Two small churches with lateral choirs in southwest Bulgaria




The article deals with two neglected monuments in southwest Bulgaria. The first one is the church of the Holy Trinity in the village of Pastuh and the second is the church of St Nicolas in the village of Vukovo. Both of them follow the barrel-vaulted single-nave architectural type with lateral choirs and they share common morphological and structural characteristics. The similarities between the two churches allow us to talk about “twin churches”.
These monuments represent a very simple architectural structure. They are covered with saddleback roof made of stone slabs. At the west wall-face there is a big arch with responds that reach the level of the ground. The lu­nette is constructed deeper, about 0.50m. The choirs are annexed at the la­teral wall-faces and the sanctuary apse projects outwards to the east. The bar­rel-vaulted single-nave churches were wall-painted from their lower to upper parts.
The two monuments are part of a group of eight churches with related ty­pological, structural and morphological characteristics, built in a certain ti­me period in southwest Bulgaria. According to the evidence, the church of St George in the village of Studena is the earliest monument of the group and it is dated back to the second half of the 16th century. Thus, all other mo­nu­ments, the churches at Pastuh and at Vukovo included, were built in the end of the 16th or in the beginning of the 17th century.
There are a lot of questions about the gathering of these small churches in that area in that particular time. The Ecumenical Patriarchate maybe de­cided the establishment of small churches in these new archbishoprics aiming at the mental exaltation of the believers, who were emotionally affected by the abolition of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria. Another assumption could be that the monasteries of the region tried to support spiritually and ethically the believers, owing to the arrival of the heterodox conqueror, and they decided to built metochia close to residential areas. 


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