Бачково (Bachkovo, also
Batchkovo, Batschkowo). The full name of the monastery is Batschkowski Manastir.
Bachkovo lies less than 30 km south of →Plovdiv and occupies the
beautiful Chepelarska valley. There's a small river called Aseniza.
At Bachkovo, the Rodopi mountain range, dominating the south of Bulgaria, starts.
Population: Nowadays, some 50 monks live and work here. And pray. Probably. Ora et labora.
Bachkovo monastery was already founded in 1083 by the two Bakuriani brothers, who came here
from →Georgia. From the beginning, the monastery was dedicated to
the Holy Virgin Mary. The monastery itself offers an interesting (some people might say chaotic) blend of different architectural
styles. To be exactly, it combines Georgian, Armenian and Syrian elements and can be compared to
some of the buildings in and around →Melnik. In the year 1346,
Tsar Ivan Alexander made this part of the Rodopi range the centrepiece of his empire. Thanks to that,
the monastery experienced its heyday. However, during the 16th century, Bachkovo was abandoned. Some dozen years later,
it was reactivated. Today, monks live again here and take care of the facilities. The main source of income is tourism.
There's no train running in this part of the country. But there are numerous buses and microbuses running between the bus terminal
in →Plovdiv (near the train station) direction Rodopi. Almost all buses running to
→Smolyan and other cities in the south stop in Asenovgrad.
From there, microbuses run to Bachkovo. The fare is less than 2 Leva, the whole trip takes around 40 minutes only.