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Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo
The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo (Ivanovskite Skalni Tsarkvi) is a medieval monastic complex cut in the mountain rocks 22 km south of Ruse near the village of Ivanovo. About 20 churches, chapels and cells have survived more or less intact through the ages while traces of over 300 rooms have been found in total. Monks and literary men occupied the cells in medieval times.
The rock-hewn churches are pretty small, about 20-30 sq m each. Church walls are covered with unique murals from different ages. They are highly expressive and display in a deeply dramatic way the sufferings of Christ. In 1979 the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo and their unique murals were added to UNSECO's Heritage Lists. Only one church is open for visitors, there is an entrance fee and a minimal fare for an information talk.
To reach the Churches of Ivanovo you can start from the local railway station (Ivanovo is on the Sofia - Ruse line) and take either the trail through the ravine along Garvalov Yalak or walk down the road to Ruse following the Ivanovskite Skalni Tsarkvi signs. The route is about 9 km long and takes you to the parking lot at the bottom of the Churches. To reach them, climb up the stairs conveniently cut straight in the rock. Alternatively, take the more moderate route past the cafe shop and go through the woods and along the panorama rock platfrom.
The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo lie in the Rusenski Park Nature reserve, which offers a variety of picturesque trails and guided tours. From Ivanovskite Skalni Tsarkvi you can take the Gramovets trail, which is a beautiful path, about 12 km long, that will take you through a thick forest to the place where Beli and Cherni Lom rivers merge and the Rusenski Lom river begins. A charming dirt road, hanging cliffs and a shelter with a fireplace are only few of the attractions along the trail.
The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo is not an active monastic complex and does not provide food and shelter. You maybe able to find rooms in the nearby villages but it would be better to go to Ruse, which is only 22 km away and offers a big choice of hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.