St. Nicholas church in Koprivshtitsa
Updated: Jan 23
"Saint Nicholas" is a revival Christian church, located about 800 meters south of the center of the city of Koprivshtitsa, at the very southern end of Sredna mahala. The temple is located on the left bank of the river Kosivo Dere.
On the southern facade, through writing with built-in bricks, you will find the following inscription:
Храмъ Стителѧ Оца̀ Nа̀шегω Nikола̀ѧ
The temple is currently declared a cultural monument of local importance.
The church is known as the "New Church" because it was built after the old church of Koprivshtitsa "Holy Mother of God", which at some point started to become cramped for the growing population.
The decision to erect a second church in Koprivshtitsa was made by the local church trustees on June 29 (St. Peter's Day) 1839 and was recorded by the then city teacher Hieromonk Neofit Rilski:
Мы жители села Копривщенскаго, понеже милостию Божиею умножихом ся и распространихом ся в това богодарованно нам село, щото едва можеме да се вмещаваме во светая наша церковь, която имаме само една от старо време... согласихме се сички селене мали и велики единомисленно и общебратственно да направиме и еще една церква в селото..., с такова обаче намерение и согласие да буде тая новата церква подчинена под вехтата.
Local leaders and priests prepare a special protocol, which is kept in the temple even today.
The petition to the Sultan was written personally by Neofit Rilski. The Sultan's decree was issued on May 8, 1842. The construction was entirely financed by the residents of Koprivshten and was completed two years later.
Gavrail from Edirne was hired as the chief construction foreman. Craftsmen from Bratsigovo, Mirkovo, as well as a carpenter's guild from Koprivshtitsa participate in the process.
There is a legend that when the church was already finished, the Pasha of Plovdiv came to see it in person. The huge building angered him to no end and he demanded that it be immediately demolished to the ground, but the Bulgarians managed with a little trick to save the temple that was built with great love and desire.
The round window above the entrance to the church is decorated with metal ornaments, some of which depict the Turkish coat of arms. Koprivshtenci used this detail to their advantage, explaining that the coat of arms is a symbol of the generosity and good help of Sultan Abdul Aziz. Thus the temple was saved.
The building is a domeless three-nave basilica with three apses on the eastern side.
The central nave, which is higher, is divided from the side naves by six pairs of oak columns plastered with mortar to resemble marble. The ceilings of the side aisles are paneled, which has typical Renaissance decoration of lozenges and other ornaments.
The walls are of unplastered stone masonry, in which the gaps between the individual blocks are covered with a light pink mixture of finely broken tiles and precipitated olive oil.
The eaves, typical of Koprivshtitsa, are made of wood.
The rectangular fields above the larger windows are filled with relief ornamentation.
The floor is laid with white marble slabs specially ordered from the island of Marmara.
The interior is well lit by large windows.
The temple was not dug into the ground, as was the law at the time.
The temple occupies a central part of an architectural ensemble, which includes a courtyard space surrounded by a massive stone wall, two buildings located to the west and north of the temple, the bell tower and two fountains – one (Pallaveeva) is located in the courtyard (northwest of the church), and the other – Moravenova fountain, outside to the eastern entrance to the churchyard.
Moravenova fountain was built in 1843 with funds from the brothers Valko and Rashko Moravenovi, who were one of the main donors. They gave money for the construction of the arched stone Moravenov bridge over the Kosivo dere, located immediately south of the church complex.
The stone belfry was built in 1927 with the funds of Hadji Nencho Palaveev - the benefactor of Koprivshtitsa. It was built later and I took a left next to the bell tower.
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