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In Pictures 25 Aug 17

Ancient Church in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Reveals Hidden Secrets

After its officially opens in 2019, the Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ of Philippopolis in Plovdiv may become part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
...

Built between the 4th and 5th century AD in the Roman city of Philippopopolis, nowadays Plovdiv, the Bishop’s Basilica is one of the most important Christian places of worship found in Bulgaria dating from that period.

After years of decay, it was discovered by accident in 1980s. Its restoration began in 2015 on the initiative of the America for Bulgaria Foundation. This organisation invested over 4 million euros in uncovering the basilica’s magnificent coloured mosaics.

By the time excavation had finished in July 2017, over 2,000 square metres of floor mosaics had been revealed, including remarkable images of over 70 species of bird, believed to symbolize the souls of newly baptized Christians.

On one of the most impressive findings is an exquisite peacock medallion located at the main entrance of the two-storey Early Christian church.

Numerous columns and capitals from inside the building as well as its courtyard have also been discovered during the archaeological research.

After the restoration and conservation works are complete, the two floors of the ancient building will be covered with a protective surface under a glass panorama roof, as foreseen by the Plovdiv municipality.

The opening of the historic site is expected in 2019, when Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s richest city in terms of ancient history, will be celebrated as the next European Capital of Culture.

This February, the city administration announced that it would apply for UNESCO status for the Bishop’s Basilica.

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