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Church “Nativity of Christ”, ArbanasiCod 2511

The “Nativity” Church is located in the south-west of the Arbanasi village. A massive stone structure built with dimensions of 28.80 x 10.40 m sheltered under broad slopes of the tile roof with three slopes. The apse stands up to half the eastern façade and has an independent coverage. According to the plan, the church consists of the altar, nave and narthex located on the east-west axis called “St. John the Baptist” in the north, combined with an L-shaped gallery to the north and west.
The “Nativity of Christ” Church has a long and complex history. In the second half of the sixteenth century, it was raised to place of worship, occupying the current volume of the nave. Painting icons is completed in 1597. In the second phase of construction, at the existing chapel, it is built a chapel to the north and a narthex to the west, joined by an arched gallery opened L-shapped to the north and an outer nave to the west. The construction work was carried out during 20 years in the XVIIth century until 1632. During the third stage of construction, the spaces between the entry arches, the gallery and the outer nartex to the west are built in stone, thin-walled. Window openings are made, protected by metal grilles. Chronological limits which falls into the wall installation are after 1632 and before the year 1643. The entire interior of the church is covered with paintings of icons, this being carried out in stages – in the years 1597, 1632, 1638, 1643, 1649, 1681. In these almost nine decades arises the unique mural assembly, which has no equal in the Bulgarian lands as coverage and thematic encyclopedia.

The iconostasis is a magnificent work of art in wooden sculpture, personalised by the Kantakuzin family. The greatest part of the northern wall is occupied by a large-scale composition “Drevo Jesseevo” (the family tree of Jesus Christ). In this scene, the biggest by surface area, the geneaology of the Christ’s family is represented. Above the arch , the Christ Pantocrator is described, with an image of angelic ranks, Mary, John the Baptist and the four evangelists with their symbols.

On the walls of the “Nativity” Church are written numerous inscriptions of donors indicating the name of the donor, and two portraits of the donor.

The ”Christ Nativity” Church is a part of a complex, which is the seat from where the largest metropolitan in Balkans – Tirnovo was ruled.

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