Village of Zlatna livada, monastery “St. Athanasius the Great”

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The Monastery of St. Athanasius is situated on a hill above the village of Zlatna livada, about 15 km from Chirpan.

It is believed to be the oldest monastery in Europe since, according to historical evidence, Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, personally founded the monastery in 344. He visited the Bulgarian lands today in connection with the Serbian Orthodox Synod in 343-344. According to his life, he stayed near Beroe (today Stara Zagora) and founded a monastery. The place for the construction of the monastery was not chosen accidentally – the important road Constantinople – Serdica passed once near the sacred monastery, besides the monastery, there was an important fortress, the remains of which can still be seen today. Nearby, there was also a Thracian nymph – a sanctuary devoted to the nymphs that Saint Athanasius turns into a Christian water sanctuary. Even today it is believed that the water in the monastery holy spring is healing.

In the rocks above the monastery, there is a pillar in which the saint and his followers remained in days of fasting and solitude. The visitor is also accessible to visitors to the monastery.

Throughout its centuries of history, St. Athanasius has been built and destroyed several times. In the 80’s of the 20th century, a new large monastery building was built. According to the legends, Vasil Levski (1837 – 1873) and other participants in the national liberation movement against the Ottoman rule in the 19th century

The monastery contains the Egyptian icon of St. Athanasius, which was given in 2003 during the visit of Alexander Patriarch Petros VII. Another great value is a copy of the Reims Gospel.

The Monastery of Saint Athanasius is an active monastery for girls, there are three temple festivals – 18 February, 2 May and 14 October.