The Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva is somewhat skipped by the standard tourist routes, which are mostly concentrated in the central parts of the city. It is located at the side of the road leading you out of the city, just right next to the bridge, known amongst the locals as the Snail.
On a cool sunny morning in March the taxi is carefully making progress along the narrow neighborhood street frustratingly studded with asphalt undulations, and stops near the entrance of the Orthodox temple. Out of excitement I can hardly unlock my phone to start making pictures. Though I grew up in Rousse, I have never been here before.
The construction works began in 1939. They were initiated and mainly paid for by a local ceraftsman and businessman. The architecture of the church is a replica of the Round Church built by King Simeon the Great in Veliki Preslav and is the first successful attempt for the architectural plans intended for the restoration of the Golden Church to be implemented.
Craftsmen from the city worked on the carving of the iconostasis inside as well as on the painting of murals. The overall financing of the construction was also carried out through donations made by other churches in the city. The church was completed in 1944 when its consecration was done. It takes its name from the name of the last rock church in the Rusenski Lom River valley, the Church of Sveta Petka, which was buried under the ground after the Liberation.
A little anteroom with the traditional candle-selling counter greets me. Despite the solitude of this remote corner of spirituality, a smiling woman over 60 welcomes me with a good-nature look through her frames. The wood stove is booming and through the glass I see the playful flames darting up and then seemingly safely resting. I talk to her, she comes out following me around smiling, telling me that the Church Administration have applied for funding to restore the temple. I am told the church has never been restored ever since it was built and that the need is acute as the fence and other parts have begun to crumble.
I look at the murals and the painted glass windows, seeing the oozing light streaming through the dome and am engulfed in colour and tranquility. We exchange a few more words about the present and its people, us including, too busy to deny cultural values that uphold them, if only in churches. And yet, when she asks where I come from and what I do for a living, I see her genuine kindness. She’s an optimist. So am I.
Read more about the Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva here. Part of the materials for this article was provided by the Regional Museum of History in Rousse. See below a few more photos of the Church.
The photos in the article are owned by this website.