Sveti Nikolay Chapel
Sveti Nikolay (St. Nicholas) Chapel is located on top of Taksim Tepe in Plovdiv, about 70-80 meters west of The Assumption church. It is a chapel to the cathedral church. It is assumed that it was built during the reign of Bulgarian ruler Ivan Alexander around 1355 and that it was dedicated to Saint Nikolay even then.
At the outset of the nineteenth century the chapel was restored with 4300 pennies, granted by the Trustees of The Assumption church. Due to the restrictions imposed by the authorities, the repairs turned out to be poor and the construction of new building became necessary. The current building of the chapel dates back to 1835, when it was built with funds donated by Valko Todorov Chalakov from Plovdiv, who lived very close to the temple. Who the masters who erected the building were, no one knows for sure, but it is assumed that they were of the famous Bratsigovo school.
In its essence, St. Nicholas Chapel is a small, single nave basilica, with one apse and a size of 17.5m /9.80m/6m. It is built of unshaped stone. Only the east altar wall and the apse are from carved stone blocks. Due to the steep and rocky terrain, where the temple is located, its narthex is on the north side, not on the west as in the usual churches building. The apse has five walls. The iconostasis of the chapel is from the old demolished church and that is why it is the oldest iconostasis in Plovdiv. It dates back to 1733 and has an interesting and original old carving. Presumably, it was made by local craftsmen, who were influenced by the carving in the great church of Bachkovo Monastery. The dimensions of the iconostasis are 7.50m to 3.90m. In its upper part it is covered with a carving which is fully gilded.
The church icons were painted by Renaissance painters Zahari Zograf and Dimitar Zograf. The royal icons of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas are the work of Zahari Zograf. There is a relatively small icon of St. Nicholas on the iconostasis, whose author was Hristo Dimitrov, Zahari Zograf’s father.
The temple icon of St. Nicholas was donated to the chapel by Valko’s wife, Rada Chalakova. It is in Russian style, so it is assumed that it was probably brought from Russia. It has gold ornaments. The Metropolitan’s throne is also carved. It is assumed that this was the work of Debar masters. Probably it dates back to XVIII century and is a remnant from the old church. It is 3m high and 80cm wide. The icon of Jesus Christ Great High Priest is painted on the Metropolitan’s throne, dating back to February 26th, 1882. Its author is unknown, but in style it looks like The Assumption of Holy Mother icon, which was painted by A. Gyudzhenov in 1880 and today is kept in the Assumption cathedral church.
When on May 17th, 1841 chief benefactor of the church Valko T. Chalakov died, the parishioners buried him in the nave of St. Nicholas Chapel because of his great contributions to the church. His tombstone is preserved there until this day.