Saint Mother of God Spileotissa Monastery (ST.ZONA)

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Built by despot Slav at the beginning of the XIII century in the eastern part of the citadel of the fortress. In the monastery complex were two churches – Saint Mary Spileotisa church and Saint Spyridon church as well as a cemetery chapel.
The “lordly status” of the monastery is given by the despot Slav in 1220 when he issued a charter- the Sigil of Despot Alexius Slav. Since the second half of the XIV century to the early XX century the monastery is convent of the the Vatopedi Monastery on Holy Mountain (Mount Athos). For a long time it retains its honorable place in the spiritual and cultural life of Melnik.
Today among the ruins of the monastery is rised a small chapel for worship.
The monastery and the newly built chapel is named Saint Zona or Saint Mother of God of the Holy Belt. It’s about honoring The Honest belt of The Most Holy Mother of God – one of the vestment of the Mother of God preserved after Her Assumption. The relic is worshiped by the Christians because of the healing of the Empress Zoe in the tenth century.
Worshiping The Honest belt of The Most Holy Mother of God is not inherent in the Bulgarian tradition. So far the only known exception is in Melnik.
That is why, when celebrating “The Laying the Honest Belt of the Virgin Mary” on 31 August, the town of Melnik is celebrating its Feast.

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