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Biserica “Sf. Nikola”, ElenaCod 2583

This is the oldest temple in the city and county, built in the late fifteenth century. Exterior architecture of the temple is modest and unpretentious, but the interior is richly decorated. The frescoes and sculptures were made during the years 1806 – 1818 and are of great artistic value.
The church is a historical and artistic building. Cultural monument of national importance.
The first place of the oldest church in Elena “St. Nikola”. It existed before the sixteenth century. The old psalter saved from Doyno Grammarian “, printed in Venice in Vicenza, son of Bozhidar Vukovich, leader of Podgoritsa “says:” the book is donated to the temple of the church “St. Nikola” in 1518 by someone named Pena. “Even then, the church was a literary bridge – between the literary school Tarnovo and Elena. The legend says that the church had many old manuscripts written on parchment. There was a special priest who kept the books and distributed them for use.
The church “St. Nikola” was the only one in the neighbourhoods of Elena. Residents of a mountain village (Kolibari) held religious ceremonies in their churches. Under the old oak they prayed for rain and fertility. They held services on the days of St. Archangel, St. Nikola, St. Elijah. The Elder Priest put incense on the table on a broken tile instead of a censer. The residents of the mountain village (Kolibari) Elena used to came on Sundays to pray in the church. They also needed the human interaction the temple offered.
“After they lit a candle for their patron saints, the villagers unloaded cloth bags made of goat hair and arranged large baskets squatting around the church. Everybody had something to sell and tried to buy the goods they needed”.
Day by day the church day became market day. These is how fairs started to be organised three days, three times a year. Merchants from the big cities used to come at these fairs.
On April 23, 1800, on St. George’s day, Elena was attacked by a robber, the church “St. Nikola” was burned, and with it were burned most of the books. Without permission, the people of Elena begin to restore it. The temple is built in secret for 40 days, it is dug into the ground not to draw the attention of the oppressors. Renewed in its current form in 1804 with funds from the wealthiest citizens and with the workforce of the population. Hadzhi Ivan Kisyov led the construction. The nephew of Priest Petko Sheytan, who appeared before the sultan’s mother in Constantinople with green classes and kalmukan and managed to release Elena region of the wheat tax. He found out that Tarnovo city administrator will check if the people of Elena ordered the building of a church without permission. Hadzhi Ivan Kisyov ordered one night to plaster the walls with lime mixed with charcoal to make it look old and smoked. Hadzhi Ivan greeted kindly messengers, gave them 30 gold coins, showed them the building and said, “Greetings from me to your leader and tell him that the people of Elena did not build a church, but repaired the old floor. ”
The exterior of the church is dominated by the appearance of the city. Its walls are made of stone of 1 m thickness, the windows – with iron bars and that of the altar – as a loophole. The door is made of thick oak planks, iron and has a good lock mechanism. It is covered with heavy stone slabs. The church was consecrated on the Annunciation Day – March 25, 1805.
The inscribed stone, mounted on the left front of the altar, made by “Doyno Yereya” says that the temple was built from scratch, after being burned by “agaryanskih tateh” (agaryan thieves). Priest Doyno noticed the name of 12 donors, including Stoyan Mihalyuv- Makariopolski Hilarion’s father.
The loss of historical parchment manuscripts which burned together with the literary treasure was very difficult. Today is deposited there a collection of 340 books.
The church “St. Nikola” was painted entirely by well-known painters from David and Elena Yakov originating in Bolertsi neighbourhood, which completed their work in 1817-1818. The murals are of exceptional value and are declared monuments of national importance. On the walls there are images of Saint Methodius from Moravia, Georgi Novi of Sofia, St. Sava and St. Kliment Ohridski, which is one of the few in Bulgaria and Macedonia and has an artistic merit. The wooden iconostasis and the bishop’s throne are also of great artistic value.
In 1966, the church was structurally reinforced. During the restoration work on the church frescoes above the north door, a stone plaque with an embossed image of the beautiful temple patron St. Nikola was added. In the fall of 1987, the church was restored and finally exposed for visits.

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