Mosaic on the central facade of the residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Sofia, 1904-1912
The architects P. Momchilov and Y. Milanov designed the residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Sofia between 1904 and 1912. The building is two stories high and has a square inner yard. It houses a library, vestry, chapel, boardroom, the exarch’s office and apartment, a reception hall, and housing for the members of the Holy Synod. The artist Dimitar Gyudzhenov painted the wall paintings in the chapel while the artists Haralampi Tachev and Gospodin Zheliazkov decorated the chapel’s façade with a polychrome glazed technique.
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The smalt mosaic on the central façade of the Residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church by Haralampi Tachev, 1908-1909
The mosaic is located above the three arches of the main entrance. The panel is oval shaped and is framed with a ceramic frieze; it measures 2 x 4 m. It depicts notable figures from the independent Bulgarian Orthodox church, such as the bishops Ilarion Makariopolski, Auxentius of Veles, and Paisius of Plovdiv. They hold a model of a tri-domed church, and Paisius is holding a text that reads “Covenant to the Bulgarian people.” The mosaic was created in Germany and is one of the earliest examples of mosaic decoration on public buildings in Bulgaria after the Liberation. The figures it depicts were thematically chosen to fit the building’s function, the “Bulgarian style” decoration, and the accent on national identity that was typical for art and architectural projects of the time. The mosaic’s golden background enhances the impression of the residence being a sacred space. In accordance with then contemporary tendencies in Bulgarian art, soft nuanced touches as well as light and shade effects stand out in the mosaic’s style.