Originally, the church near Perushtitsa had the name of the Virgin, but in time memories faded and the local people started to call it simply the Red Church. It is easy to see why. What has remained of this once glorious structure are massive red-brick walls and arches reaching 14 m in height.
The church was built in the cusp of the 6th Century under Emperor Anastasius and was part of a large-scale construction effort which promoted Christianity, an initiative of the bishops in the nearby Philippopolis, which was the centre of a diocese and had a busy religious life.
The Red Church is a 32 m long and 26 m wide building whose three apses meet under a huge cupola and form a flower shape easily discernible on Google Maps. Exquisite mosaics covered the floors, and marble and murals decorated the walls.
The church was painted at least twice, in the 6th and the 11th centuries, and in spite of the current state of decay of the frescoes, some historians have compared them to those in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia. The believers entered the church through a grand staircase and a massive portico, while non-Christians were baptised in a pink-marble baptistry attached to the main building.