Bulgaria: Bachkovo Monastery
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bachkovo Monastery, situated 3km south of Plovdiv, was founded back in 1083. The monastery flourished in 12-14th century, but was ransacked and nearly demolished under the Ottomans. Reconstruction began in the 17th century, and that’s when the centerpiece Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa was built in 1604. The interior was later decorated with absolutely surreal frescoes in 1850s, a sight that will simply floor you by sheer awe. The iconostasis is older, from the 17th century and the pilgrim-adored icon of the Virgin is probably 800 years old. Once done with the church, there is another fresco-loaded building of refectory from 1601. It’s an active monastery and quite crowded with tourists and pilgrims. Apparently covid can’t get in through the monastery walls, plus the Virgin icon keeps it at bay, so nobody bothers with any masks or social distancing.