If you think that the Boyana Church is a unique and unique example of medieval Bulgarian architecture and frescoes, then you should definitely visit the Zemen Monastery.
Stepping through the threshold of the abode, you immediately find yourself in a parallel universe. The complex consists of a church, a bell tower and two monastery buildings located on the periphery. Since 1966 the former male monastery was declared a cultural monument and today it is considered a unique example of Bulgarian medieval architecture and art. Since 2004 it is a branch of the National History Museum.
One of the legends about the origin of the unique temple, which takes the form of a regular cube, is actually that it was built as a result of a bet. In the 11th century, a master mason and his apprentice bet which of the two would build a more magnificent church on both banks of the Struma River, in the area of the present-day city of Zemen. The two had no right to watch the progress of the other's construction. The master finished first and went to see how far his apprentice had come. Legend has it that he was struck dumb by the beauty of the creation and, ashamed returned and demolished his temple.
The greatest treasure of the Zemen monastery, for which visitors come here from all over the world, are the extraordinary wall paintings from the 14th century, which can be seen in their original form. All of them have not been restored, but have only been cleaned and conserved. As a cultural and historical value, the temple can compete only with the Boyana church in Sofia, built in 1259. This is one of the oldest churches in Bulgaria and miraculously it has never been demolished. In the chronicle books of the holy monastery, it is mentioned that it was repaired in 1730 and strengthened in 1830 and 1860.
The Zemen Monastery "St. John the Theologian" preserves many secrets of the Bogomils, which were also of interest to the crusader knights, liberators of the Holy Sepulcher. Freemasons also study the frescoes and examine them for secret signs depicted centuries ago.
This holy place brings really strong energy and unearthly peace. Only 70 km from Sofia Zemen Monastery is a perfect place to visit for a day. You can check out our combined day tour from Sofia to Zemen and Osogovo.