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The sunken church of St. Ivan Rilski at Zhrebchevo Dam

The sunken church of St. Ivan Rilski at Zhrebchevo Dam

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Many dams hide the history of former settlements deep under their surface. Most of them are long forgotten. However, this is not the case with the St. Ivan Rilski Church that used to serve the village of Zhrebchevo more than 50 years ago. It just refuses to sink into oblivion. Its stone building sticks out above the waters of the dam that bears the name of the sunken village. Sometimes it emerges in its entirety, sometimes it almost completely sinks into the water. But it refuses to give in under the destructive power of the water. Some see this as a symbol of the strength of the Christian faith. Others believe this phenomenon is due to its solid construction.

The church was built in the end of the 19th century. In 1965 it sinks down along with the entire village of Zhrebchevo as well as two more villages. When their residents left, they took the church bell and carried it to the nearby village of Tvarditsa with the promise that when a resident of the sunken village died, it would announce it with its ring. Part of the temple altar was transported to the villages of Gurkovo and Koprinka.

Today, the 120-year-old temple known as the Sunken Church is a major attraction. Hundreds of people rush towards the shores of the dam to see and photograph it and others even peek in through the openings from their fishing boats. 

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