St. Petka Church
Foundation “Revival of Belchin” and a group of donors
Village of Belchin, Samokov Municipality, Bulgaria
Period of implementation
June 2006 – October 2007
Glavbolgarstroy’s role in the project
Nature of works
- Architectural-construction and assembly works
- The original idea for the restoration of the nearly ruined St. Petka Church in Belchin – an artistic monument of 1st category, gradually grew into the production of a complete ensemble concept based on a comprehensive study of the terrain around the church and the hill St. Spas above it. In this ensemble, the church is undoubtedly the most important and valuable element and all other elements of the complex are subordinate to it – the church bell tower, stone fountain with benches, pavements, retaining walls, fence of the church complex with both entrance gates, crosses on old graves restored and artistically exposed. Adjacent to the church an ethnographic museum was built up, an affiliate to the City History Museum in the town of Samokov. On the St. Spas hill, archaeological studies of early Christian church and ancient fortress are ongoing, which testify to the rich culture and lively trade in the region darting from IV and early V century.
- The restoration of St. Petka Church in Belchin is based on detailed recording of existing architectural ruins, memories of local residents, archival photos from the book of Prof. V. Zahariev. The project adheres to the maximum approximation to the original. The restoration works demanded for a team-based approach because of the complexity of the problem and the isolation of the site. The architectural design actually creates an exact copy of the church’s dilapidated volume. The constructive design retains the original only in the eastern wall of the apse, while the remaining walls (west, north and south) are rebuilt with a hidden CTD structure. The narthex of the church, dating to older times, has retained all wooden structures that are in good condition (columns, beams) on the ground floor, which are exposed to maximal expression of the wooden details. Modern heat insulation and waterproofing (fiber, mineral wool VOALIT) was executed in the intercommunication and roof structure. During the reconstruction designers made a bold opening of the porch on the ground level to the north and to the west aiming to expose the magnificent natural scenery.
- The next stage of the church restoration refers to the preservation and exhibition of the original interior remains – wooden stairs to the atrium, the iconostasis was reconstructed after the original, copies of some of the original icons were drawn, others were completely restored, the thrones were renovated, the existing flooring of ceramic bricks in the noase and the altar were preserved. So the interior was approximated to the maximum to the essence of the missing church.
- The building of the church belfry’s own volume from the south established itself as a necessary space and dominating style. Similar building materials used in the belfry construction, silhouette study of the relationship between the two volumes create a sense of harmony and organic integration with the existing natural scenery.
- Another element of the church ensemble is the stone fountain with analogically built benches – in the spirit and tradition of stone fountains.
- The protection of the church complex against pests forced the closing of the church property with an iron fence, developped as a separate component to the project. Part of the project and details of both entrance gates to the complex – the main from the east side of the apse, and the smaller one from the northeast at the beginning of the steep scenic path, shaped over time as a natural approach to the church cemetery.
- The development of a comprehensive ensemble concept includes the creating of a parking lot for cars and buses to the east of the church property, as there are ideas for future inclusion of this complex in the cultural route covering the key cultural and historical monuments in this region.