“Dormition of the Mother of God” Cathedral
Georgi Jordanov

“Dormition of the Mother of God” Cathedral


The “Dormition of the Mother of God” Cathedral (translit. “Katedralen Hram Uspenie Bogoroditschno”) or "Holy Dormition of the Theotokos" is the largest church in Varna and the second largest in Bulgaria. Situated in downtown Varna, it is among the symbols of our marine capital. The awe-inspiring Cathedral was built on an impressive scale; the construction of the church brought a lot of enthusiasm and some curious stories. In the years after the liberation of Bulgarian, the Eastern Orthodox residents of the city decided to build an imposing church that would suit their needs.


On August 22, 1880 after a solemn ceremony Prince Alexander I Battenberg laid the foundation stone of the temple. The name chosen for the cathedral “Dormition of the Theotokos”, was in memory of the Russian Empress consort Maria Alexandrovna, a benefactress of Bulgaria and aunt of Knyaz Alexander I Battenberg. Construction began immediately and lasted for six years .  The (cathedral’s) construction was expected to be sponsored by means of voluntary donations but when the funds that were initially collected were laid out, a lottery of 150,000 tickets was run.


The project for the cathedral, modeled after the temple in the Peterhof Palace in Saint Petersburg, initially involved an Odessan architect by the name of Maas but he soon asked for more resources and hereupon the building followed the plan of the municipal architect P. Kupka. The negotiations with Kolyu Ficheto, renowned master-builder from Tarnovo, proved unsuccessful as well. The construction successively involved the local master builder Vasil Ivanov, Yanko Konstandi and Master Gencho Kanev from Tryavna.


"Dormition of the Mother of God" was officially opened on August 30, 1886 with a Divine service. Construction of separate sections and furnishing the interior continued in the following years. The bishop’s throne is the work of Nico Mavrudi and the iconostasis - of Master Ivan Filipov from Debar. The pulpit and proskynetarions (*"oratory" or "place of worship", a monumental icon usually of Christ, the Virgin, or the patron saint of a church, normally placed on the piers separating the parts of a templon in a Byzantine church) are the work of the eminent Bulgarian painter and woodcarver Kuzman Makriev and the overall interior decoration was done under Prof. Nikolay Rostovtsev.


Nowadays, the "Dormition of the Mother of God” Cathedral is a functioning temple and at the same time – a tourist attraction that cannot be overlooked. The city’s tourist information center is at the opposite side of the “Hristo Botev” Blvd, where you can get interesting information about other worth seeing sights and landmarks in the Black sea port city of Varna.


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