Rock Monastery of Shashkunite – Provadia, Bulgaria - Atlas Obscura

Rock Monastery of Shashkunite

Provadia, Bulgaria

Crossing a suspension bridge above a forest is the only way to reach this 12th-century monastery.  


This rock monastery was carved and inhabited during the 12th and 13th-centuries by local monks. It consists of ten cells (caves) located about 98-feet (30-meters) above ground.

The cells are separated into two groups. The first consists of three cells followed by two other separate caves. The second group, the main enclosure, is made of five cells, two of which are located higher than the others. The caves of this grouping are connected by small tunnels carved into the rock.

In the last cell, visitors will find an empty grave accompanied by a cross carved into the wall. It’s assumed the grave was the victim of robbers since few traces remain of its contents. 

In the past, the monastery was practically inaccessible. Nowadays, a metallic suspension bridge allows visitors to cross over the valley to reach the second group of caves. The monastery is occasionally home to a couple of rock eagles. 

Know Before You Go

The monastery is accessible by hiking from Provadia or by walking the trail on top of the cliffs from the Ovech Fortress. The bridge is stronger than it looks. It may appear locked from afar, but it's actually open and many people go there. Just squat down to pass a small fence over the bridge, and then again to enter the monastery.

The ceiling of the caves is quite low, especially in the tunnels, but you can still walk if you bend down. The last cell with the grave is only accessible through a hole in the ceiling of the fourth cell.

Be careful, as there are no railings inside the monastery, and also be respectful of this historic site. 

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