The Great Episcopal Basilica in Plovdiv will be officially opened on April 18, 2021. The date was not chosen by chance. UNESCO then celebrates the International Day for the Protection of Cultural Monuments. The Great Episcopal Basilica of Philippopolis, as is the old name of Plovdiv, is included in the UNESCO indicative list of important cultural and natural sites. Unfortunately, the opening will so far be only online, due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 epidemic. The ceremony will be broadcast live as an event on Facebook, as well as on the website of the Municipality of Plovdiv, and the Facebook pages of the Municipality of Plovdiv and Old Plovdiv.
After the measures are loosen, probably in the summer, the Episcopal Basilica from the 4th century and its unique mosaics will become available for visitors on site. Upon entering the attraction, guests of the city will be amazed by the rich colours and shapes of the stone mosaics arranged on the floor.
Among the most attractive is a mosaic of a magnificent peacock, which will greet visitors as a stylized drawing on the outer facade of the attraction. Its beauty is further emphasized by various mosaics of birds, which are only one part of the more than 100 images of birds found in the basilica. According to archaeologists, the birds symbolize the Garden of Eden.
The peacock embodies the resurrection of Christ and the immortality of the human soul. It is no coincidence that the scale of this mosaic is larger than the other birds around it.
In the basilica you have the chance to see two different layers of mosaics. The lower one depicts mainly stylized geometric figures and crosses. They are only in four colours – white, black, red and ocher. The next layer already relies on hundreds of birds and brighter colors.
There are also differences between the south and middle naves of the basilica, which suggests that different masters worked on the arrangement of the colour paintings.
The basilica has three naves, and is 86 meters long and 39 meters wide. The building was on two floors, and its weight was supported by marble columns. The proof that the church is episcopal comes from an inscription found in 2106 in Greek, which also helps to date it from the 4th century. It is believed that the basilica was destroyed by an extremely strong earthquake that occurred around the 6th century.
To fully immerse yourself in the magic of the heritage of Roman mosaics in Plovdiv, be sure to also visit the Small Basilica and the Eirene building, located in the cultural center “Trakart”. The three sites together are applying for inclusion in the World Heritage List under the auspices of UNESCO and since 2018 are on the indicative list, which is the first and most important step to make this happen.