Traveling between Vacha Dam and Plovdiv, we decided to turn a little from the road to visit a historical cultural monument of national importance. Right next to the city of Perushtitsa are the ruins of the Red Church, which was an extremely impressive temple for its time!
Where is located and how to visit it
The church is around 20 km from Plovdiv and only 2 km from the center of Perushtitsa. There are many brown signs leading to it and it is easy to navigate to the small lay-by. Don’t expect a large parking lot, the car is left to the main road and from there continue on foot on a well-defined path along the canal. You can reach a ticket center, and the fee for adults is 4 BGN.
💡 You can take advantage of a combined ticket at a price of 7 BGN, which includes the main attractions in Perushtitsa – the Historical Museum, the temple of self-sacrifice “St. Archangel Michael” and the Danov’s school.
Origin and architecture
Its construction is a result of the Ecumenical Council in Serdica in 343, after which mass construction of cult Christian buildings in the Rhodopes began. The church is believed to have been built in three different periods. The central building, which is a tetraconch, was built in the IV century and reached an impressive 17 m in height! The second construction period is at the end of the V and the beginning of the VI century, during the reign of Emperor Anastasius I. The probable reason for this reconstruction was the growing number of Christians in these lands and the need for space in the temples. The main building has been reconstructed and limbos, a chapel and a baptistery have been built, and the interior has been richly painted for the first time. Most likely barbarian invasions imposed the third period of construction – from the late X and early XI centuries. Then the church was restored and repainted.
The Red Church – past and present
The Church of the Holy Mother of God functioned fully from the IV to the XIV century. The name “Red Church” was given to it because of the Roman bricks and pink mortar used to build it. Of the once impressive dimensions (32 m long and 29 m wide), ruins remain today, mostly from the northern part of the main building. The preserved parts reach a height of 14 m. Some of the mosaics are saved in the museum of Perushtitsa, and others can be seen on the spot. UNESCO believes that they are unique and similar to those in the Basilica of San Vitale / Ravenna / and the Sinai Monastery.
Today the church is fortified, and the area around it has been renovated and turned into a wonderful place for recreation and walking. It’s possible to look at she from every possible angle! To go inside, to look away or to sit and admire her for a while… It has become one of the most photographed and visited places in the area. It’s undoubtedly one of the most remarkable early Christian monuments in Southeast Europe!