There is hardly a richer region when it comes to monasteries than Elena and Turnovo. There are different routes to the monasteries described.
Kilifarevski monastery “Rozhdestvo Bogorodichno” is situated 20 km away from Miro’s Cottage on the road to Veliko Turnovo via Plakovo. There is a road sign to Kilifarevo in the center of Plakovo. It was found in 1348 by hesychast Teodosiy Turnovski with the support of king Ivan Alexander. Teodosiy Turnovski became an abbot of the monastery and laid the foundations of the literary school of Kilifarevo. In 1360 the school had 460 novices. One of the most famous disciples of the school is the first Bulgarian patriarchs – Evtimii Turnovski. In 1718 along with the general reconstruction of the monastery, a small church was built – it is called “Rozhdestvo Bogorodichno” and is situated in Gradishteto district. There are two chapels dedicated to Ivan Rilski and Teodosiy Turnovski which are preserved and can be visited. The wood carving of the iconostasis in the chapel of Teodosiy Turnovski is the distinguished work of woodcarverer of Teteven. Tel. 00359 6114/2480
Kapinovski monastery “St. Nikolay Chudotvorets” is situated 24 km away from Miro’s Cottage if you follow the asphalt road. You can reach it on foot as well – it is 5 km walk, approximately 2 hours. The direction is northwest through Height 744. It was built in 1272 on the shore of Veselina river. It flourished after the building of the residential area in 1856. The walls of the monastery are 8 m tall and 1,5 m wide. The architecture is impressive and leaves the impression of a medieval fortress. The icons at the wooden iconostasis were carved by the painter from Teteven Papa Vitan. There is a monumental wall painting of the Judgement Day in the main church “St Nikola”. Next to the Kapinovski monastery at the Veselina River, you can find the beautiful Kapinovski waterfall.
Plakovski monastery “Prorok Iliya” сis situated 2 km away from the Kapinovski monastery in the east. The monastery was built in 1280. In 1835 there was held the so called Velchova Zavera – a rebellion against the Ottomans which failed in the end. Under the belfry there is a memorable script by the participants in the rebellion. In 1845 the monastery church “St Iliya” was built in Atonian style – a rare occurrence in the Bulgarian architecture. In 1845 Zahariy Zograph painted an icon of Christ and the 12 apostles. In 1865 the master Nikola Filchev (Kolio Ficheto) built a magnificent 26 m belfry with a decorative façade, stone drinking fountain and two-floor residential wings.
Preobrazhenski monastery. It is situated 42 km away from Miro’s Cottage and 6 km away from Veliko Turnovo on the road to Ruse (E85) – there is a road sign you should follow. The monastery and the church “Sveto Preobrazhenie” were built in the 14th century. The art decoration by Zahari Zograph is impressive. In the course of 3 years (from 1849 to 1851) he had been working over some of the masterpieces of the revival art. His work on the altar of the temple (painting and icons) as well as the beautiful wall painting “The Wheel of Life” on the outside wall of the church deserve attention too. It is also interesting to see the master wood carving “The King’s Portals” from the 19th century.
Merdanski monastery “St 40 martyrs” is situated in the village of Merdanya is situated 12 km to the north of Elena. It was built in 1853 by the wealthy Hadzhi Kesariy Horozov from Elena on the place where in the Middle Ages there used to be a monastery. There are preserved icons from the 19th century painted mostly by representatives of the School of Tryavna like Tsenyu Simeonov. Tel: 00359 619/279
Maryanski monastery. It is situated 8 km away from Miro’s Cottage in the southeast. You can reach it via asphalt road. After you leave Elena on the road to Sliven, drive 3 km and you will reach the village of Maryan. The monastery is in the village. It was built in 1835 thanks to the joint forces and financial donations of the local people. It might be interesting for you to visit the Hristovski waterfall – not far from the monastery. You walk south against the current of Miykovska river via a marked eco route with separate recreation places – benches and barbeque. The waterfall is 9 m tall. If you like climbing, you can find suitable rocks about.