Church of St. John the Baptist, the city of Kardzhali
The Church of St. John the Baptist in Kardzhali takes pride in its rich history and unique archaeological finds. It belongs to a former major monastery, considered to have been founded in the 6th – 7th century. During its long history, the main building was generally reconstructed four times as evidenced by the archaeological researches and examinations.
At present, the massive monastic complex is partially preserved – only fragments of two walls, the temple, a chapel, the monastic kitchens and the Episcopal Palace remain now. However, the precious finds certainly excite the history buffs. For example, the glass church-lamp with a silver casing, manufactured in Egypt long before the beginning of flat and float glass production in Europe, arouses huge interest. And it is by far the oldest such artifact yet discovered on the Balkan Peninsula. Nevertheless, one of the five brick tombs found in the temple and its surroundings is probably the most valuable find. It was airtight and guarded the relics of a senior Christian cleric of the late 11th century. Preserved church vestments, such as the one in this grave, have only been discovered in three other places in the world.
The fabric of the epithrahil (the priest's stole) was woven with a gold-wrapped weft and presumably, elaborately decorated in Constantinople.
Many of the finds are on display at the Regional Museum in Kardzhali. The remains of the monastery and the church were declared monuments of culture because of their high artistic and architectural value.