The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanavo are a set of monumental chapels, monasteries and churches built out of hard rock. These group of churches are totally different compared to Bulgaria’s other monastery churches. It is located by the town of Ivanavo, south of Rousse by twenty kilometres, on the high stony banks of Rusenski Lom, thirty-two kilometres higher than the river. This complex is widely known for its well-preserved and attractive medieval frescoes.
Monks had inhabited the caves in the area in the decade of 1220s, when it was discovered by the prospect Patriarch of Bulgaria Joachim, until the seventeenth century, when they hewed churches, chapels and cells out of hard rock. At the tip of the monastery group, the churches amounted to about forty, whilst the other grounds were around three hundred, majority of which aren’t presently preserved.
Ivan Alexander and Ivan Asen II, examples of 2nd Bulgarian Empire leaders, regularly donated money to the monastery complex, as confirmed by contributor portraits in few of the churches. Other donors were the nobles that came from the capital of Tarnovo, with which the complex had close relations in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. It was the core of hesychasm in Bulgarian grounds in the fourteenth century and maintained to survive in the premature centuries of Ottoman ruling of Bulgaria, however slowly decomposed.
The frescoes from the thirteenth and fourteenth century are responsible for the monastery complex’s popularity. These frescoes are preserved in five of the churches, which are seen as great illustrations if Bulgarian medieval art. The rock grounds that were used by monks include the Baptistery, the St. Archangel Michael Chapel, the St. Theodore Church, the main Holy Mother of God Church, and the Gospodev Dol Chapel, with the fourteenth century murals in the later one being debatably the most popular in Ivanavo and considered as some of the most significant representations of the Palaeologan art.