The Bulgarian coast has lots of monasteries and churches. But unfortunately, they are not functioning anymore. Those that we were able to find such as the smaller churches in Nessebar for example, are still used for worship.
All large and interesting monasteries are located closer to the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. They are located many kilometers from the sea: the Bachkovo Monastery, the Rila Monastery, and many others.
The only exception to this rule is the Monastery of St. George in Pomorie, one of the most beautiful and picturesque monasteries that we visited in Bulgaria. It is the only monastery located along the coast.
The Monastery of Saint George in Pomorie – the only monastery on the coast
We visited the Monastery of St. George in Pomorie during late summer. Maybe because it was the end of the season and/or because we arrived their early in the morning, the monastery was almost empty. However, there was a Mass or a divine worship of some sort, so we decided not to disturb the parshioners.
We have visited the Monastery of St. George in late summer. Maybe because of the end of the season, maybe because we came early in the morning, the monastery was almost empty. At that time there was a divine worship, and we decided not to disturb parishioners.
Despite the fact that the monastery is surrounded by a high stone wall, its gates are wide open to all visitors. And you will be surprised what’s in store there!
What we remember about the monastery? Reviews of ordinary tourists
The many tourists who visited the Monastery of St. George, it is known by its tranquility and beauty even in its smallest and seemingly insignificant details. There are mushrooms that grow somewhere underneath a tree, a stray cat that basks in the glow of the morning sun or a chicken that looks for a worm for its meal.
Within the monastery grounds there is a vegetable garden. While on our visit there, they were growing tomatoes. In a small orchard we saw trees of peaches, quinces, persimmons, apples and olives. These gardens are like little oases far away from the busy world.
Also within the monastery grounds we also saw lots of flower beds, which are carefully maintained and adorned with colorful little things such as carts or barrels, for example. Midway through the monastery area there was a wooden gazebo, where you can sit down and relax a bit, gather your thoughts, admire the scenery, meditate or go “spiritual.”
We have mostly positive comments about this monastery. It is beautiful and picturesque. We would definitely recommend visiting this monastery, but would suggest to come during the peak season or when you’re in guided excursions. It is best to visit the monastery on their own and during off-peak season, as you will be able to see and appreciate the beauty of the monastery better without crowds of tourists.
Both men and women employees or caretakers work in the monastery. There is dining room and a church school for children and a hostel which pilgrims can rent for a small fee.
You can also stay in the hostel for free on a couple of conditions: you must follow the monastery rules and do the job entrusted to you by the abbot. By the way, he speaks not only in his native Bulgarian but also English, German and Russian.
The main shrine of the monastery is considered to be a healing spring of St. George, according to the legend about giving healing of serious illnesses.
The miraculous icon of St. George is also kept in the church of St. George Monastery, one of the stellar examples of iconographic art during the 18th and 19th centuries. There is also a bas-relief by the entrance. By the way, the monastery church was built around an ancient temple during the early 19th century. The monastery was constructed from a military base in the Byzantine era.
Walking through the monastery grounds, we came across a small museum. A monk passing by turned on the light and invited us to go inside.
The museum itself is a tiny, one-room space. Here you can see exhibits pertaining to the monastery and its history: church vestments, utensils, printed and handwritten books, household items and even ancient base from the Byzantine era, from which the monastery was constructed.
Walking through the territory of the monastery, we came across a small museum. A monk, who was passing by, turned on the light and invited us to go inside.
By itself, the museum is quite tiny – just one room. Here you can see exhibits from the life of the monastery: church vestments and utensils, printed and handwritten books, household items and even ancient base of the Byzantine era, at which the monastery was constructed.
While the monastery doesn’t charge tourists, it accepts donations from them.
Within the monastery grounds there is also small souvenir shop. In addition to the different religious items and the usual touristy merchandise, you can also buy honey, wine and rakia (Balkan fruit brandy). The monastery also sells produce such as in-season fruits and vegetables.
How to get to the monastery of St. George?
The monastery of St. George is located in the new part of Pomorie – a fairly average popular Bulgarian resort, very quiet, peaceful and beautiful.
It is not difficult to find the monastery – you can even ask the locals, they will always help you. A large park and a summer theater beside the monastery will be your helpful landmarks.
Going to the monastery by public transport
It is not difficult to get to the monastery of St. George’s by public transport:
- If you travel from the north (Nessebar or Sunny Beach) – you need to take any bus to Pomorie or Burgas (almost all buses to Burgas go through Pomorie);
- If you travel from the south (from Burgas to Sozopol) – choose a bus to Nessebar or Sunny Beach.
A ticket will cost you on average: 3 – 3.5 levs which is not expensive, in our opinion, compared to taxi fares which cost 20 times to that amount.
A visit to the monastery during an excursion
The monastery of St. George is often visited during excursions to Sozopol, Ropotamo and Ravadinovo Castle. By themselves, excursions in Bulgaria are quite expensive. You can visit the Botanical Garden in Balchik or Nessebar, on your own, which is much cheaper (2-3 times). But to visit the remotest corners of the country, such as Ravadinovo (the castle in love with the wind) or Ropotamo, you can only do that during paid excursions or by a rented car.
Personally, we recommend you to buy excursions from the locals, and not from bigger tour operators. The price will be exactly the same, but the approach is more individual and personal – you can adjust a route depending on your preferences, and you will get to travel by car or a van instead of a large tourist bus.
The Legend of St. George Monastery in Bulgaria
According to a legend many years ago, when Bulgaria was under rule of the Turks, the whole territory of Pomorie was ruled by a 17th-century Turkish administrator Selim Bey. He was suffering from an incurable illness — it is widely thought that he was blind and spent many of his years in darkness.
One night, Selim Bey dreamed that he found a holy spring in his yard, whose water could cure all illnesses. The next morning, he started searching for the place and found a bas-relief of St. George. When he pushed the stone slab back, the curatives spring began to flow from there. He drank its water and after that, his illness was cured and he regained his eyesight.
This legend further states that Selim Bey and his family were converted to Christianity and he ordered to found a monastery in this place.
A few years after his wife’s death, he became the abbot of the monastery to protect the Orthodox shrine.
Interesting articles about other sights of Bulgaria:
- What to see in Pomorie – our list of attractions
- The most interesting sights of Bulgaria. What to see quickly and easily?
- Churches in Nessebar. Where they are, what they are famous for and how they look?
- Independent tourism or excursions? Let’s make a decision together!
- What to see in Bulgaria – our selection
- Ancient Nessebar – one of the most beautiful cities of Bulgaria
- The Botanical Garden in Balchik – the most interesting sight of Bulgaria
- Prices and a schedule of excursions around Bulgaria in 2016