The Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis, site of a Christian church estimated to date from the fourth century and which boasts 2000 square metres of beautiful mosaics, opens to the public on April 19.
An official opening ceremony was held on April 18, with attendance limited because of anti-epidemic precautions. The event was streamed live on Facebook.
The ceremony was addressed by Plovdiv mayor Zdravko Dimitrov, US ambassador Herro Mustafa and the head of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, Nancy Schiller.
The opening is the culmination of seven years of preservation and restoration work, and the construction of a special structure over the site.
The site was discovered in 1982. Work on the Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis project began in 2014 as a public-private partnership between the America for Bulgaria Foundation, Plovdiv municipality and the Ministry of Culture.
The basilica site is 82.8 metres in length and 36 metres wide, which makes it the largest ancient basilica building in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans.
Archaeologists say that the basilica functioned from the mid-fourth century to the end of the sixth century. In the Middle Ages, there was a Christian necropolis on the site.
The modern visitor centre, on two levels, also has an interactive Discovery Zone designed for children, a playground outside built with a contribution from power utility EVN, a café, and will in future also be used for cultural events such as concerts.
Fifty companies, 48 of them Bulgarian, were involved in the completion of the project.
The America for Bulgaria Foundation contributed more than 13 million leva to the project.
The visitor centre is open seven days a week from 9am to 6pm.
(Screenshot from the opening event via Facebook)
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