Byzantine Basilica

The Early-Byzantine basilica in the village of Gella is already open for tourist visits. It is in the Manastira neighbourhood near the old St. Trinity church. The basilica is a part of a big religious complex which is the one at the highest sea level in Southeast Europe – 1485 m above sea level. The complex was built in connection with the Christianization of the Thracians, to be more precise – the Bessi tribe, who used to inhabit these places. The basilica was burnt down probably in the second half of the VI century during one of the Slavs and Avars invasions.

The church used to be the biggest ornate temple in the Sredni Rhodope Mountains with 30 m by 14.80 m size of the main building. In front of the southern façade there used to be a portico with a shaped entrance under it leading to the interior of the church and an approach to the baptismal room in the south-east corner. The adjoining parts on the north side of the building were also used for masses and other important church events. The basilica walls were made of stone and bricks, the floors were covered with round ceramic tiles with a diameter of 60 cm. The church used to be well lit with glazed windows, witnessed by the numerous glass pieces found by archaeologists. The scientists who have researched the site have information about the remains of another medieval temple, situated under the foundations of the contemporary St. Trinity Church. Residential buildings and an ancient graveyard have also been found there.

There is a well-blazed road leading to the basilica and  a detailed information board on the spot. If you leave your car in the car-park in front of the hotel, you only have to follow the guiding signs and you will be at the excavations site in about 20 min.

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