The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo (Bulgarian: Ивановски скални църкви, Ivanovski skalni tsarkvi) are a group of monolithic churches, chapels and monasteries hewn out of solid rock and completely different from other monastery complexes in Bulgaria, located near the village of Ivanovo, 20 kilometers (12 mi) south of Rousse, on the high rocky banks of the Rusenski Lom, 32 meters (105 ft) above the river. The complex is noted for its beautiful and well-preserved medieval frescoes. The churches are inside Rusenski Lom Nature Park.

 Ivanovo rocks near the church complex

The caves in the region had been inhabited by monks from the 1220s, when it was founded by the future Patriarch of Bulgaria Joachim I, to the 17th century, where they hewed cells, churches and chapels out of solid rock. At the peak of the monastery complex, the number of churches was about 40, while the other premises were around 300, most of which are not preserved today.

Second Bulgarian Empire rulers such as Ivan Alexander and Ivan Asen II frequently made donations to the complex, as evidenced by donor portraits in some of the churches. Other patrons included nobles from the capital Tarnovo and nearest big medieval town Cherven, with which the monastery complex had strong ties in the 13th and 14th century. It was a centre of hesychasm in the Bulgarian lands in the 14th century and continued to exist in the early centuries of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, but gradually decayed.

The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

Photographies by:
Denis Barthel at German Wikipedia (Original text: Denis Barthel (de:Benutzer:Denis Barthel)) - CC BY-SA 3.0
Denis Barthel at German Wikipedia (Original text: Denis Barthel (de:Benutzer:Denis Barthel)) - CC BY-SA 3.0
Denis Barthel at German Wikipedia (Original text: Denis Barthel (de:Benutzer:Denis Barthel)) - CC BY-SA 3.0
Denis Barthel at German Wikipedia (Original text: Denis Barthel (de:Benutzer:Denis Barthel)) - CC BY-SA 3.0
Nikolov2010 - Public domain
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