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Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo

Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo

In the valley of the Roussenski Lom River, in north east Bulgaria, a complex of rock-hewn churches, chapels, monasteries and cells developed in the vicinity of the village of Ivanovo. This is where the first hermits had dug out their cells and churches during the 12th century. The 14th-century murals testify to the exceptional skill of the artists belonging to the Tarnovo School of painting.

Églises rupestres d'Ivanovo

Dans la vallée de la Roussenki Lom, au nord-est de la Bulgarie, un ensemble d’églises, de chapelles, de monastères et de cellules creusés dans le roc s’est développé à proximité du village d’Ivanovo. C’est là que les premiers ermites ont creusé leurs cellules et leurs églises au XIIe siècle. Les peintures murales qui datent du XIVe siècle témoignent d’une technique artistique exceptionnelle caractéristique de l’école de peinture de Tarnovo.

كنائس إيفانوفو المنحوتة في الصخر

يشهد وادي روسنكي لوم، شمال شرق بلغاريا، على نمو مجموعة من الكنائس والمعابد والأديرة والصوامع المحفورة في الصخر بالقرب من بلدة إيفانوفو حيث حفر الناسكون الأوائل صوامعهم وكنائسهم في القرن الثاني عشر. وتجسّد الرسومات الجدارية التي ترقى إلى القرن الرابع عشر على تقنية فنية إستثنائية اشتهرت بها مدرسة تارنوفو للرسم.

source: UNESCO/ERI

伊凡诺沃岩洞教堂

伊凡诺沃岩洞教堂位于保加利亚东北部洛姆河流域伊凡诺沃村一带,由岩洞教堂、小教堂、修道院和洞穴组成。12世纪,第一批隐士开始在这里开挖洞穴和建造教堂。绘于14世纪的壁画向人们展示了塔尔诺沃(Tarnovo)画派艺术家们杰出的艺术表现力。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Скальные церкви у села Иваново

Комплекс, состоящий из болгарских средневековых церквей, часовен и монашеских келий, выдолбленных в скалах на извилине реки Русенский Лом.  Сохранившие здесь фрески XIII-XIV века, выполненные уникальными по составу красками, специалисты относят к величайшим из сокровищ болгарской средневековой живописи. В этих скалах укрывались первые христианские отшельники. Здесь построены храмы XII века.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Iglesias rupestres de Ivanovo

Este conjunto de iglesias, capillas, celdas y monasterios rupestres se fue formando a lo largo del tiempo en el valle del rí­o Russenski Lom, no lejos de la aldea de Ivanovo, al noreste de Bulgaria. Fue en el siglo XII cuando los primeros eremitas excavaron sus celdas e iglesias en la roca. Los frescos, que datan del siglo XIV, atestiguan la técnica excepcional caracterí­stica de la escuela de pintura de Tarnovo.

source: UNESCO/ERI

イヴァノヴォの岩窟教会群

source: NFUAJ

Uit de rots gehouwen kerken van Ivanovo

In de vallei van de Roussenski Lom rivier (in het noordoosten van Bulgarije) ontstond in de buurt van het dorp Ivanovo een complex van uit de rots gehouwen kerken, kapellen, kloosters en cellen. In de 12e eeuw hadden kluizenaars hun cellen en kerken voor het eerst uitgehouwen op deze plek. De fresco's van de Ivanovo kerken – het klooster bezit de mooiste collectie – werden vervaardigd door kunstenaars van de Tarnovo School en gelden als mijlpaal in de christelijke kunst van Zuidoost-Europa. Het Ivanovo klooster raakte snel in vergetelheid en verval tijdens de verovering van het land door de Ottomaanse Turken in 1396.

Source: unesco.nl

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Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo © Klearchos Kapoutsis
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The frescos of the Ivanovo churches reveal an exceptional artistry and a remarkable artistic sensitivity for 14th century painting and Bulgarian medieval art; they are an important achievement in the Christian art of South-Eastern Europe. Posterior to the Khora monastery mosaics (Karia Djami) of 1303 - 10, these frescoes, by their very expressiveness surpass any other historical monuments discovered, characteristic of the Palaeologues style. Neo-classical in spirit and in elements of their subjects, the frescoes represent a departure from the canons of Byzantine iconography. They show close ties with expressive Hellenistic art and a clear preference for the nude, the landscape, an architectural background in a composition, drama, an emotional atmosphere - qualities which combine to make an exceptional masterpiece of the Tarnovo school of painting and monumental art.

The five historical monuments in this group (chapels, churches, etc.), dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, serve as examples that pave the way for the distinctive character development, and mastery in the art of the Second Bulgarian State /1187-1396/. The richness, the variety of the cells, chapels, churches, monastery complexes, the original architectural solutions - all set in a magnificent natural environment - confirm the value of this extraordinary historical grouping.

Criterion (ii): Many churches, chapels, monasteries and cells were cut into the natural rock along the Rusenski Lom river, during the 13-14th centuries. The "Church" frescoes reveal an exceptional artistry and a remarkable artistic sensitivity for 14th century painting and Bulgarian medieval art; they are an important achievement in the Christian art of South-Eastern Europe. Neo-classical in spirit and in elements of their subjects, the frescoes represent a departure from the canons of Byzantine iconography. They show close ties with expressive Hellenistic art and a clear preference for the nude, the landscape, an architectural background in a composition, drama, an emotional atmosphere - qualities which combine to make an exceptional masterpiece.

