Boyana Church (1979)
Bulgaria

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Located on the outskirts of Sofia, Boyana Church consists of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th century by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-storey building to be erected next to it. The frescoes in this second church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings. The ensemble is completed by a third church, built at the beginning of the 19th century. This site is one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art. 

The church was recently restored by means provided by UNESCO as part of their preservation program for World Cultural Heritage Sites.  The frescoes of Boyana are all dated to around 1259.  At the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the frescoes, Bulgaria issued in 1961 the below set of three stamps. 

Bulgaria 1961. Fresco from Boyana Church, showing Theodor Tiro, one of the ancient Bulgarian rulers.  Bulgaria 1961. Boyana Church, seen from the east.  Bulgaria 1961. Fresco from Boyana Church, showing Madame Desislava.  

Seen from the outside the church seems of absolutely nothing, and one would never notice its importance.  In the recently built neighbouring museum one can admire the fantastic frescoes that are famous for their nearly human faces as opposed to the stern and severe faces of saints and other personalities of the time normally displayed in the religious world. The church was built by Sebastocrator (Governor) Kaloyan and Madame Desislava. 
 
Bulgaria 1969. Boyana Church.   Bulgaria 1973. Sebastocrator Kaloyan. Bulgaria 1973. Madame Desislava.

In 1973 came the full set and souvenir sheet, showing the most important frescoes of Boyana in all their charm and fresh colours.

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. Virgin Mary.

Virgin Mary

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. Unknown Holy Man.

Unknown Holy Man

Bulgaria 1973. Boyala Church. St. Eustratius.

St. Eustratius

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. Deacon Laurentius.

Deacon Laurentius

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. Souvenir sheet. Group of clergymen.

This happy "family group" is a 
group of religious men of the time.
The cachet printed in gold shows
the profile of the church.  Also the
selvedge of the sheet is printed in gold.

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. Czar Constantine.

Czar Constantine

 

Bulgaria 1973. Boyana Church. St. Efrem.

St. Efrem

 
The United Nations (New York) issued in 1981 two stamps showing Sebastocrator Kaloyan and his wife, Madame Desislava. 

The frescoes are shown full size on the relatively small stamps.  Both stamps are alike, but in different face values. 

The stamps give a good impression of the splendour of the frescoes.  The stamps are shown here largely oversized.  Their natural size is 2,5 x 3,5 cm.

  • United Nations (New York) 1981.  Madame Desislava and Sebastocrator Kaloyan.

United Nations (New York) 1981. 20c. Madame Desislava and Sebastocrator Kaloyan.  

United Nationa (New York) 1981. Boyana Church. 31c. Madame Desislava and Sebastocrator Kaloyan.

Many thanks to Maria Hoffmeister (Germany) for all help and support. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Bulgaria-section,  for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved