Bell tower

"Dormition of the Holy Virgin" church 

Assenovgrad, Bulgaria

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In 2018, together with fellow architects George Tsapkov and Stefan Stoyanov, we studied and made a conservation and restoration project for the bell tower at the “St Mary’s Assumption” church complex located near the town of Assenovgrad in Bulgaria.

 

Construction of the religious ensemble began in the early 19th century and the complex is listed as cultural heritage of national importance. The bell tower was built around 1898 and constitutes an important visual accent in the surrounding landscape.

 

The tower’s base level is made of local stone and provides a gateway into the church yard. The main body consists of a wooden structural frame with brick masonry filling and has 4 intermediate wooden floors. The walls along the stairwell feature numerous religious and cenotaphic graffiti, which constitute a memorable telltale of the troubled times at the beginning of the 20th century and are an important repository for the memory of the local community.  The top level houses the bell and the clock mechanism and also provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the region.

 

The church itself had undergone restoration a few years earlier, but no surveying or maintenance of the bell tower had ever been made before. The clock mechanism, dating from the end of the 19th century, had been silent for many years.

 

Our work aimed to stabilize the structure, to remove all non-authentic additions and bring back the original aspect of the bell tower, while putting an emphasis on the importance of the graffiti.

 

Here is a more detailed description of the project.