Church of Ss. Peter and Paul and Church of St. Ivan Rilski
St. Peter and Paul Church in Veliko Tarnovo is one of the few medieval churches, kept and working since the beginning of XIII c. to the earthquake in 1913.
The church was built during the reign of tsar Kaloyan. In 1204 he signed a union with the Roman pope Innocent III. According to it the Bulgarian church ran-under the supremacy of Vatican. In return the pope gave to tsar Kaloyan the title “king” and the head of the Bulgarian church – the title “primas”. That’s why the church was dedicated to the most respected apostles in the Roman Catholic Church – Peter and Paul. After 1393 Patriarch Eutimius transferred the relics of the most respected Bulgarian saint – Joan of Rila in the church. The temple is with three naves, with cruciform dome and one apse. It was a part of a monastery complex.
The church was decorated three times. Three images in medallions are kept from the first decoration in XIII c.
The last Bulgarian patriarch Euphtimius served there for two years. Later it was included in the region of the Greek bishop’s residence. The wall paintings were made by an artist who knew very well the Paleologue style and the traditions of the artistic school of Tarnovo. A lot of the images are unique and they haven’t iconographical parallels with wall-paintings, kept in other medieval churches. These wall paintings show the last big success of the artists from the artistic school of Tarnovo.