VRAČEŠKI MONASTERY “ST. FORTY MARTYRS ”VRAČEŠ VILLAGE
The monastery is located on the banks of the river Ceskovica in the mountain Murgash - part of the mountain Western Balkans. It is located about 4 km west of the village of Vraces, 7 km west of Botevgrad and 60 km east of Sofia. The Vrače Monastery was founded during the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 13th century. After the battle of Klokotnica on March 9, 1230, when Tsar Ivan Asen II defeated the despot of Epirus, Theodore Comnenus, on the day when the memory of the Holy Forty Martyrs is celebrated. Then the grateful victorious king built many churches and monasteries that bore their name. At the time of its founding, the monastery was male, and the monk brothers diligently copied and distributed liturgical books. In the seventeenth century, there was a monastery school in the Vrače Monastery. It is known that the monastery was burned down by the Turks at the end of the 14th century, it is not clear when it was renovated, but apparently a well-organized scriptorium was already operating here in the 16th century. In the National Library "St. St. Cyril and Methodius ”, transcripts of the Psalter from 1559, the Grammar of Meletius of Smotrit from 1666 and the Officer from 1673 were made in the monastery. In the 17th century, there was a monastery school in the monastery. During the riots in Kardzhali at the end of the 18th century, the monastery was set on fire again and the monks were killed. The monastery sank into oblivion until 1890, when legends speak of archeological excavations, encouraged by the local active priest Petar Canov. As a result of these studies, an icon was found among the excavated objects. This is the famous Vrače miraculous icon of the Mother of God from the 17th century. century, somewhat later in 1891. on the found foundations, a modest church was already built by the most famous master in the Botevgrad region at that time - the mouth of Vuna Markova. The monastery was gradually revived as a male monastery, and from 1937 it became a female one, which it is today. The first abbess of the holy monastery was Kasiana Puneva (1908 - 1975). Because of her great zeal in serving God, prayerful deeds and sacrificial love for her neighbor, her contemporaries called her a "living saint". In terms of construction, the monastery is a complex of churches, residential and commercial buildings. The monastery church is single-nave, single-apse, without a dome, with two porches - internal and open, above which rises the bell tower and the entrance from the west. The icon of the Mother of God is located in the nave, placed on a richly carved iconostasis. One of the most impressive frescoes is John's resurrection and ascension. A scene that is rarely shown on both eastern and western frescoes. The martyrs themselves are depicted on the north wall in front of the temple. In one of the residential buildings, a chapel dedicated to St. Clement of Ohrid. Near the monastery, on the right bank of the river, there is a monastery spring. Oštar vrh rises above the monastery, where the remains of the Gradište fortress (Češ Kovgrad) are located. Today, the monastery has been declared a cultural monument of architectural and artistic value.