Location: Western Bulgaria Type: day trips around Sofia; nature landmarks; monasteries; Bulgaria Suiable for children: yes
There are many nice places that you can enjoy nearby Sofia, if you’re visiting the Bulgarian capital, like Zemen monastery and Pchelina dam. They are both in the same direction and worth a visit. We recommend that you first go to the Zemen monastery and, if you wish, have lunch at the restaurant there and then enjoy the view of the Pchelina dam.
Zemen monastery and Pchelina dam
Zemen is located about 80 km from Sofia and can be reached by train and by car. The town itself is picturesque, situated on both sides of the Struma river, surrounded by mountains. The Zemen monastery towers over the town and can be reached on foot from the center or by car straight to the gates. Well maintained and with authentic architecture, today the monastery is not active. The yard is spacious and accommodates a nice restaurant, which has already been mentioned. The view to the town of Zemen and the serenity of the place is worth taking a break here.
Part of the monastery complex is also the remarkable Saint John the Theologian church, built in the 11 century. The frescoes are fully preserved, accomplished in an archaic decorative style and very beautiful. The church is really remarkable and they say that if you make a wish with hand of the altar, it will come true.
Next to visit is Pchelina dam. An interesting fact is that once a village named Pchelintsi was situated at the site of the dam. It was completely submerged, so that the dam could take its place. From the village remained only a small church, which today stands on a rock above the Pchelina dam.
Built in 1350, the church is called St. John Letni. Its frescoes are partially preserved and it is evident that once they were really beautiful. And the view, which opens around the church will reward you for trying to find this lovely place. The thing is that it is a little bit hard to get to if you are not GPS equipped or prepared for lots of talking with the locals for directions. To get here, you have to go through the village of Potsurnentsi and then it`s best to follow Google coordinates. Also the road form Potsurnentsi to the church is not so good and will be a challenge for a regular car.
The Pchelina dam is also perfect for camping and a longer stay, especially if you are into fishing. Regardless, you will surely enjoy the beautiful vista.