The rock monastery “Saint Dimitar Besarbovski” is the only active men’s rock monastery in Bulgaria. It was founded in the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, but its name was mentioned for the first time in 1431 in a Turkish tax register. During the 14th C. the Besarbovo monastery was under the rule of the Vlach knyaz Ivanko Basarba – tsar Ivan Alexander’s father-in-law. Legends have it that the young Vlad the Third (Dracula) visited the monastery as well. During the 17th C. the Besarbovo monastery was abandoned.
The most renowned dweller of the monastery was St. Dimitar Besarbovski – born in 1685 in the near village of Besarbovo. After his death, his relics were reserved on the second floor in a stone bed, covered with flag-stone. During the Russo-Turkish War (1768 -1774) they were transported to the “Saints Constantine and Helena” church in Bucharest, where they have stayed to this day. The name of Saint Dimitar Besarbovski was mentioned by Saint Paisius of Hilendar in his work “Istoriya Slavyanobolgarska” (“Slavonic-Bulgarian History”).
In 1911 the archeologist Karel Škorpil visited the monastery of Besarabovo and described it in great details.
In 1937 the monk Hrisant settled down in the monastery and started restoring it. He founded a committee for the building of a chapel, dedicated to Saint Dimitar Besarabovski. The chapel existed until 1940, when it was destroyed by a flood. Nevertheless, father Hrisant gathered donations and successfully built two monk cells against the monastery.
Just 16 km to the south are located The Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo - one of Bulgaria’s seven sites included in UNESCO’s world heritage list.
The rock monastery “Saint Dimitar Besarbovski” is situated in Northern Bulgaria, about 10 km. south of Ruse and 2 km of the village of Besarbovo. The main road turns off to the monastery in the southern end of the village, before the bridge over the Rusenski Lom River (if coming from Ruse).