Saturday, April 4, 2009

The medieval frescoes of the Boyana Church

Boyana is an affluent village suburb of Sofia, on the slopes of Mt. Vitosha. We went there by taxi on a beautiful, warm Saturday morning. Our first stop was Boyana Church, a historical site included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

Boyana Church dates back to the tenth century, but most of the exquisite medieval frescoes within date back to the year 1259. When you arrive, you walk through a forested garden with some of the largest trees we've seen.


Entrance to the church was 10 Leva, and you can actually go inside only for a period of ten minutes. We had a guide who spoke excellent English, and she explained the frescoes and their significance. We saw engravings in Greek, dating from an earlier period, and many that we could read, but not fully understand, in Bulgarian.


It was forbidden to take photographs inside the church, so it will be hard to describe how beautiful the frescoes were. They were of Biblical scenes, as well as of the Bulgarian king, queen and patron saints.

The Boyana Church owes its world fame above all to the frescoes from 1259, which demonstrate the exceptional achievements of mediaeval Bulgarian culture. The majority of the more than 240 figures depicted here display individuality, remarkable psychological insight and vitality. (from the official website)

In one place we could clearly see the colorful, textured frescoes from 1259, which were on a new layer covering earlier, plainer wall paintings. Our visit to the church was short, but remarkable.

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