THE ALTAR WALL
Scenes fROM mother mARY'S AKTHIST
See the Virtual Tour of the Church of the Nativity of Arbanasi.
The Village of Arbanasi, one of Bulgaria’s most actractive settlements, is located on a high plateau 4km northeast of Veliko Tarnovo. Traditional architectural style are mainteined throughiut the village, and fortified houses from the 17th century are well-preseved and open to the public as museums. You can also visit many preserved churches and monasteries from the 16th and 17th cnturies.
The settlement of Arbanassi has preserved its grand spirit form the past – its imposing castle resembling houses with fantastic large gardens fenced by high walls with winding narrow cobblestone streets, spacious squares which are noted for their impressive architectonic water fountains.
Arbanassi owes most of its glory to its Orthodox churches. Seven Christian churches were constructed, extended and iconpainted time and again during the period the from the mid 14th century to the late 18th century. Most prominent among them is the Bishopric Nativity Church. It has a complex architectural composition. It consist of a naos (men’s department ), narthex ( women’s department), a chapel to St.John the Forerunner with a narthex joint by an L-shaped gallery on the Northern and Western walls.
The mural decoration of the church is no less impressive than its architectural forms. The icons were painted in a majestic hand with exceptional precision and staunchness exhibiting a great fortitude of spirit. All the walls and vaults of over 2 000 sq. m. were covered in icons. Hundreds of compositions were painted, while the number of figures in the compositions exceeds several thousands.
The frescoes were made in several stages in 1597, 1632, 1638, 1643, 1649, 1681.
The splendid mural decoration had an exceptionally powerful influence upon the worshipers. The numerous iconographic cycles and scenes presented almost all the topics from the Old and New Testaments. Thus the walls of the church were actually a special book whose illustrations developed, in the Christian population, the notion of a lifestyle corresponding to the recommendations of the Church.
The mural paintings in the church were made by leading icon-painters and their teams from the most famous workshops on the Balkan Peninsular.