Ivanovo Rock Churches

Useful Information

Location: 5km outside Ivanovo, 25km south of Ruse. (43.8 N 26.0 E)
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Guided tours:
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1979 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


In an area with natural caves, monks hewed about 20 churches, chapels, and cells out of the limestone using the existing possibilities. The caves were inhabited from the 13th century (Gospodev Dol Chapel and Buried Under Church) until the 17th century. The monks were grammarians and bookmen. They used the walls to make mural paintings, which range among the most essential monuments of medieval painting in Eastern Europe. That is the reason, they were included into the UNESCO world heritage list.

The main church of the monastery is the Holy Virgin church. It shows a portrait of Tsar Ivan Alexander. He is holding a model replica of the church, which is typical for donor's portraits. In the so-called Demolished Church is a portrait of Tsar Ivan Alexander's first wife Teodora, who adopted the name Teofana when she became a nun. The church-donor's portrait in the Buried Under Church is probably Tsar Ivan Asen II.