Tuesday, 20 November 2018 | News today: 22

Stobi Episcopal Basilica restoration project completes

Restoration work on the baptistery in the Episcopal Basilica in Stobi was completed thanks to a grant from the U. S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

This was the third grant the U. S. fund awarded the archaeological site, and it amounted to USD 89,000. The first grant provided researchers with USD 15,000 to do excavations at the Stobi’s Roman Forum, and the second grant of USD 72,600 went to the restoration of the basilica’s frescoes.

At the closing event on Wednesday, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the Episcopal Basilica in the Old City of Stobi represented the greatest and most significant early Christian architectural complex in Macedonia.

“Together with its quatrefoil baptistery, elaborate mosaics, and decorative stonework,” PM Zaev said, “the Episcopal Basilica is an exceptional cultural heritage that gives us valuable information on the architectural and artistic achievements in these parts of the world.”

“The mosaic in the Episcopal Basilica’s baptistery is the most representative and most recognizable symbol of Stobi and of Macedonia’s cultural heritage,” Zaev added. “Any time we visit this place, it’s nice to give in to our imagination and think of Stobi during that time: a living city, a meeting point of travelers, merchants, and citizens of past European civilizations. The city delighted everyone with the lavish architecture of its amphitheater, the basilica, the palaces of the Roman Imperial administration, the city square, and many others.”

Minister of Culture Asaf Ademi thanked the U. S. for its support, pointing out that the U. S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has invested USD 1,300,000 in Macedonia since 2001.

“This has made possible thirteen cultural heritage conservation and restoration projects,” Minister Ademi said, “all around the country: the conservation of the stoa [public walkway] at Vardarski Rid near Gevgelija; old manuscripts in the Ohrid Cultural Preservation Institute and Museum; the St. Spas church in Skopje; the Turkish Hamm Am Baths in Tetovo; the Kokino megalithic observatory; the Daut Pasha Hammam in Skopje; the frescoes in the Church of Our Lady Perivlepta in Ohrid; the Decorated Mosque in Tetovo; the dormitory of the St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel Monastery in Kuceviste near Skopje, and Zlatko’s Tower in Kratovo.”

U. S. Ambassador Jess Baily said the U. S. was proud of this project, which required a lot of warm days and archaeological work to remove piles of dirt from the mosaics and through restoration have them see the light of day again, while also conserving the Episcopal Basilica and the remainder of the site.

“Many thanks to the team of archaeologists whose hard work contributed to the preservation of this rich cultural heritage,” Ambassador Baily said.

“Your work is important and has a great impact,” he added, “bearing in mind the famous peacock mosaic from the Episcopal Basilica is considered a symbol of Macedonia’s cultural heritage.”

The Stobi archaeological complex includes some of the earliest examples of Christian architecture discovered on the territory of Macedonia. The conservation of the site started in 2013, but it stalled due to lack of funding. In 2016, the project resumed thanks to a grant from the U. S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.