First Bulgarian Kingdom


The largest of the Christian buildings in Bulgaria after the conversion was the Great Basilica of Pliska. This impressive church was built in the Outer City. It has been established that there was an older pagan sanctuary built on the same spot, which also had a cruciform shape.

The basilica was 99 meters long and 29.5 meters wide. It is formed of two almost equal parts - a large atrium and a proper church. It had a simple undivided narthex, and on the altar side - a single apse with a deep pre-apse space. Outside the apse was pentagonal. Special rooms at the eastern end of the side naves were designed for the church service. To the north and south of these altar rooms, an outbuilding was attached to the church building. The northern one served as a chapel, in which the steps of a wide altar table, the refectory table, is preserved. The southern one served as a baptistery. The two outbuildings were built after the construction of the church. Their foundations, the only ones preserved, differ from the foundations of the great building.

The main entrance of the church in the western faucet of the atrium was very solemnly designed. The thick foundations suggest that in front of the west façade, a massive, almost square body resembling a tower protruded. The ground floor was a deep passage through which one could enter the vast courtyard. Unlike the traditional atriums of the basilicas of the early Christian era, there was no well or stone receptacle (phiala) in the courtyard in front of the basilica. There was a well in the south nave of the church itself, it remained from the previously existing pagan temple.

The large basilica in the Outer City was directly connected to the palace buildings. Between the eastern gate of the Inner City and the western one (the main entrance of the basilica) laid a perfectly straight path, paved with huge irregular stone blocks. Representatives of the khan's princely court and the ruler himself passed through it when he had to go and return from the Great Basilica.

The size of the basilica in the Outer City is astounding. Its dimensions and its impressive body harmonise with the space of the fortified field of Pliska. For the situation in which it appears, it is a rare and unusual monument of early Christianity in Lower Moesia in the IX century.

The ongoing construction and restoration works of the larger basilica of Pliska, for several years now, aim to restore this monumental testimony of Bulgarian culture in its entirety. Only by standing in front of it, will visitors be able to understand and comprehend that monumental power and desire to build colossal structures, carrying the history and art of the ancient Bulgarian people.