindings in 1512 and decorated with scenes from the bible, as well as the Gospel of Monk Danail and the Book of the Apostles of Jacob, all date to that period. St Sofronii of Vratza seeks and finds shelter in the monastery in 1797. Between 1872 and 1876, the monastery is visited by the Vratza revolutionary committee, plotting against the Turks, and the central revolutionary committee. The Rashov Dol place, where the last battle of Botev’s detachment of rebels against the Turks, led by Georgi Apostolov, lies in the neighbourhood of the Cherepish monastery. In addition, the cloister was visited by the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov in 1889 and 1907, while in 1897 another renowned author, Aleko Konstantinov, dropped by here during his tour of the region. Following his visit to the monastery, Konstantinov publishes one of his popular travel notes, Bulgarian Switzerland.
Old Christian churches have been found in the area surrounding the monastery. A large part of the cloister was renovated and restored in recent times. A monastery school has been open for year at the monastery, the theological institute and the Sofia orthodox seminary. The numerous picturesque buildings of the cloister, most of which were build leave a strong impression on visitors around 1836 by father Yosif. The St George’s church which keeps its original design and a part of its frescoes (painted in the 19th century by a priest, Yoanikii) despite repeated reconstructions, together with the bone-vault, which perches from a steep rock over one of the buildings, stands out among the buildings in the complex. The church represents a one-nave building with a spacious entrance, an open gallery and a pointed dome. An iconostasis with fine woodcarvings and a representation of the burial of Christ, embroidered in 1844, are some of the impressive items of the interior. The Cherepish monastery is a declared monument of culture of national significance.
Accommodation and food: Despite the presence of a few spacious residential buildings, the Cherepish monastery does not offer food or accommodation to tourists. Nevertheless, a restaurant is to be found quite close to it, while a good accommodation option represents the nearby Osenovlak monastery, which lies about 20 km away.
Transport: The Cherepish monastery is easy to reach by car if one sets off from Sofia, following the road to Mezdra, which goes down the Iskar river’s defile. A small asphalt offroad, which leads to the gates of the monastery starts about 15km before one enters Mezdra.