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The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Veliko TărnovoCod 2585


The Church of Saints Peter and Paul lies at the north foot of the Tsarevets Citadel. The church was constructed after Bulgarian king Kaloyan transferred the relics of St. John Polivotski to the capital of Turnov in 1204. A monastery emerged around the church. It was built at the initiative of Anna-Maria (1221-1237 AD), the wife of tzar Ivan Asen the 2nd. After the capital Tarnovo was conquered by the Ottomans in 1393 the monastery serves as a patriarchal residence. After the Bulgarian Patriarchy is subordinated to Constantinopol (1416-1439 AD), the complex became the residence of the episcope and Church of Saints Peter and Paul Episcopes Department.
The architecture of the temple is representative for its group being considered a tradition between the Constantinople version and the traditional eco – crowned church. From west to south a gallery reveals ending in the eastern side with skevofilakiy. The gallery had initially opened arcades but at the end of the 16th century the spaces between the arches were covered with bricks.
There are three layers of pictures. The earliest layer dates back at the beginning of 13th century and only the medallions with the images of St. Gurii, St. Simon and St. Avif.

On a large-scale the renovation of the murals in the nave and narthex took place in the 40s of the XV century. At that time, it was already serving as bishop department. Since then fragments of the altar scene survived – Eucharist cycle, the cycle of so-called Gospel of Sunday morning, images of the Church Fathers – St. Gregory the Theologian, John the Merciful, the Great German and others. The northern part of the east wall is decorated with frescoes the scene “Christ in the tomb,” with distinct Western influences.

From the first register on the southern wall is preserved the composition “Deisis” images of theologians and hermits – Gerasim, Hariton, Vaarlam, Yoasaf, Yoanikii. On the north wall there are pictures of Paul Tiveyski, Pachomius with the angel and Onufrii. On the pillars separating the nave from the narthex are shown pictures of the most honored Bulgarian saint, St. Ivan Rilski, the patrons of the church St. Peter and St. Paul, Christ the God-bearer, Archangels Michael and Archangel Gabriel. The spaces between the arches are occupied by the family tree of Christ – ancient paintings: Drevo Yessica and the medallions of Saints Boris and Gleb images. On the west wall above the images of St. Joseph Pesnopevets and St. Cosmas Creator is situated the scene “the assumption”. The vestibule of the temple keeps a fragment of the image of the 6th Ecumenical Synod, held in Constantinople in 680-681.
The wall paintings in the gallery are completed in the last two decades of the sixteenth century. On the north wall and parts of wall calendar (Menelog) can be seen for the months of September, November, December, January and February.

The church “St. Ivan Rilski” is part of the Monastery of “St. Peter and Paul.” On the lower floor is a crypt. In it, according to tradition monastic bones of the deceased inhabitants of the monastery were stored. The present church is located on the second floor. The facades were also decorated with coloured-plastic ceramics.
Found during the archaeological excavations, the remains of a wall paintings show that this is the work of the best painters of the artistic circle of Turnovo.
The church plays an important role in the history of the Second Bulgarian Empire and during the dramatic events held in Turnovo after its capture by Ottoman Turks in 1393.
In 1194/1195 Bulgarian Tsar Asen (1186-1196) bears the remains the most respected Bulgarian saint, St. Ivan Rilski from Sredets (Sofia) in the capital Tarnovo. They are preserved in a special place recently built with this purpose in Trapezitsa fortress-church. The monastery expanded around it. After the capture of Turnovo by the Ottoman Turks at the initiative of Patriarch Evtimii saint’s relics were transferred to the new patriarchal residence at the temple “St. Peter and Paul” to be kept in the church “St. Ivan Rilski”. Solemn processions are held here for important celebrations. In 1469 the monks of Rila receive permission to bring the relics of their patron in Rila monastery, where they are today.




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