Guiding the construction society round Bulgaria
It was amazing experience to lead the FIEC construction brotherhood around Sofia and Plovdiv and tell them about the masterpieces of architecture of the two ancient cities. Not that you can surprise them. However, they are builders – engineers, designers, constructors, architects from all over Europe, people who studied the theory and mastered the practice of the construction business; managers from cities that shine with world construction glory… no matter whether it is Paris, London, Prague, Budapest, Brussels, Berlin or Amsterdam.
The attitude of these people involved for a couple of days in the FIEC cause was amazing when they stood before the Rotunda behind the Presidency and when they went inside. The frescoes somewhere from the 10 c. left dazzling impression and especially the unique image of the head of an angel painted below the dome. It is probably if not the only one but the most influential work which gives an idea of the high craftsmanship of the Bulgarian school of art from the Golden Age of the First Bulgarian Empire. Some experts think not without reason that it exceeds the models of the much late Boyana Church and even the Italian Renaissance. In this were convinced our new friends Francisca Bayer, Eline Schloitser and Anneliese Hubert who listened very attentively to the explanations of our guide who led the group of German-speaking guests. We can add only that in the Rotunda for some time were kept the holy relics of the patron of Bulgaria – Saint Ivan Rilski.
The City Garden was a small oasis in that hottest June day and beginning of a pleasant architectural surprise for the guests called National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”. The cameras of Jan Vardenaar and Ricardo Gomez captured every detail of the impressive building of Melpomene. The guests learned details – the building was built after the design of Viennese architects Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner, it was completed in late 1906 and was opened for performances on 3 January 1907. In 1923 during a performance a fire burst that caused great damage. The theatre was restored completely in 1929 under the design of German architect Martin Dulfer and Bulgarian engineer Kiril Chaparov.
In 2007 was made repair of the facades, roof, sculptures and other parts of the theatre. In painting the facades was used paint containing rubber which increases its resistance to weathering. The golden decorations on the façade were covered with new sheets of gold foil. All that was curious for the European builders, they were interested in the details and asked questions…
Along the Russian Church the way leads to the monument temple “Alexander Nevski”. Bodil Jonathan Brun and Michel Bureau were firm that “this is the pearl in the crown of your capital”. We add that the church was raised with people’s donations. The foundation stone was laid in great solemnity on 3 March 1882. The church was designed by Russian architect Prof. Alexander Pomerantsev. The construction began in 1904 and was completed in 1912.
A fast bus marathon through Sofia congested streets and here we are in front of the Boyana Church “St. Nikola and St. Panteleimon”. This medieval monastery is one of the cultural symbols of Bulgaria and is included in 1979 as a cultural monument in the List of World Heritage by UNESCO. Here in 1854 Victor Grigorovich opened the Boyana screed of Bulgarian kings and Boyana Palimpsest – impressive monuments of the Bulgarian Middle Ages.
Our FIEC friends were impressed. Moreover, as Halldor Ragnerson said “this place radiates exceptional inner glow, it is unearthly as a feeling...” We complement for our guests that the oldest construction period is from the late 10 c. and the early 11 c. The façade plastics of multi-stage arched niches and arches at apertures are supplemented by the so-called wolf teeth by placed ceramic masonry bodies at vaults. These skilful techniques were applied in the Old Bulgarian churches in Turnovo, Ohrid and Costur. The church was expanded in 13 c. with its major part during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom by Sebastocrator Kaloyan.
Impressed by the history and knowledge of our guides, the guests stopped for an hour or two in one of the iconic places at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain “Vodenitsata”. National cuisine, national folklore, mountain freshness… What else?
What else? Plovdiv, of course. On the next day the old city welcomed the FIEC guests with the whole beauty of architectural reserve in which however people live... The winding along the steep slopes of the three hills streets surprisingly reveal incomparable views; many churches were solidly built of stone and arched, bells ring. The guests are impressed. Here we meet the General Director of FIEC Ulrich Paetzold; we talk with Sebastian Richer and Katherine Lawrence. They are practically interested in everything, even in the fact that some of the houses built in the Revival have wooden framed structure with a filling of unbaked bricks ... Naturally, all shoot the multicolor painted exterior and interior frescoes, the wood-carved suns on the ceilings, the deep cupboards with ornamental doors, the stair railings, the marble basins and files which are acknowledged masterpieces of construction and icon-painting.
Certainly, what is to try to know better Plovdiv and not visit the Ancient Theatre – the highest achievement in the field of restoration of the monuments of Antiquity in Bulgaria. It was built at the beginning of the 2nd c. during the reign of Roman Emperor Trayan. The theatre is located in the natural saddle between Dzhambaz tepe and Taxim tepe.
At the end of this unforgettable two-day meeting with representatives of European construction brotherhood we went to... “Na megdana”. Plovdiv citizens pleasantly surprised the guests with authentic folklore – the guests enjoyed the lively rhythms for the last time. Unfortunately, as Christina Matos and Han Bot-Botman said “Time is money and our money – these are the buildings of Europe. And they expect us.”
We parted. For these two days, regardless of nationality, regardless of the languages spoken, these people from all over Europe mastered the language of friendship, of consensus.
Two days together – people of European construction industry!