Gela - Family Hotel

The Byzantine Basilica

September 27, 2023 /

The Byzantine Basilica located in the village of Gela is an early Christian religious complex situated in the Manastira area, close to the old church of the Holy Trinity. It is part of the highest mountain religious complex in Southeast Europe, with an altitude of 1485 meters, and was built during the Christianization of the Thracians, specifically the Bessi tribe. The basilica was destroyed during one of the invasions of the Slavs and Avars in the second half of the 6th century AD.

The temple was the largest and most ornate in the Central Rhodope Mountains, measuring 30 by 15 metres. A portico was located in front of the southern facade, providing access to the interior of the temple and the baptistery in the southeast corner. During important church events, adjacent parts of the northern side of the building were also used. The walls of the basilica were constructed of stone and bricks, and the floors were covered with round ceramic tiles with a diameter of 60 cm. The temple was well-lit with glazed windows, as evidenced by the dozens of glass fragments found by archaeologists.

Another temple from medieval period was discovered under the foundations of the modern church of the Holy Trinity, along with household buildings and an ancient cemetery. The site of the basilica is easily accessible via a well-marked path, and a detailed information board is available on site. The excavation site is approximately 20 minutes’ walk from the hotel.