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The Holy Trinity Church

The Holy Trinity Church and especially its tall belfry have become a symbol of Bansko as one of the most attractive mountain resorts, successfully combining the charm of its rich historical past and its picturesque location at the foot of the mighty Pirin Mountain with the most modern facilities for recreation – a wide choice of reputable hotels for all tastes and budgets, one of the best ski zone in South-East Europe

The Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity was built in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival. Its inauguration was made in 1835. Initiators and main church-donors were several well-to-do and intelligent local people, among who outstands the name of Lazar Todorov German. Grandpa Lazko, as he was called by his fellow-townsmen, was a rich tradesman, whose trading convoys traveled all around the Ottoman Empire. At that time he was also a mayor of the town. During this period Bansko was a small town with three main quarters, each of them with about 100 households. Lazar Todorov German was a very influential person. He had two brothers. One of them - Michael German (Germanovich) - was a high-standing diplomat at the court of the Serbian royal prince. The other – Ivan German – was a rich banker in Dobrovnik and Venice.

For the site of the church was chosen a plot of land in the town centre, donated by Lazar German and several other patriotic citizens of Bansko. The construction works could not start before a special permission from the sultan of the Ottoman Empire was received. As the period was before the reforms proclaimed by the Ottoman government and promising equal rights to all citizens of the empire, no matter whether they were Muslims or Christians, a new church could be built only on the site of an older one. But the creative local people found a solution of this problem. They secretly dug into the ground on the chosen place a cross and an icon and after that pretended they found these objects by chance, spreading the rumour that on this exact place an ancient church existed many centuries ago. In spite of all these efforts a lot of golden coins had to be spent to receive the special sultan's permission for the building of the church too. Lazar German also used his close relation with the local pasha - the Ottoman governor of the region. Eventually the sultan's permission was received in 1833.

The construction works started right away. As church-donors participated almost all citizens of the mountain town, the well-to-do people and the pilgrims with more and the rest with whatever could give. Almost all men capable of working took part in the construction of the church. As the Ottoman government did not permit the church to be bigger than the local mosque, the building foundations were secretly enlarged during the nights by the patriotic Bulgarians. But soon the donated money was over. Lazar German used again his relations with the regional Ottoman government and took money from Altan Bey - a rich Turkish nobleman from the nearby town of Nevrokop (today named Gotze Delchev). But when Attan Bey understood what his money was used for, he called Lazar German and put him into jail, where this patriotic Bulgarian died soon after that. Lazar German could not see the greatest deed of his life completed, but he did enough to remain in the memory of his fellow-townsmen and all Bulgarians even until present day.

The Holy Trinity Church was finally completed and inaugurated in 1835. In the years after that it was gradually frescoed on its interior walls and additionally decorated with new icons. In 1850 the construction of the belfry began. The money for it was also donated by the locals. Veleganovi brothers donated the bells.

The architectural plan of the church is a three-nave basilica or more exactly a pseudo-basilica with 44 m length, 22 m width and 12 m height. The walls are 1.1 m thick and entirely constructed of local ashlar, welded together by mortar. Large wooden beams of centuries old white fir (typical for the region) are used in the foundation and for leveling the walls. Part of the church is sunken under the ground level in order to look smaller from the outside and Turks can not get an idea about its real size. The altar piece is set within a skillfully constructed and decorated apse in the form of the half of a 18-angle prism with a remarkable stone cornice on the exterior. The roof is hold in the interior of the church by 12 massive wooden columns of white fir, symbolizing the 12 apostles.

An icon of the Holy Trinity is frescoed on the exterior of the wall above the main entrance of the church. There is a cross under it, flanked on its two sides by half-moons. The local people explain that exactly these two half-moons saved the church from demolition later. The Turks saw the main symbol of Islam in them and spare the church.

The frescoes inside the church were painted after 1835. Initially there were only friezes of decorative ornaments around the windows, probably created by the icon-painter Velyan Ognev.

The courtyard of the church is surrounded by a 4 m high stone wall to hide the temple from impious eyes.

The construction of the belfry started 15 years after the inauguration of the church, that is in 1850. The bell tower was built under the lead of master Gligor Doyuv, known among the locals as Gligata. The belfry has a rectangular form with walls made of large cut stone blocks, held together by mortar. The ground floor has a small fireproof room, which served as a monstrance of the church. Four copper bells hang from the top of the belfry. They arranged according to their tonality. The bells were worked in Plovdiv by the skillful masters bell- moulders Veleganovi brothers, who were born in Bansko. The brothers created these bells with great love, adding silver to the copper to make their ringing sound more clear and resonant.

The belfry has an old clock with a weight of almost 500 kg, which works fluently even until present day. It is moved by a complicated mechanism of large iron cogwheels and stone weights. The clock was created by the local clock master Todor Hadzhi Radonov, who had also worked out the clocks of the renaissance clock towers in Blagoevgrad, Petrich, Zografski Monastery and even Istanbul.

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