We visited this medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Church en route to the Boyana waterfall, and it was definitely worth the stop. A UNESCO world heritage site, the church was built in stages between the 10th-13th centuries, with the west wing added in the 19th century. 

The exterior of the church at first seems a little drab, but on closer inspection you can admire the detailed brickwork and designs.

The side view is also pretty impressive:

In this side view picture, the right hand side is the oldest part of the church (10th-11th century) while the two floored part on he left was built in the 13th century. The stone front entrance (off the left hand side of the photo) was added in the 19th century. 

However, the most interesting features of the church are the incredible frescoes inside. These feature saints and patrons of the church, in particular many of the frescoes depict the life of St. Nicholas. In the dome of the oldest part of the church there is a spectacular representation of Christ Pantocrator, with the surrounding walls covered with angels and the Evangelists. There are actually two layers of frescoes, and in some places the lower (older) layer is visible where the upper has chipped away.

Photo credit: Georgy Palpurin ShareBulgaria te (Wikipedia)

These frescoes really are incredible – both for the quality of painting and their preservation. Although there was a guide there to explain the stories behind them, I would recommend reading up on the highlights beforehand online or in a guidebook so you know what to look out for.

We spent around 45 minutes visiting the church. They only allow in 10 visitors at a time for 15 minutes per group, so there was a certain amount of queuing outside involved, although the church is set in a beautiful garden area which was very peaceful to relax in. Photos are not allowed inside the church, and guests should not touch the frescoes. We were advised to leave large bags at the entrance so as not to accidentally hit anything with them.


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