The Bachkovo Monastery (Bachkovski manastir) is one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe and is directly subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. It is located on the right bank of the Chepelare River, 89 km from Sofia and 10 km south of Asenovgrad.
The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith. It was founded by Prince Grigol Bakurianis-dze, prominent Georgian military commander in Byzantine service, in 1083. Since the 13th century, Georgians lost their domination over the monastery, but nevertheless, Georgian traditions were preserved until the beginning of 14th century. The only part that has survived from the monastery’s original structure is the ossuary, which has a specific architectural design and ancient frescoes (11-12th c.), and is situated 300 m away from the contemporary monastery complex. During the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Bachkovo Monastery was patronized by Tsar Ivan Aleksandar, which is evidenced by an image of him on the archs of the ossuary’s narthex.