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Armenian Apostolic Church Surp Astidzadzin (Saint Mary)

Category Temple


The Armenian Apostolic Church Surp Astidzazzin (Saint Mary) is located at 45 K.Arabazan Street, Silistra, Silistra Municipality. It is located 429 km away from the capital Sofia.

There is a bus three times a day leaving from the Sofia Central Bus Station to Silistra, as well as a train three times a day from the Sofia Central Railway Station.



The church dates from 1069 on Armenian Chronology, which is 1620 in the Gregorian calendar.



The Armenian Apostolic Church Surp Austadzazzin (in Bulgarian "Saint Mary") in the town of Silistra is the oldest Armenian church in Bulgaria. When the southern room was repaired, there was a stone with an inscription dug into the ring floor. The inscription read by Agop Giliqian reveals that the church was initially named "Surp Krikor Lousavvoric" (or "St. Gregory the Enlightener"), and the year when the temple was erected was 1069 in the Armenian Chronology, which is 1620 on the Gregorian calendar. Once the floors were concreted, the stone was moved to the northern small room where it has been exposed until nowadays.

The first name of the church was Surp Krikor Luzarovich (in Bulgarian "St. Gregory the Enlightener"). During the exploration of the temple it was revealed that at the beginning it consisted of a main part and two smaller rooms. There is an altar between the two small rooms. (it is not acceptable to leave objects such as flowers, icons, etc on the altar).

The walls of the church are painted with paintings and icons painted with oil paint. The dome is unique with its frescoes, which is rare in Armenian churches. At the top of the southern and northern sides of the central room, there are holes arranged in a specific way to improve its acoustics.[1]

Very few Armenian churches around the world possess domes with a similar fresco. The one in the Silistra temple was restored in 1990 by local artist Karen Markaryan.[2]

The Armenians are among the oldest inhabitants of Silistra. According to historical testimonies in 1016 Dorostol / Silistra's strategist was named Jodjic, which is a name of Armenian-Georgian origin. This curious account of history was published by the local historian Ivan Zanov in his book titled "The Armenians in Silistra - past and present" - the first study about the Armenians living in the Danube town.[3]

The temple is located in a courtyard of about 1800 square meters. In the yard there is a small house designed for the priest's residence, and a former Armenian school - today an Armenian club with a large lounge area and a stage.

There are no archived documents revealing the steps to build the temple. From the collected information from adult Armenians and from observations during repairs, it was concluded that the original part of the temple was built with two small rooms on both sides of the altar. The northern small room is designed for christenings and secluded prayers. There is a niche with a stone channel with a small canal which contains the water in which children are baptized. According to the canons of religion, no human foot should step wherever this water is poured. The southern small room is priestly and it houses a priestly garment and church plate.

The walls are not covered with frescoes and there are pictorial icons painted with oil on them. Many of the icons are made by Silistra artist Bedi Bedrodian. There is nothing artificial on the altar (icons, flowers, etc.). At the top of the northern and southern walls of the central room there are openings. They are arranged in a specific way to create the acoustics of the church. This approach is also rare.

Later an anteroom was built, where burial plates of spiritual faces were built into the floor. There are also such tiles in the yard of the church. The additional part is on two floors, the second one is a balcony for a church choir, and above it the bell tower is erected.

The Church of Surp Assadzazzin has a valuable collection of objects, whose age reaches several centuries. Preserved church plates, priestly robes, bibles from 1686, 1730, and more recent times. A picture catalog of the property of the church with inscriptions in Bulgarian was made. This is necessary because, for the great regret of the Temple Trustees, the possibility of their reading in the Armenian language is diminishing the.

A memorial was built in the churchyard in 2005 to commemorate the victims of the genocide over the Armenian people. The memorial project was made by Diran Apelyan. The black granite plaque is entirely donated by the Armenian community and Armenian friends in the city, country and abroad. Every year on April 24, with bent heads and knees, they renew the oath of their innocent victims, to never forget, to preserve their mother tongue and culture and to  be proud to be Armenian.

In a parcel designated for Armenian funerals, of the old graveyards of Silistra, there is another Armenian temple - a chapel. It was built in 1937 at a time when Southern Dobrudja was within Romania. It was erected with the donations of Kevork Hadji Arthunyan. At the will of the donor, his parents are buried there, and later he himself was buried along them. In the dedication of the unique fresco chapel in 1966, Archbishop Dirjir Mardikian gave it the name Surp Kevork.[4]


The expositions in the Archaeological Museum include prehistoric, antique and medieval times. The Armenian Apostolic Church has a valuable collection of objects, whose age is several centuries.


The church has no entry fees. There is no permanent guide, the church is open every Saturday from 16 pm till 18 pm and every Sunday from 10 am to 11 am. A visit out of this time can be arranged with a prior appointment on 0876801303. There is no requirement for clothing. Not accessible for disabled people, as the entrance is underground. Can be parked on the street, no special parking.

45 Kevork Arabadzhian Street, Silistra




Religious site


[1]<> (23.04.2018)

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[3] <> (23.04.2018)

[4] „Сурп Аствадзадзин“ - Силистра. <<>> (23.04.2018)