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St Haralampius Monastery

"St Haralampius" St Archangels monastery (in Bulgarian - manastir "Sveti Haralampiy" Sveti Arhangeli) is situated not far from Melnik in the hills of St Nicholas to the South of the town. It is a monument of culture of national significance.

This monastery (which is currently considered the earliest in Melnik) is mentioned in three notes, part of the Aprakos of the 11-th century which is kept at the National Library of Greece in Athens. The first of them indicates the potential year of its construction - 1206 and its presumed ktitor sebastocrator Vasiliy Vambulinos.

The design and spatial composition of the monastery was classic. It was constructed as a close-type architectural ensemble with a semi-opened anteroom with church "St John Prodromos-Precursor", a bell tower and a holy spring.

The court was steeply sloped to the West where the monastery’s katolikon was situated. It consisted of two one-transept one-apse naves - "Saint Archangels" and "Saint Haralampius" without a narthex and under the same roof. They have been richly decorated by two-layer wall-paintings. Some of their restored elements of the beginning of the 13-th century and the end of the 16-th century are kept in the Historical Museum in Blagoevgrad.

The monastery has went through two serious destrictions when a considerable part thereof had fallen into the precipice together with the slope - in the end of the 16-th century and in the first half of the 18-th century.

Now you can find only ruins on the place where the monastery was situated. Only some parts of walls and foundation are still preserved.

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Interesting facts

There was a time when Melnik's wine was a privilege of the top party elite in Bulgaria and the former Soviet Union.