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St. Athanasius Church, ArbanasiCod 2514

The St. Athanasius Church is located in Arbanasi, Veliko Tarnovo municipality. It is dated as a church from Reinaissance period. The Church is a stone building. The iconography of the church is simple and easily perceived. In the churchyard lies the Chapel St. Haralambos. The Church is one of the symbols of Arbanasi Village.

It is a solid built stone building, covered with a gable roof with dimensions of: 18,35 x 10,64m. Longitudinal walls are thick, some of the contours give the small openings for windows. More plastic is the western façade. There are two inward openings, arched, above which some alignments are located, which ends with sharp arches. One motif of three arches, of shallow niches, pseudo constructive, enframes the main entry into the real church.
In terms of composition, the temple consists of an altar, nave and narthex along the east-west axis and the chapel “St. Haralambos” in the south. The nave of the church is built on a plan opened to the east and ends with a semicircular apse. In the altar area is a stone table placed on the prismatic foundation. On the eastern wall there are a (proskomidie) deep niche and a sink to wash the plate at the church. In addition, there is a small rectangular niche, where the Ecumenical Patriarchate coat of arms is painted – double-headed eagle. The nave is lnked tot he entry of the nartex by a wooden door with two wings. The vaulting of these parts of the church is massive and a cylindrical vault is supported by a succession of arches.
The chapel is a built on a open plan, the apse is reduced to a shallow arched niche. In the northeastern corner of the altar stands the sink, configured so as to wash the plate of the church. The chapel and the hall are covered with wooden bolted beams.
The church was built in the years of 30s of the seventeeth century. Painting of the church was finished in 1667 according to the inscription of the donor located in the nave. It mentions the names of donors – Archon Chir Mano and his wife Vasilisi, kir Vasilios and his wife Despo and arhiepiscopul care Archbishop who was working at the time and the Metropolitan Gerasimos the IInd – Kakavelas.
The iconography of the church “St. Athanasius” is simple and affordable. Iconographic approach for the altar space is a traditional one. The shell of the apse is occupied by a large-scale image of St. Virgin Platittera. Below is the composition “Adoration of the victim”. Both sides are images of the Father liturgists of the Church – St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Athanasius of Alexandria and others. In the first register of the south wall are shown images of St. Modest, St. Spiridon, St. Achilles, St. Antipas and others. Above, along the walls of the nave, is the altar frieze with images of bust of saints. On the north wall of the nave is developed in 14 scenes the suffering cycle of the Christ, “Washing of the Feet,” “The last supper”, “The Kiss of Judas”, “Carrying the Cross”, “Crucifixion” and others. The cycle of big holidays is located on the southern wall. There are presented scenes such as “Candlemas”, “Baptism”, “Transfiguration”, “The Raising of Lazarus” and “Entry into Jerusalem”. The west wall of the nave is held by a large composition with many figures of the “Assumption”. It is flanked on both sides by smaller scenes: “Virgin Birth” and “Introduction of Mary in the temple.” On the vault rises an impressive image of “Christ Pantocrator”, “St. Trinity of the New Testament” and “Christ Emanuel”.
The iconography of the narthex is dedicated to the cult of the Virgin. The arcc describes the “Keharitomeni” – (Interpretation of ecleziastical chant in images “O tebe raduetsya” (from Russian “О тебе радуется), giving the decorating appearance of the walls, on which itis developed the Akathist of the Virgin in a complete cycle of 24 scenes. On the eastern wall of the navețs door it is painted patron of the church – Saint Athanasius of Alexandria. In this part of the church we can found in great images some of the holy women – Sf. Petka, Sf. Marina, Sf. Anastasia, Sf. Catherine, Sf. Irene and others.
The mural paintings in the “Sf. Haralambos” chapel were completed in 1726. Its authors are the painters from Tryavna, Tsonyu and Nedyu. In the apse, they have painted: the ” “St. Mary Shirshaya heaven” and underneath – “The Adoration of the victim”. On the southern wall are shown images of St. Gregory, St. Nicholas, St. Athanasius and St. Spiridon, and opposite them – the deacons St. Stephen and St. Romanus. In the western part of the north wall is the “Final Judgment”, and its traditional details. The composition of “Deisis” and the figures of St. Constantine and Elena are nearby.

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