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Church of St Constantine and Helena

The place where the church is located is glowing with the fire of blood-drenched events in the past. Here, at the end of the Antiquity, there was an Early Christian sanctuary initially dedicated to Severianus and Memnos who perished for their faith together with the 38 Plovdiv martyrs killed at the time of Emperor Diocletian (the beginning of the 4th century).

Later the church was dedicated to the Apostles St. Constantine and St. Helena. The church is mentioned in the travel narrative of the German theologian and traveller Stefan Gerlach who visited Plovdiv in 1578. Divine service was conducted once a year - something that was very characteristic of the early centuries of Ottoman domination in the Bulgarian lands. In the beginning of the 19th century the church near Hissar Kapi was already a sad ruin. Owing to the principal church warden Todor Moravenov, an influential dignitary in the city, considerable funds were raised until 1830 for the restoring of this oldest Orthodox church in Plovdiv. The church was restored in 1832 together with the other famous Church of St. Kyriaki [St Nedelya] in Plovdiv. It represents a three-nave basilica with dimensions 26 x 18 m. The high iconostasis with magnificent Baroque woodcarving, made by loannis Paskoulis from Metsovo (Greece) following the so-called "Viennese" model, was completed in 1836. In addition to the beautiful woodcarving, the iconostasis is also remarkable for its polychrome decoration and gilt, which make it very impressive. It has two rows of large icons, all of which are creations of the genius of the National Revival period: Zahariy Zograph. The icon-painters Nikola of Edirne and Stanislav Dospevski worked successively here. The proskynetaria are carved by the Debar masters Dimiter and Angel Stanishev. In 1864-1866, the icons in the church were entirely painted by the artists Stefan Andonov and Atanas Gyudjenov, preserving also the old icons of St. Constantine and St. Helena, and of the Holy Mother of God. The church ensemble is surrounded by a stone wall 6 to 8 m high and with a heavy brick cornice, and the gates to the courtyard are with strong oak wings.

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