Bachkovo Monastery (Bulgarian: Бачковски манастир) or Petritsoni Monastery in Bulgaria is an important monument of Christian architecture and one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. It is located on the right bank of the Chepelare River, 189 km from Sofia and 10 km south of Asenovgrad, and is directly subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith.
The monastery was founded by Prince Gregorios Pakourianos or Grigol Bakurianis-dze, prominent Georgian statesman, military commander in Byzantine service, in 1083. He set up a seminary for Georgian youth at the monastery. The curriculum in the first place included Christian religion, as well as mathematics, history, music. A book of the X century, the so-called "Shatberdi Collection" (copied in Shatberdi Monastery, Klarjeti) must have been a student handbook, including the literature an educated man had to know at that time - theology, natural science, philosophy, world history and history of Georgia ("The Convert of Kartli")
Since the 13th century, Georgians lost their domination over the monastery, but nevertheless, Georgian traditions were preserved until the beginning of 14th century. However, there's also another version about Pakourianos's origin. Anna Comnena, an 11 c. A.D. historian, knew Pakourianos personally and stated in Alexiada that he was Armenian by descent but Orthodox by faith.
During the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Bachkovo Monastery was patronized by Tsar Ivan Alexander, which is evidenced by an image of him on the archs of the ossuary's narthex. Since the 11th century, a school was housed in the monastery.
It is believed that the founder of Tarnovo Literary School and last patriarch of the mediaeval Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Euthymius, was exiled by the Turks and died in the monastery in the early 15th century.
Although the monastery survived the first waves of Turkish invasion in Bulgarian lands, it was later looted and destroyed, but restored near the end of the 15th century. The refectory, whose mural paintings by an anonymous author bear a significant artistic value, was reconstructed in 1601 and the Church of Virgin Mary, still preserved today, was finished in 1604.
A 14th-century donor's mural portrait of Bulgarian tsar Ivan Alexander in the ossuaryBachkovo Monastery is the final resting place of both Patriarch Euthymius (1330–1404) and Patriarch Cyril (1953–1971).