Sandanski, Bulgaria

Bolyar house - Melnik

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In the eastern part of the town right near the center is the best preserved Byzantine house in the Balkans. It is believed that the house was built as a residence of Despot Alexius Slav in the first half of the XIII century, when the town has been a thriving cultural center and capital of the principality of Despot Alexius Slav.  As part of the Despot Slav fortress, the Bolyar house held important strategic position in the first level of defense of the fortress. Over the years, the house has been rebuilt several times. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was the most richly furnished building in Melnik and the area. The courtyard was paved with marble slabs and in it were built fountains, marble statues, halls and rooms had mosaic floors, frescoes, stained glass windows. The site is of national importance.