Chapel St. John
Our favorite places are the ones that we discover by accident, without specific expectations or preliminary plans. At first glance they look similar to a dream holiday destination. They don’t collect crowds of visitors and attract enthusiastic groups of foreigners. I doubt you will find detailed information about them in the tourist guides of Bulgaria and tourist guides would hardly have sent you on vacation right there. These places don’t advertise on billboards, neither of the colored covers of women’s magazines under the big titles like: “Ten places to visit by the end of your life,” “Top destinations for summer” or “Ideal places for a wedding”.
Maybe it is the lack of tourists that was able to save the chapel “St. John Summer” /Sveti Joan Letni/ at Pchelina dam (also known as Lobosh) over the centuries. However, this is one of the places for which the local people love to tell stories. Really worth to see it, at least for a day.
There are many submerged villages in Bulgaria at the time of socialism. At that time the dams have stood over the settlements. Literally and metaphorically. Only one of these submerged villages, however, has a chapel for more than 600 years, which stands as a sepulchral cross on the cliff above it.
Legend has it that St. John’s Chapel Summer is build in the year 1350. The same is written on a modern stone on the hill. The door is not locked so that anyone can enter and light a candle.
The inside is rather sad. How old are the murals in the temple – at least from the 16th century. They are old. None the less, however, remains of them. The eyes of the Virgin are carved. And even during the socialism the creative hand of known and faceless graffiti artists caused a contemporary layer of frescoes: “Gosho of Pernik – 1983” “Pero – 12.08.1963” and others…
From the height of the chapel is revealing a shocking Pchelina dam /the name of the old village/ view. There are rocks on the edge where a person can sit all day imagineing the submurged village Pchelina in the 1970s, which lies on the bottom of the dam. The houses were destroyed and people displaced around the neighbouring villages and Radomir town. The name of the village was not removed.
People come here, but it is still not so popular turist destination. As commented by a man from our company, this is one of the most photographed chapels and for good reason.
How to get to the chapel of Saint John – Summer – follow the road Sofia-Kyustendil and after going through the village of Radomir you will go through Priboi village. Pass by it and shortly thereafter there is a turn-off to the right towards Pocarnenci village. In the centre of the village there is a store, immediately after that collapse tightly on the left. From here, drive straight ahead, while the asphalt path becomes “black”. There are several places with spurs – always follow the main road. You will pass through several neighborhoods. Finally, you will see the dam where the road deviates to the left for the chapel. The chapel can be seen from a distance, the height of the elevation, so you’ll have no problem to reach it. From the center of Pocarnenci village to the chapel there are around 5 km away.
Photo credit goes to – Ivan Mishev