Troyan – 30 min

Golets to Troyan is 30 min drive so you should consider, there is a stunning monastery!

The town of Troyan is located in the center of The Stara Planina (The Central Balkan Range), some 160 km northeast of Sofia and about 30 km east of Golets. The city is situated on the banks of the Cherni Osam River at an elevation of 450 meters above sea level. The Troyan Pass, which facilitates transportation to southern Bulgaria, is 22 km South from the town of Troyan. The town has a population of 22,000 people.

Archeological excavations of the Troyan region have revealed that the area was a Thracian settlement as early as the 11th-10th centuries BCE. The Thracians gave the Central Balkan Range its original name – The Hemus Range. The name Troyan comes from the Latin name for the Roman road through the area Via Traiana. Along this stretch of the Roman road more than 20 fortresses have been discovered.
During the first half of the 19th century, a number of handicrafts experienced rapid growth in Troyan, such as weaving, blacksmithing, and tanning. Pottery workshops also flourished, and the Troyan school of ceramics came to be highly regarded.
One of Troyan’s major attractions is its museum dedicated to folk art and traditional handicrafts. The museum exhibits offer examples of the artisans skill, along with their original tools and photographs illustrating techniques employed by ceramicists and metalworkers. Some 7 km from the town of Troyan is the National Collection of Handicraft and Folk Art in the village of Oreshak. The collection’s 9 exposition halls display unique works created by masters from every cultural region in Bulgaria.

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Near Oreshak there a very large monastery (the third largest in Bulgaria), the Troyan Monastery Assumption of the Virgin. Of particular interest is the The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Church at the monastery, with murals by Zahary Zograf (1810-1853).
In the village of Cherni Osem, roughly 12 km from Troyan, there is an interesting museum dedicated to natural history. The collection includes almost every animal species found in The Central Balkans. The displays are divided into mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish, and so forth.
In the Osam River valley near Troyan, on the outskirts of the village Lomets, are the remains of the Roman Sostra Fortress. This fortress was the sixth way station along the Via Trajana that connected the Danube with the White Sea. The fortress was built as an encampment for Roman soldiers. Close to the encampment there is a settlement, a necropolis, the early Christian basilica Saint George, earthenware ovens, and other artifacts. There are no tours of the site, but it may be visited free of charge.
Troyan is the access point to the Central Balkan National Park, where there are many marked hiking trails. Activities in the park include horseback riding and mountain biking, and there are trails particularly well-suited for bird watching. Troyan also offers excellent opportunities for winter sports. Near the Troyan Pass, 22 km southwest of the town, is the small ski center Beklemeto. It has three ski runs serviced by two lifts, and is the best place for biathlon and cross-country skiing in Bulgaria.
Bekleme is also a convenient starting point to hike the trails in the Troyan Balkans.
The Troyan region is a preferred destination for those interested in hot springs. The villages of Chiflik and Shipkovo are both plentifully endowed with such springs. The region also offers excellent opportunities for village tourism.
The region dining facilities offer diverse possibilities to sample both the local cuisine and national dishes. Troyan is also well-known for its plum brandy (called rakia in Bulgarian), and every year the town has a festival celebrating this heady beverage.

Troyan Monastery

The Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God or, as it is more commonly called, the Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria. It is located in the northern part of the country in the Balkan mountains and was founded no later than the end of the 16th century.

The monastery is situated on the banks of the Cherni Osam near Oreshak, a village 10 km from Troyan in Lovech Province, and is a popular tourist destination.

The main church of the monastery was reconstructed near the end of Ottoman rule during the Bulgarian National Revival period by a master-builder called Konstantin in 1835. The ornate interior and exterior of the church were painted between 1847 and 1849 by Zahari Zograph, a popular Bulgarian painter of the time, who also painted the central church of the Rila Monastery, the largest monastery in Bulgaria. Many of the “moral and social experiments” of art at the time such as Doomsday and Wheel of Life were reproduced at Troyan. One highly controversial move by Zograph was to paint his image around one of the windows in the back of the church.

The iconostasis in the central church is a wood carving dating to 1839.

The Troyan Monastery is also, since the 17th century, the home of one of the holiest icons in Bulgarian Orthodoxy, the Three-Handed Virgin.

Many people make a pilgrimage to this monastery on St. George’s Day because of an icon of St. George in the main church. The room, in which Bulgarian revolutionary Vassil Levski was hiding and meeting with other revolutionaries during the Ottoman period is a museum.