Bulgaria’s Plovdiv Unveils Early Christian ‘Small’ Basilica in Major Archaeology Restoration Project

Floor mosaics from the Small Basilica in Bulgaria's Plovdiv depicting a deer. Photo by Petya Tarnovaliyska, petminuti.com

Floor mosaics from the Small Basilica in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv depicting a deer. Photo by Petya Tarnovaliyska, petminuti.com

The authorities of the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv have opened for visitors the newly restored so called Small Basilica, an Early Christian monument excavated and rehabilitated with funding from the America for Bulgaria Foundation.

The project for the excavation and restoration of the 5th century AD Small Basilica of the ancient city of Philipopolis, as Plovdiv was called in the Roman and Byzantine period, started back in 2010.

It has been executed jointly by Plovdiv Municipality, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture, and the America for Bulgaria Foundation, a U.S.-Bulgarian NGO which provided over BGN 1 million (app. EUR 511 000) in funding.

A similar project for the excavation and restoration of Plovdiv’s Great Basilica (Bishop’s Basilica) is expected to start in 2015.

The ticket for visitors of the restored Small Basilica, which has been turned into a museum with amazing Early Christian mosaics, costs BGN 5 (EUR 2.55) for adults, and BGN 2 (EUR 1) for students and children, Plovdiv Mayor Ivan Totev has announced, as cited by Nova TV.

The newly created museum of the Small Basilica of ancient Philipopolis features well preserved Byzantine floor mosaics on an area of 100 square meters.

The basilica’s unique baptistery is the only one of its kind in Bulgaria. The color floor mosaics display images of a deer, pigeons, and other Early Christian symbols.

Early Christian floor mosaics in the newly restored Small Basilica in Bulgaria's Plovdiv. Photo by Realsteel007, Wikipedia

Early Christian floor mosaics in the newly restored Small Basilica in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv. Photo by Realsteel007, Wikipedia

Background Infonotes:

The Small Basilica of ancient Philipopolis, which is located in the downtown of today’s southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, was built in the 5th century in honor of then military commander of the province of Thrace, Flavius Basiliscus. Basiliscus became Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, i.e. Byzantium (r. 475-476 AD) but was deposed by his predecessor, Byzantine Emperor Zeno (r. 474-475 and 476-491 AD) who ordered the destruction of any traces left by Basiliscus. This led to the deletion of several lines from a donation inscription in the Small Basilica in Philipopolis. The basilica itself It is a three-nave Early Christian church with a length of 20 meters, including the apse, and a width of 13 meters. It is located on the eastern outskirts of the ancient city of Philipopolis close to the inside of the eastern section of the fortress wall near a fortress tower dating back to the 2nd-4th century. It was discovered by accident in 1988 during construction works for a residential building, and has been granted the status of a national culture monument. It was restored between 2010 and 2014 under a project of the Bulgarian Culture Ministry, Plovdiv Municipality, and the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which provided a USD 1 million grant for its excavation and restoration.

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