Monastery of St. Spas, Breze

By now no historical sources are known providing information about the time of occurrence of this strange ancient monastery, as well as any information about the spiritual life in it. Everything known about the monastery comes from the traditional folklore. According to the legends, the monastery is founded in 11 – 13 c. and in a latest period (not clearly exactly when) was destroyed by the Turks. After the destruction the monastery was not restored.

During the 40s of the 20 century the antiquity was visited by the eminent Bulgarian art critic Assen Vasiliev. He wrote that the locals call the monastery church „St. John Desolate“ because the place was left long time ago. In the time of this visit the scientist found in the ruins of the church two votive cross dedicated to St. Petka and suggests that the patron of the temple could be this saint. Very interesting is the fact that even now in the church stands a votive cross from 1894 dedicated to St. Spas (Ascension). Probably because of this nowadays the ancient monastery is known as „St. Spas“. It is not excluded the possibility, however, this cross to be brought from another location and to be put at the place of the crosses seen by Asen Vasilev. These crosses no longer exist.

Nowadays from the former monastery are survived only the ruins of the monastery church (now overgrown with vegetation). Around it can be seen stone destructions – probably remnants of the destroyed monastery buildings.

Architecturally the church building is a one-nave with a narthex to the west and with dimensions 14.30 x 5.80 m; wall thickness – 0.85 m. Today are preserved the eastern wall with the apse, the northern and western wall (which reaches a height over 3 meters) and the partition wall between the nave and the narthex. The south wall had been completely destroyed but later overbuilt. The entrance to the narthex is from the south. The church had had a semi-cylindrical vault. The construction is by stones and mortar without bricks and the front side of the walls are well smoothed. It can be seen that at some places of the walls were used beams. In the northern wall of the nave there is a niche with a semicircular arch and one more next to it with a square form. Such a small niches are situated also in the narthex – one in the western and one in the northern wall.

The interior of the church was covered with frescoes. Today they are completely destroyed – only few details are left on different parts of the walls. In the 40s A. Vasiliev saw mural fragments „in the niche of the apse, where are visible parts of robes with checkered black and white squares. On the preserved parts of the walls can be seen light red, dark red and dark blue colors. In the narthex no traces of frescoes, there are only remnants of ocher.“ These fragments are now completely wiped out.

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