Sozopol’s Icons

Sozopol is a significant iconic center in the Coastal Strandja. Some of the oldest wooden icons in Bulgaria originate from the Sozopol’s churches. These are the embossed icon of St. George and St. Dimitar,
 10th – 11th century AD, and two-sided icon “Holy Virgin with baby and crucifixion”, 13th century AD. They are kept in the National Church-Archeological Museum and the crypt at the Alexander Nevski Monument, Sofia. From the Sozopol monastery “St. John the Baptist”, on the island of the same name, the icon “Mother of God Hodegetria (bg. Patevoditelka) (the so-called “Black or / Old Virgin”), owned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is preserved.

The medieval Byzantine iconography was the basis of the formation of the local Revival icon painting tradition of the 18th – 19th century AD. In the 19th century AD, a number of painters worked in the city, among them the most famous are Dimitar Zograf, Ivan Popov and Socrates Georgiev, Miltiadi and others. Their works are intended mainly for the iconostasis of the local churches and chapels, but they are also distributed in the Strandja Mountain region. The icons have a characteristic color with an emphasis on detail. Life scenes are extremely circumstantial, with many images and details. In their work, the painters stick to the specifics and iconographic traditions of the Orthodox Russian-Byzantine school. On the earlier icons the inscriptions are in Greek and subsequently in Bulgarian, which is an expression of the dynamic demographic changes in the region in the 19th century AD, related to the consolidation of the Bulgarian national identity.