Criterion (iii): The extensive complexes of monasteries were built between the time of the Second Bulgarian State /1187-1396/ and the conquest of Bulgaria by the Ottoman Empire. The five historical monuments in this group, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, the richness, the variety of the cells, chapels, churches, monastery complexes, the original architectural solutions - all of that set in a magnificent natural environment - confirm the value of this extraordinary historical grouping.

Integrity

The property encompasses within its boundaries all the components necessary to convey its outstanding universal value but the rock massif, where the churches are situated, has serious stability problems. Over the years a continuous programme of research, and scientific, technical and design projects, have focussed on strengthening and stabilising the rock formation. A programme was carried out for the "Investigation, identification, stabilization and waterproofing of the rock massif" for The Church of the Holy Virgin. All of the statistical analyses are based on processing meteorological and instrument data, and studies.

Authenticity

Created in the natural cavities of a karst massif, the authenticity of shape, material and substance of the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo has been preserved. Urgent conservation work has been completed on the valuable 13th and 14th century murals, whilst cleaning, stabilization and presentation of The Church of the Holy Virgin murals has also been carried out. This involved minimal retouching work, and the maximum retention of the original.

In consequence of a rock collapse in the early 20th century, the 13th century ceiling murals from the buried church of St. Archangels, have been rescued and moved to a new substrate. The first stage of work on the 14th century murals of the collapsed St. Todor Church has also been completed.

Protection and management requirements

Through National Legislation the property has been protected, as a 'Reserve' since 1965 (Official Gazette No. 84 of 1965). Management is implemented through the Cultural Heritage Law (Official Gazette No.19 of 2009) and subdelegated legislation. This law regulates the research, studying, protection and promotion of the immovable cultural heritage in Bulgaria, and the development of Conservation and Management plans for its inscribed World Heritage List of immovable cultural properties.

Protection is also afforded by Ordinance No. 17 of the President of the Committee for Culture on Definition of Boundaries and Regimes of Use and Protection of Immovable Cultural Monuments outside Populated Areas (Official Gazette No. 35 of 1979); and The Protected Areas Act (Official Gazette No. 133 of 11 November 1998, as amended and supplemented).

In order to strengthen and stabilize the rock formation, there is a need to pursue the implementation of the conservation measures.

Long Description

In the valley of the Roussenski Lom River, in north-east Bulgaria, a complex of rock-hewn churches, chapels, monasteries and cells developed in the vicinity of the village of Ivanovo. This is where the first hermits had dug out their cells and churches during the 12th century. The 14th-century murals testify to the exceptional skill of the artists of the Tarnovo school of painting.

The period of the history of Bulgaria from the last years of the 12th century, when for the second time the country became independent from Byzantium, until the Ottoman Empire annexation in 1396, is known as the Second Bulgarian Empire. Independence from Byzantium could not be complete until the Bulgarian clergy became dependents of the Patriarch of Costantinopoli. In 1204, the Kaloyan Tsar signed an agreement with the Papacy in order to return as part of the Roman Catholic church. It was not to be a long-lasting agreement. During the reign of Tsar Ivan Ansen II, Bulgaria once again embraced Orthodox Christianity, but with its own Patriarch, not subordinate to Costantinople.

The first Patriarch was the monk Gioacchino, who shared with Ivan Ansen the plan to expand the Bulgarian church. Before taking over the Patriarchal throne he had lived as a hermit in a cave in the river Rusenski Lom valley, not far from the village of Ivanovo. The monk achieved so high a level of sanctity that Tzar Ivan Ansen entrusted to him the construction of a monastery, something which contributed to strengthen his image as a merciful monarch. The convent was built between 1218 and 1235 and had from the outset a rocky character; all its buildings were dug into the limestone cliff gorge of the river and its contributories.

In the years between 1331 and 1371 the monastery, thanks to further new royal donations, acquired the best of its artistic patrimony: the splendid frescoes attributable to the painters of the so-called Tarnovo School.

During the conquest of the country by the Ottoman Turks in 1396, the forgotten monastery of Ivanovo fell quickly into ruins and was abandoned. The solid limestone out of which it was carved and on which frescoes were painted enabled it to resist to the inclemency of the weather. Along the two walls of the Rusenski Lom river gorge there is a labyrinth of cells, of rooms, and above all of churches and chapels dug into the cliff face which were originally completely covered by frescoes, but of which only five are still in good condition.

Bearing in mind the fact that three of these churches go back to the reign of Ivan or immediately afterwards, they constitute remarkable evidence of the revolution in painting during the two centuries of the Second Bulgarian Empire. In the churches of the first period, the human figures are painted in the same realistic style, with oval faces and fleshy lips, and the colours of the clothing are bright. The 14th-century frescoes by contrast are in the classical style of the Palaeologic period.

The five churches and their frescoes are testimony to the Byzantine art influence in Bulgaria. The creation and decoration of these rock-hewn churches is largely attributable to the donations of the Bulgarian Tzars in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC