Shipka Pass (el. 1150 m./3820 ft.) is a scenic mountain pass through the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. During the
Russo-Turkish War in 1877 and 1878, Shipka Pass was the scene of a series of conflicts collectively named the Battle
of Shipka Pass (fought between the Russian Empire, aided by Bulgarian volunteers, and the Ottoman Empire for
control over the vital Shipka Pass during the Russo-Turkish War.
The Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ, better known as the Shipka Memorial Church or Shipka Monastery is a
Bulgarian Orthodox church dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers that died for the liberation of
Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78. Built near the town of Shipka in Stara Planina between 1885 and 1902,
under the direction of architect Alexander Pomerantsev, initially the entire monastery was Russian property, but in
1934 it was granted by the Soviet government of Bulgaria for eternal times
The temple has a central dome surrounded by 4 smaller domes
The church’s exterior is stunning, especially experienced in its
remote and isolated mountain setting, while the interior is
decorated with gilded ornamentation and intricate paintings.
The idea to found the monastery began with the Russian diplomat
Count Ignatiev and Olga Skobeleva, the mother of the Russian hero
from the war - Major General Michael Skobelev.
Funds for construction were donated by the Russian people.
On the sanctuary walls and in the outer galleries 34 marble plaques are
listing the names of officers and volunteers who died during the RussoTurkish war. Overall 18,491 people are memorialized at Shipka
The Church officially opened on the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Shipka Pass, with the names of fallen
soldiers inscribed on walls within and their remains held in stone sarcophagi in the church’s crypt.
There are 12 sarcophagi in the crypt. The bones of nearly 9,000 Russian and Bulgarian soldiers who died
during the war for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman occupation were buried there
Count Ignatiev proposed to dedicate the church “to the Birth of Christ, since
major combats between the Russian and Turkish armies took place... during
the Birth of Christ holiday, near the Shipka village
not to the
but to the
services of the
artisans — all
craftsmen, bricklayers and
The carved gilded main iconostasis made of lime wood was
designed by Alexander Pomerantsev, and its icons, on cypress
boards, were made by craftsmen from the Russian St.
Panteleimon church on Mount Athos; some icons were donations
from Russia. The altar crucifixes, the Gospel, holy vessels, service
books, chandeliers and other church paraphernalia were bought
in Russia thanks to contributions from the Committee and private
On the magnificent
there are 83 built-in
icons, made by monks
located in Mount Athos
By 1902, the
had a home for
the clergy, a
hospital, and a
In the Church there are holy relics of many saints including
the holy relics of Saint Alexander Nevski
The northern aisle of the church is dedicatedto St. Nicholas the
Miracle Worker, the southern aisle, to St. Alexander Nevsky
The temple is architectural masterpiece, with typical Russian
construction details were shaped, four side dome 33 meters in
height, has a central 42 m, with crosses placed over them.
The murals were
created only in the
The painting of the temple is done in two stages, is initiated by
the Russian artist P.Myasoedov professor in 1902 and it ends only
1959 (team led by painter N.Rostovtsev). The murals not only
depict biblical scenes, and canonized by the Orthodox Church,
but also Russian and Bulgarian celebrities, among them images
of the brothers Cyril and Methodius.
Some wonderful frescoes depicting
scenes from Russian history
Under the church has built a crypt. The crypt of the church has
been turned into a bone-house containing 17 marble
sarcophagi arranged in two galleries.
Text and pictures: Internet
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Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu
Megaloschemos II (Bulgarian Orthodox Hymn)