St. Ivan Rilski Chapel

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Bulgaria in Antarctica
Bulgarian Antarctic Institute
National Centre of Polar Research
St. Kliment Ohridski Base
Lame Dog Hut
Livingston Island Museum
St. Ivan Rilski Chapel
Camp Academia
Tangra 2004/05
Bulgarian toponyms in Antarctica
Antarctic Place-names Commission
Military Geographic Service
The chapel's new building in 2012.
Topographic map of the Bulgarian Base area featuring the chapel's old and new premises.
The old St. Ivan Rilski Chapel, with Balkan Snowfield and Hemus Peak, Bowles Ridge and Burdick Ridge in the background.

The St. Ivan Rilski Chapel (St. John of Rila Chapel, Bulgarian: Параклис Свети Иван Рилски) at the Bulgarian base St. Kliment Ohridski on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands is the first Eastern Orthodox edifice in Antarctica, and the southernmost Eastern Orthodox building of worship in the world (cf. Trinity Church, Antarctica).


The idea for the construction of the chapel named after patron of the Bulgarians, St. Ivan Rilski, is of the 2000 years Christmas foundation. It builds on the desire and with the assistance of the Bulgarian Antarctic scientists. Their research season starts at the beginning of our winter and ends after the coming of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. During this time, the base employs a total of between 12 and 15 people, geologists, biologists, doctors, meteorologists, botanists and others.[1]

The three foundation stones of the 3.5 by 3.5m building were laid on 9 December 2001 by deacon Lyubomir Bratoev,[1] who participated in the tenth Antarctic expedition next year.[2]

The parts of the small chapel with a capacity of three cubic meters and weighing three tons were shipped to the Spanish ship. The completed Chapel was consecrated on 9 February 2003.[3]

The interior of the chapel in 2011.

The Chapel’s bell was donated by Nikola Vasilev, ex-Vice Premier of Bulgaria who worked as a doctor at the Bulgarian base in the 1993/94 season, while the roof cross was donated by the Bulgarian artist Dicho Kapushev. The Chapel features an icon of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom by the Bulgarian artist Georgi Dimov, and an icon of St. Ivan Rilski donated by President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria who visited and lit a candle in the Chapel on 15 January 2005.

St. Ivan Rilski Chapel was provided with new premises in the 2011/12 season.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b The project for the first Eastern Orthodox chapel in Antarctica is ready. Church Gazette. 16–30 April 2002. (in Bulgarian)
  2. ^ Penguins open Bulgaria’s EU bid. Sofia Echo, 30 January 2003.
  3. ^ Consecrating the Bulgarian chapel in Antarctica. Standard News Daily. 9 February 2003. (in Bulgarian)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 62°38′30″S 60°21′47″W / 62.64167°S 60.36306°W / -62.64167; -60.36306