Ivanovo Medieval Rock Churches

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Location: Ivanovo, Bulgaria

Official Listing: UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1979

Who Considers it Sacred? Christians (especially Eastern Orthodox)

Significance: From the thirteenth through the fourteenth century, Ivanovo was an important monastery, where many books, miniatures, icons, and murals were made. The murals, painted on Ivanovo’s walls, are thought to be among the best Bulgarian artwork of that age.

The Threat: Weathering; Erosion

Preservation Status: The Ivanovo site is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, and is registered on the World Monument Fund’s first List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. American Express gave a $5 million grant to establish the World Monuments Watch fund, which draws candidates from this list. The fund will give $1 million a year in aid to endangered monuments. The Ivanovo Chapels contain rare examples of Eastern Orthodox wall paintings, which have been restored, but are deteriorating from causes such as moisture, seismic activity, wind-blown sand, and polluted air and water. The WMF grant aims to stop these effects with proper drainage.

For More Information: Site Saver Newsletter Volume II, Number 1, Fall 1996

Credit: Stoyan Chochkov

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