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Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets


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.

Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets
Floor mosaics from the basilica [Credit: Plovdiv Municipality]
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.

Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets
Floor mosaics from the basilica [Credit: Plovdiv Municipality]
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.

Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets
The peacock medallion is one of the most remarkable findings in the ancient basilica [Credit: Plovdiv Municipality]
On one of the most impressive findings is an exquisite peacock medallion located at the main entrance of the two-storey Early Christian church.

Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets
Floor mosaics uncovered during excavations [Credit: Plovdiv Municipality]
Numerous columns and capitals from inside the building as well as its courtyard have also been discovered during the archaeological research.

Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets
The archaeological site is located in the centre of Plovdiv [Credit: Plovdiv Municipality]
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.

Early Christian ‘Bishop's Basilica’ in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, reveals hidden secrets
Photo of the future open museum of the basilica [Credit: 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.

Author: Mariya Cheresheva | Source: Balkan Insight [August 25, 2017]
TANN

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