Set in a gorge beneath high crags, Dryanovski Monastery was chosen as the place from which to launch a local uprising in May 1876, while the fires of rebellion were still smouldering elsewhere after the suppression of the April Rising.
Under the leadership of Bacho Kiro and the monk Hariton, several hundred rebels defended the monastery for almost a week against 10,000 Turkish troops rushed from Shumen, whose commander Pasha Faslu offered to spare Kiro if he publicly repented – and hanged him when he refused.
The monastery was pretty much destroyed in 1876 and rebuilt with public donations soon after the Liberation.
A fine ensemble of timbered buildings was the result, although once again it’s the restful ambience rather than any single architectural feature that makes the place a worthwhile visit.
A small museum (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat & Sun 9.30am-4pm) just off the monastery courtyard, displays old photographs of Bacho Kiro and company, as well as an ossuary containing rebel skulls.
The museum basement concentrates on Stone-Age pottery and arrowheads discovered in the Bacho Kiro cave, 500m beyond the monastery at the end of an asphalt path.
A small part of the cave interior is floodlit, and there are some interesting curtain-like stalactite formations to admire, but nothing that justifies a special trip.
You can walk from Dryanovo to the monastery in about 45 minutes, or take one of the regular Dryanovo—Gabrovo buses which stop beside the monastery access road (marked by a big m onument to the heroes of the April Rising), from where the monastery lies 1500m downhill.
You can also get to the monastery by train, alighting at the first stop beyond Dryanovo, the Bacho Kiro halt, and walking the remaining 100m downhill (note that only plltnickeski trains stop at the halt, which amounts to little more than a shed in the middle of the forest and is very easy to miss).