The Grand Episcopal Basilica in Plovdiv in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The site was presented with the ancient mosaics of the future European Capital of Culture at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris by the Minister of Culture Boil Banov, the Deputy Minister of Tourism Irena Georgieva, the Mayor of Plovdiv Ivan Totev and the President of the America for Bulgaria Foundation Nancy Schiller.
The Episcopal Basilica of Philippopolis was built in the 4th century, shortly after Christianity became an official religion in the Roman Empire. It is located near the central square of Plovdiv and is the largest early Christian church opened on the territory of Bulgaria. Its floor is adorned with more than 2,000 square meters of mosaics that impressed with the richness of colors and images. The laymen are decorated with over 100 birds, symbolizing paradise, with each of the paintings made of fine colored pebbles different from the others.
The basilica is 36 meters wide and its length is over 90 meters. Impressive is the architecture of the building. It is built of central and two side ships, an apse, an anteroom and an open courtyard with a colonnade. The interior of the basilica was also decorated with columns and frescoes. The mosaics are in two layers, and in the Middle Ages, the terrain is used as a necropolis. The size and decoration of the basilica, as well as its location near the forum of the ancient city, are the reason for believing that a rich and influential Christian community lived in Philippopolis in the 4th century.
Our country’s hopes for the inclusion of the Episcopal Basilica and Roman mosaics in the UNESCO list are to be submitted by the end of January next year in order for the proposal to be considered in September 2018. The basilica itself is expected to open for visitors in the beginning of 2019 when the restoration works will be completed. Only days ago it became clear that Gabrovo was included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.