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Belyova Church Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The oldest Christian monument in the region of Samokov is the Belyova Church Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is situated between the town of Samokov and the resort of Borovets. No one knows when the church was built but the woman jewelry dated to 12-13 century found here prove that the church is quite old. Furthermore, archaeologists found evidence of monks buried in the necropolis near the church from the end of 11 – early 12 century. Other findings also show that the Belyova Church existed during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The legend tells the temple was once a small private church of the local lord of the manor Belyo, whom the church was named after. Gradually it was expanded and the old frescos were replaced by a newer coat. Local people tell that the church was dug into the ground in 15 century so that it was protected from the Turks’ ravages. In 1869 the prominent master Nikola Obrazopisov started renovating the church. He wall-painted the icon of St. Simeon of Samokov. Simeon Popovich, as the saint was born, became Metropolitan of Samokov in 1734. Highly educated, the Bulgarian bishop lead the Christian people against the Ottomans. He was captured in July 1337, tortured, and hung on August 21, 1737 is Sofia. The pasha forbade the Christians to bury him in Sofia. The relics of the Saint were found during archaeological excavations in the Belyova Church in 1995.

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