You need to make an effort to see this one: you either hike for about 1.5 hours on a steep path that starts from Golyamo Belovo Village, or drive for 20-minutes with a 4WD on a dark road that starts from Belovo itself. Whatever the way you reach this 6th century church, you will be rewarded with the picturesque sight of red arches rising over the thick forest that covers this part of the Rhodope mountains.

In its heyday, the basilica was a part of a large monastery and served the inhabitants of a nearby fort, Lefka, that protected a busy crossroad between the Rhodope, the Sofia Plain and the Thracian Plain.

According to legends, the church was destroyed by the Ottomans in the 17th century, during a campaign of forcible Islamisation of local people. Many historians, however, warn that such stories should be read with a big pinch of salt. 

Even when the church fell in ruins, the memory for the sanctity of the place persisted. People continued to come and pray here - a tradition whose latest manifestation is a relatively new chapel erected in the rest area by the Belovska Basilica. 

The early-Christian ruins were discovered in the 19th century. The site was excavated for the first time, with US funding, in 1924, with US funding, by Hungarian archaeologist André Grabar. The Belovska Basilica underwent conservation work in 1994.

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