Monastery of St. George, Belashtitsa, Bulgaria
Monastery of St. George (the Victorious) in Belashtitsa (Belashtitsa Monastery) was built in 1020, near the Belashtitsa village, 12 km south of Plovdiv. .
The monastery was built by the Byzantine military commander Nicephorus Xiphias, who suddenly appeared at the Battle of Mount Belasitsa (the Battle of Kleidion) in the rear of the Bulgarian Emperor Samuel, and contributed to the victory of Basil II in 1014. .
In 1018 the Byzantine Emperor Basil II appointed his commander Nicephorus Xiphias the ruler of the Philippopolis region with headquarters in Philippopolis (now Plovdiv). The ruler immediately noticed a need for cultivation of rich and productive lands of Plovdiv and in order to have a labor force, appealed to the emperor Basil II with a request to send 15,000 soldiers of captured Samuel’s army to erect the village Belasitsa, which later was called Belashtitsa. .
Nicephorus Xiphias built a great palace-fortress to the south of the Belashtitsa village. The fortress existed up to 1650, remnants of which survived until now. In 1020, at 1 km to the south of his palace, Nicephorus Xiphias built a monastery and dedicated it to St. George. Nicephorus Xiphias originally Bulgarian (Nicholas) was born in the Stara Zagora city. A child Nicholas, at the age of 11 was taken to slavery to Constantinople and was taught the military job, which became the work of his life. At the age of thirty (in 1014) Xiphias participated in the Battle of Belasitsa as a military commander. .
He is known for his bloodthirstiness and ruthlessness. Nicephorus Xiphias didn’t let his brother tell people about his Bulgarian origin and ordered to make blind him. Seventy-six years old mother of Xiphias, Vetsislava, who saw the whole horror made by her son to Bulgarians and her eldest son Dragomir, cursed her son. Nicephorus Xiphias learned about the curse of his mother but ignored it. But soon revenge came to him, and he was killed on December 22, 1029 at Belasitsa hill, when the Byzantine army was defeated. In the 19th and 20th centuries religious Bulgarians and Greeks, were investing in the monastery renovation to keep it in a good operational condition. .
The monastery is not very big but very cozy. It's located in a fantastic forest above the village. .
At present, there live three nuns and a few novices. On May 6, on the feast of the patron saint, many pilgrims visit Monastery of St. George and many tents can be seen all around. .
By Lilit Vanesyan, www.building.am