Inspiring, small and precious Sveta Petka Samardjiyska outstands in Sofia guided tours
The Church of St. Petka of the Saddlers or as in Bulgarian language, Sveta Petka Samardjiyska is another flower in the wreath of Sofia guided tours.
There used to be an old, small one-naved building partially dug into the ground located in the very centre of both the modern and the antique city, in the TZUM (Central Department Store) subway.The small church hiding among big buildings in the very centre of Sofia, is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church. The church that we have today, was constructed in the XI century. The crypt that was discovered after the WWII tells us of the existence of an older temple. As the crypt dates back to the IV century, it is believed that there used to be a temple at that time, though we cannot be absolutely sure.
Before the church was bigger and more spacious. It had а northern and southern niche and a narthex but they were destroyed.
The church is dedicated to St Petka, an 11th-century Bulgarian saint. The name of the church St. Petka (Paraskeva) comes from the name of the craftsmen who made saddles because they were the ones who reconstructed, decorated and maintained it. These people believed that Saint Petka was their patron.
Cultural monument St Petka of the Saddlers Church
Sofia guided tours shows the other history of the church. The history of its painting. The specialists talk about two layers dating back to the end of XIV – XV century and beginning of XVI century. The top layer, according to many scientists, who examined iconography, was made by the great icon painter St. Pimen of Zograph – the humble monk who had restored, built, and icon-painted over 300 churches and 15 monasteries in the dark years of the XVI – XVII centuries. His life is very little known but his works speak for him.
In the 1950s the church was announced a cultural monument and that saved it. Right after 9 September 1944 St Petka of the Saddlers Church had been buried beneath the earth for unknown reasons. For 45 years it had been closed and no priest served there. In 1992 the Bulgaian Orthodox Church wanted St Petka back.
Hard times for St Petka of the Saddlers Church
The times of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria were difficult for all the Christian temples. Many churches, temples were destroyed during those days. The Church of St Petka of the Saddlers and a few other churches were endangered. Especially after the XVI century. The Ottoman Empire concentrated its power in the lands of Bulgaria. These were difficult times. Some of the more active and public-spirited Christians in Sofia sent gifts to the Sultan. In a letter they also asked for some of the churches in the centre of Sofia to be saved. In that letter, St George Rotunda and St Petka of the Saddlers Church were especially mentioned. Their request was satisfied and the gifts accepted.
According to one theory, Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski is buried in the church.There are several researches but nothing has been proven.
The only fact known is that the inspiring, small and precious Sveta Petka Samardjiyska outstands in Sofia guided tours.