St. Nikola and St. Pantaleymon Boyana Church
A small cross dome building appeared at the end of the 10th or at the beginning of the next century just at the north foot of Vitosha near the river, which leaves the mountain still foamy after the waterfall in the heights. It is 5.80/5.60 and has a conch. The built – in columns form an inner cross, whose walls are covered with murals. The facade is decorated with vaulted niches and arches, which are filled with “wolf teeth” with ceramic masonry bodies in the vaults at the entrance like the older Bulgarian temples in Tarnovo, Ohrid and Kostur.
In 1259 Sredec’s sevastocrator Kaloyan ordered a new two – storey building – 5.70/6.10 to be erected tightly to the west façade of the old church. He devoted the basement to St. Nikola and the floor above was formed as a cross dome chapel devoted to St. Pantaleymon. This defines the temple to a type of two – storey church – tombs. Downstairs (the crypt) is covered with semi – cylindered vault with two niches at the north and the south wall, and upstairs (assigned for a family chapel) – repeats the architectural type of the initial church.
Typical is the facade decoration where except the plastic of vaulted niches and arches at the entrances, here is applied the so – called “picturesque style” – a mixed masonry with white stone and red bricks, along with plastic decoration of built – in colorful ceramic glazed “cups” and rosettes, typical for Bulgarian temples in Tarnovo, Nessebur and Ohrid. Fragments of ancient, marble architectural elements are built in the medieval wall. St. Pantaleymon, the patron of the temple, is depicted in the shallow vaulted niche above the entrance and in the narrow, high and shallow niche to the north three picturesque layers have survived, above which the last drawn scene of Baptism of Christcan be seen.
The researches of the temple “St. Nikola and St. Pantaleymon” think that it belongs to the out – of – town residency of the governor of Sredets.
“It was erected from the base and was created the glorious temple of Christos’s hierarch St. Nikola and the glorious Christos’s martyr St. Pantaleymon with cares and great love of Kaloyan, a sevastocrator, a tsar’s cousinand a grandson of St. Stephan, a Serbian king. It was painted in the Bulgarian kingdom at the time pious tsar Konstantin Asen”, says the new Bulgarian donor inscription near the images of tsar Kaloyan and his wife Desislava. The restored and bigger church is inscribed everywhere ordered by the family.
The order of sevastocrator is fulfilled by Bulgarian painterswho stick to the style of the capital chool of Tarnovo. The time has preserved their hard work and today this is the only monument which reveals both the “palace” art of Tarnovo from 13th century and the Paleologus Renaissance of 13th– 14thcentury spread in Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. The images of Kaloyan and Desislava marked with the inscription “sevastocrator” and “donor” for him and “sevastocratess” and “donoress” for her, as well as Konstantin Tih’sand Maria’s images marked like “tsar” and “queen” on the north wall of the temple, are presented with real features and are the first portraits of the Bulgarian painting, typical with clear individuality. 240 figures are drawn in scenes or separately in the second painting layer above the original one. The saints, among which one of the earliest images of Yoan of Rila stands out, are individualized with faces of real people looking sometimes with a smile, sometimes with an irony, sometimes with sadness.
In the middle of the 19th century the inhabitants of the village of Boyana restored the church St. Nikola and St. Pantaleymon with their means, added a two – storey hall and they re-built and decorated the family chapel in it.
In 1854 Viktor Grigorovich discovered in the temple the Boyanabeadrollof the Bulgarian tsars and the Boyana palimpsest, which are remarkable monuments of Bulgarian Middle Ages.
After the Liberation of Bulgaria the local people want to build a new and bigger church on the same spot. The Bulgarian queen Eleonora at that time (the second wife of Ferdinand) saves the old temple and finds them a new terrain.
After her death in September 1917 the queen is buried near the south part of Kaloyan’s temple.
In his turn, from the large yard of the historical church in 1906 , Ferdinand still a prince, makes a lovely small park and plants dozens of valuable trees, among which several not typical for Bulgaria North – American redwoods.
From the beginning of the 20th century moisture, salts and contaminations cover dangerously the valuable murals. The director of the National museum – professor Bogdan Filov, orders the Australian painter – Joseph Bala to restore them in 1912.
In 1914-1915 Marin Georgiev finished the work of the Australian painter again in order of the museum.
In 1934 the restoration was necessary once again and it was given to prof. Kiril Tsonev.
In 1944 Karl Jordanov cleaned the murals again.
In 1954 the historical temple was closed for worships and in 1977 for visits as well.
In 1976 the National Institute for the monuments of culture started conservation and supportive works, which lasted 22 years under the leadership of Lozinka Kojnova-Arnaudova. A roof construction was made for the isolation of moisture and anti – earthquake equipment was built. The methods and means which are applied by the specialists lead to sharp disputes between Bulgarian and foreign specialists. A committee of experts stated that a wrong technology was used and the Ministry of culture stopped its actions in the temple.
Meanwhile, in 1979, Boyana church was included in the list of World Cultural Heritage with the number of 42 as a monument under the protection of UNESCO.
In 1999 the temple was opened for visitors again.
In 2004 the church became a branch of the National Historical Museum.
Salts penetrated again on different spots on the restoration images and in March 2006 a new team started work and finished the whole restoration of the murals at the end of November. The amount of money for the restoration along with the necessary architectural repair work cost 165 000 leva, collected by donors, whose names are carved on a plate of black marble, situated on the right side of the entrance of the temple.
Boyana church is restored in the best way to the original architectural type. The processes of conservation and restoration of the murals can be seen in the permanent exhibition. The museum is open for visitors every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a special regime of stay and tour in the church.