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The Samokov Convent – an oasis of spirituality at the foot of Rila Mountain

The town of Samokov offers its guests interesting cultural routes. One of them leads to the gate of the convent in the town centre

Photo: Veneta Nikolova

This holy place was founded in 1772 as a convent of the Hilendar Monastery on Mount Athos. Over the decades, the convent of the Protection of the Mother of God (Pokrov Bogorodichen) was expanded as new buildings donated by locals were added to the main building. In the 19th century, the convent became a centre of active educational activity. About a hundred nuns were already serving in it at that time. It also opened a cell school for girls who were trained in reading, writing, arithmetic, Greek, religion, singing, but they also learned how to weave, sew and embroider, as befitted any young woman at the time.

The church of the Samokov convent was built in 1837-39. Some of the icons in the church are the work of the famous Bulgarian icon painter Dimitar Zograf, brother of Zahari Zograf - one of our most prominent Revival Period painters, who also left one creation of his in the church. It is the master Zahari Zograf who is credited with the unique mural "The Winged Mother of God", in which the Holy Mother is depicted with ….wings. When creating it, the artist was inspired by the legend of saving Samokov from the Ottoman army. The Mother of God lowered a thick fog over the town and thus hid it from the eyes of the invader, the legend says

Nowadays the Samokov convent is an actively functioning place of worship. Tourists often stop here to see the church and its unique frescoes, light a candle and talk to the nuns, who readily introduce them to the tumultuous history of the holy cloister.

You can learn more about this spiritual oasis at the foot of the Rila Mountain from Radio Bulgaria’s publication “Life of Prayer – the Samokov Convent”.

Compiled by Veneta Nikolova

English version Rositsa Petkova

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