First discovered in 1982 during road construction in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, the Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis is being brought back to life thanks to a public-private partnership between the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF), Plovdiv Municipality, and Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture. The project for restoration of the Bishop’s Basilica began in 2014 and builds on the experience of ABF and the Plovdiv Municipality with the successful completion of another site in Plovdiv – the Small Basilica.
The Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis is the largest Early Christian temple in this country and was likely among the first to be erected in the Roman Empire after Christianity was legalized, in 313 AD.
The visitor center of the restored basilica will open its doors to visitors in 2021 and will reveal over 2,000 sq.m. Roman mosaics from the IV-VI century AD, exhibited on two levels – in situ and on the second floor. More than 100 unique medallions with different types of birds come to life on the mosaics – from dancing guinea fowls to peacocks with outstretched tails, from chattering parrots to a bird that feeds its young.
The center includes an interactive children’s “Discovery Zone” to present the Basilica’s history in an understandable, engaging manner. The outdoor area will include a children’s playground which incorporates the history of the Basilica site, a café, and a gathering place for entertainment. The playground is made possible through a contribution by EVN, the electrical power supply company for the region. EVN will also donate an electric car charging station at the Basilica.
The Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis is on the UNESCO tentative list and is pursuing inclusion on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.