The town of Troyan (altitude 400m) is located in Northern Bulgaria, at the foot of the Troyan-Kalofer side of the Stara Planina Range, on both banks of the Beli Ossum River. Not far from the Troyan Pass, it lies 160 km north-east of Sofia. Troyan has a mountain climate of the temperate continental type.
The Troyan Monastery, the third largest monastery in Bulgaria, is situated on the banks of the Ossum River. It is believed that it was founded by a hermit who built a small hut on the site several years after the fall of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Having won the respect of the local people, the hermit built a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Until 1830 the monastery had a turbulent history. It was frequently attacked and destroyed, together with its monks. In 1830 the monastery shook off its burdensome dependence on the Greek bishops in the Lovech parish and soon after that developed into a major spiritual and cultural center.
What strikes the visitor to this holy place is the harmony of its parts, although they were built by different masters at different times. The monks’ buildings are three or four-storied, with open balconies facing the inner courtyard. The columns and parapets follow the style of the Old Bulgarian church schools. The murals are the work of Zachary Zograph from the Samokov School. Particularly impressive is his self-portrait but also the portraits of monastery sponsors, the icons featuring Bible scenes, the portraits of the brothers Cyril and Methodius and the representation of the 27 monks that lived in the monastery at that time. Along with fine examples of church painting, the Trojan monastery boasts a collection of beautiful artifacts. Of great interest is the wonder-working icon ‘The Three-Armed Madonna” brought to the monastery in the 17th century by a monk from Mt. Athos. He spent a night at the monastery and on leaving took the icon with him. Strangely enough, the icon returned to the monastery. He tried again and again to take it but the icon invariably returned to the monastery. In the end he realized that he had to leave it.
The Troyan monastery gave refuge to the Apostle of Freedom Vassil Levski who established a revolutionary committee in it. After the April Uprising broke out in 1876, the voivodas Panayot Volov, Georgui Ikonomov and Toma Hitov used the monastery as their headquarters. The cell where they discussed revolutionary matters is well preserved. During the Russo-Turkish liberation war the monastery was transformed into an infirmary.
The Troyan Monastery is open to visitors daily from 8:00am to 9:00pm.