The Old Refectory
One of the most interesting sites in the monastery includes the refectory and kitchen connected to it. Both were either built or restores in 1623.
The kitchen has a square foundation. Four vault arches, attached to the walls, reach up to the ceiling, which finished with 8 meter high chimney.
The perfectly spherical vault ceiling is made of freestone, a material plentiful in the area. Cooking was done in the center of the kitchen, on top of a mat for the large pots. Thanks to the smart architectural decision of the ceiling, the smoke dispersion must have been easy.
The refectory is separated from the kitchen with the help of a small storage chamber – ‘siugesnitsa’. It is rectangular in shape, 6.2m wide and 17m long, with an half- cylindrical ceiling. There are two apses on the east and west walls. The dining table is located next to the west wall, lengthwise. It is made of large marble plates. On top of the table, there is an inscription indicating that it had been built in 1601 by the craftsman Nikola during the time of abbot Matei, with funds of the former metropolitan of Plovdiv, Danail. The date of the table is different than the one of the building, which suggests that there might have been an earlier construction serving the same purpose on this site.
The whole room has been decorated with religious frescoes. 90% of them are preserved, executed by an unknown author in the first half of the XVII century. The style of painting shows great draftsmanship, in tone with the trends of the time, suggesting that the author must have gone through some rigorous training. The harmonically composed scenes from the orthodox universe are shown in a miniature. The choice of imagery combines in one the Antique and Judean schools of thought. On the ceiling one can see the big composition of ‘The Tree of Jesse’, showing portraits of twelve ancient philosophers – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Diogenes, etc.,
intertwined through depiction of the Holy vine, with those of David, Solomon, Ozias...
Around it are portrayed 24 scenes from the akatis hymn of the Holy Virgin and from all seven Ecumenical Councils. On the east wall, there is a depiction of Judgement Day.
The Refectory has been thoroughly restored in 1965-1971 from a team of Bulgarian and Czech restorers. It is the only one of its kind in Bulgaria and therefore attracts visitors from all over the world.