The Boyana Church “St. Nicholas and St. Panteleimon” is a medieval Bulgarian church famous mainly for its finely made wall paintings. It is located in the slopes of the Vitosha Mountain, the neighbourhood of Boyana in Sofia.

It is a symbol of the contribution of the Bulgarian monument art of that period to the European cultural space.

In 1979 the monument was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. In the construction of the church there are three construction stages and the expansion was from East to West.

The first part was built at the end of the 10th – the beginning of the 11th century. It is a small, monoapside cross-domed church with in-built pillars which formed an inner cross. The façade ornaments of the mutlistepped arched bays and the arches at the openings are supplemented with the so called wolf teeth of non-orthogonally places ceramic objects at the arches. Those masonry elements were used at older Bulgarian temples in the towns of Tarnovo, Ohrid and Kostour.

During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom

In the middle of the 13th century the church was expanded upon the will and with the financial support of the local governor – Sebastocrator Kaloyan and his wife Dessislava. The extension was a two-storey building. The ground floor which serves as the donors’ tomb is covered with a semi-cylindrical arch with two bays arcosolia in the Northern and the Southern wall and the next floor is in the architectural style of the original church and it used to serve as the family’s chapel. What is typical of the façade decoration of the second part of the church is the use of ceramoplastic ornaments.

The final part of the church was erected in the end of the 19th century with donations from the local population. After the liberation the peasants wanted to build a new church by destroying the old medieval and Renaissance church. It was saved though by the Bulgarian queen Eleonora, tsar Ferdinand’s second wife, who gave the peasants another place. Ferdinand arranged the beautiful small park around the church and planted Norht American sequoia tress and other unique for Bulgaria plant species.

The wall paintings in the church date back to different ages but the Boyana church owes its popularity mainly to the paintings of 1259 which reflect the unique achievements of the Bulgarian medieval culture.

Unfortunately, the artists’ names are unknown.

The Boyana master is used as a general name which stands for a team of wall-painters. What is known about them is that they represented the Painting School of Tarnovo. The preserved frescoes are characterized by the array of light and vivid nuances. They reflect the technique of an exquisite master with solid knowledge of the canon, but they also demonstrate that this was person with very precise and attentive eye, quick thought and mind.

The painter connects the rest of the religious mystery with actual facts of the Bulgarian folklore and culture.

The Boyana church displays 89 different scenes with 240 human figures either individually or together.