Ivanovo Rock Churches

The rock monastery “St. Archangel Michael” is situated 22 km from Ruse, in close proximity to the village of Ivanovo, within the borders of Natural Park “Rusenski Lom”. An asphalted road with designative board signs leads to the complex, and there is a parking lot at the foot of the rocks. A stair system in the rocks provides access for visitors to the various churches and chapels in the region.

The monastery was founded in the 1220s by the monk Yoakim, who later became a Bulgarian patriarch. The Bulgarian tsars Yoan Asen ІІ (1218-1241), Yoan Alexander (1331-1371) and other representatives of the royal court, were among the monastery donators, and their donor’s portrait are preserved to the present day.

The monastery joins a number of complexes of rock premises. Wall-paintings which show the specifics of Bulgarian church art in the 13th – 14th century are preserved in six of the temples. During the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th – 14th century) the monastery was established as a great spiritual and educational center. Wall inscriptions in the cells provide information about important historical events.

The wall paintings in the church “St. Mary” are world famous. They are among the most representative models of Paleologus Art on the Balkan Peninsula. Their exceptional artistic qualities are the reason for their inclusion by UNESCO in the list of the global cultural inheritance.

In the 14th century the monastery become a center of hesychasm – a mystic trend in Orthodox Christianity. The Ivanovo Rock Complex had also existed during the early ages of the Ottoman Dominion, but it had gradually declined.
In 1978 it was declared a National Archaeological Reservation. Nowadays the monastery is not active.

In 2004 the whole complex was renovated for tourists under a project implemented by Ruse Regional Administration and financed by EU PHARE Programme.

Availability for visits: Yes, Paid, Seasonal, Guide available

Transport accessibility: Republican road network, municipal road. Rusenski Lom is located 30 km away from Ruse. The the church “St. Mary” is reached by a road or a marked path.

Tourist infrastructure: There are signs on the main road to Ruse. In the village of Ivanovo there is a Tourist Information Centre and it provides complete information about the region, brochures and maps. The rock complexes are located 4 km east of the village of Ivanovo - there are brown and white signs to orientate you. Working time: from Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. A guided tour is available.

In addition the Sveshtari tomb could be visited.