“Saintess Petka” church

sv_petka4_1100“Saintess Petka” church is one of the relics of the village of Belchin and the entire Samokov region. It was declared a 1st degree monument of artistic culture. The church has typical medieval architecture – mono nave, with arches, and with an attached narthex building. This form was built in the 16th Century, and it was laid on the foundations of an earlier temple, dated based on archaeological data during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom – to about 13th-14th Century. The first church was burnt down during the Ottoman invasion in the last quarter of the 14th Century.


In the last years of the 20th Century, the church was abandoned and dilapidated. From ruins it was brought to a new life by some patriotic Belchin residents. With their donations they revived not only the church but also inspired Christian and patriotic feelings among local people and laid solid foundations for the whole cultural complex.


All icons inside the church have the same stylistic traits typical for the mid-17th Century. Some researchers declare St. Pimen Sographski or his pupils as painters since they used to work in the area of Sredets Little Mount of Athos during those times. The icons bear archaic patterns typical for the late Byzantine tradition as typically applied by Athos painters. This style is popular for most synchronous churches with frescoes in the county of Samokov town. The inscriptions of dedication are in archaic Bulgarian language on some of the icons revealing the ethnicity of painters, as well as the strong religious feeling and charity tradition of Belchin settlers while suffering foreign religious and economic oppression.