Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Christian religious centre

Red Church

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Red Church

About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road
Country: Bulgaria, Perushtitsa
Type: Christian religious centre
Epoch: Middle Ages
World Heritage:
Middle AgesChristian religious centre

The Red Church is among the most impressive monuments dating back to 5th -6th c., built most probably during the reign of the Emperor Anastasius. Its construction in the vicinity of Philipopolis, close to the important road leading from Thrace to the Marmara sea and from Constantinople (Istanbul) to Western Europe, is related to the famous for the Christian world cult of martyrs.
The church was called “Red” due to the strong effect of the colour of its bricks, linked together with red lime mortar. It has an original four-conch plan – around a central square to the west, north and south is situated a conch in each direction (semi-cylindrical domed niche in the wall). To the east, in the fourth conch is the altar apse. The extremely high and elongated conchs support a semi-circular dome over piers with an “L” cross-section. The northern and southern conchs are rounded with vaulted semi-circular corridors. The nave to the west (the main square hall) ends with two narthexes and a porch in front. The inner narthex provides the connection to the adjoining chapel ending with an apse to the east. The outside narthex is connected to a small baptistery to the west. All rooms are vaulted. The dimensions of the church are quite impressive – 32/26m. Along with the original interior treatment they prove the exceptional value as concept and execution of this architectural work.
The church was richly decorated. The floor was covered by mosaics, the wall up to a definite height faced with marble slabs, continued by wall paintings above. Specialists date back the two discovered layers to the 6th – 11th c.
Only single walls and parts of the dome are preserved today. Reaching nowadays as imposing ruins, the church is one of the most outstanding Early Christian monuments in South Eastern Europe.

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