The Red Church, Bulgaria
The Red Church is a large partially preserved late Roman (early Byzantine) Christian basilica in south central Bulgaria. Dating to the late 5th–early 6th century, the church stands near the town of Perushtitsa in western Plovdiv Province, some 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) southwest of the city of Plovdiv. The Red Church is a rare example of solid brick construction in a church from Late Antiquity in Bulgaria, and it was the red color of the bricks that gave the church its name.
Probably built under Emperor Anastasius I (491–518), the Red Church originally measured 32.70 by 25.90 metres (107.3 by 85.0 ft). The eastern wall, its best preserved wall, reaches around 14 m (46 ft) in height. The church features four semi-domes, a narthex and an outer narthex (exonarthex). The symmetry of the building is disrupted by a baptistery with a piscina attached to the northern wall of the narthex and a chapel located under the side semi-dome of the church’s south side. The piscina in the baptistery was reveted with pink marble. The church was originally domed, but the dome has been only scarcely preserved.
The floor of the church was covered with mosaics and the interior was decorated with frescoes.The early murals of the Red Church illustrate the gradual shift from complex mosaics to frescoes in the interior decoration of Christian churches which was taking place at the time. Some of the decoration is preserved in the National Historical Museum in Sofia. Though now lost, part of those early frescoes were the apocryphal scenes of the flight of Elizabeth and the murder of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s parents.
It is theorized that the Red Church was originally a martyr’s mausoleum (martyrium) which housed the remains of a popular saint. The church underwent reconstruction in the Early Middle Ages. In the 10th–11th century, several of the side passages were sealed off using bricks from the church itself, and the space in front of the apse was isolated by means of double fencing. The necropolis around the church has been dated to the Middle Ages as well, and it was in that period that the second layer of frescoes was added.
The Red Church was first excavated in 1915 by Bulgarian archaeologists. The outbreak of World War I delayed any further research until 1921, when excavations were continued by the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute with the financial aid of American Byzantinist Thomas Whittemore. Due to structural damage, the church was stabilized using wood scaffolding in 1985, though no further conservation efforts have been made since
Along with the Hagia Sophia Church in Sofia and the Old Bishopric in Nesebar, the Red Church stands as one of only three preserved brick churches from that period of the history of Bulgaria. Solid brickwork was generally rare and to be seen in buildings constructed from the 5th to the 12th century in Byzantium and Byzantine-influenced areas. Architecture historian Margarita Koeva considers the church one of the prime examples of the changes which ensued in the modern Bulgarian lands following the Edict of Milan of 313
Червената църква край Перущица е един от най-забележителните архитектурни шедьоври в Европа от периода V – VI век. Храмът се е казвал “Света Богородица”, но в наше време е известен като Червената църква заради типичните римски тухли и розов хоросан, от които е изграден.
Археолози се обединяват около тезата, че Червената църква край Перущица е била изградена при управлението на император Анастасий I, в края на V или началото на VI век .
Предполага се, че в миналото храмът е бил известен с изцелителните мощи на християнски мъченик, загинал за утвърждаване на христовата вяра по тези земи. Мястото, на което е изградена, е много внимателно подбрано – построена е в близост до старо езическо светилище, близо до важния византийски град Филипопол (днешен Пловдив) и до най-важните пътища от Тракия за Бяло море, както и от Константинопол за Западна Европа.
Червената църква е била богато украсена, като подът ѝ е бил покрит с мозайка, а стените до определена височина са били облицовани с мраморни плочи, над които имало стенописи. Специалистите смятат, че откритите два пласта стенописи са изработени между VI и XI век.
Днес са запазени отделни стени и части от купола. През периода 2010-2013 е реализиран проект за укрепване, консервация и достъп до нея. Екип на ImpactPressGroup засне от високо красивата Червена църква край Перущица.