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The defensive wall is thought to have been 6 to 8 m (20 to 26 ft) tall.
The Elensko area where the church is located (and which was the basis for its name) was known to have been inhabited in antiquity by a Thracian tribe, who around the 6th–5th century BC joined the Bessi state.
Due to strategic errors, the Byzantines suffered a heavy blow in this battle.
Markeli is situated near the Mochuritsa River (a major tributary of the Tundzha), on the western tip of the Hisar highland, which is part of the southeastern Balkan Mountains.
The stronghold's location was selected so as to defend the Rish and Varbitsa mountain passes.
It featured a large apse in the centre, flanked by two smaller apses.
The middle nave was divided into two squares by four identical columns.
The narthex, which lay in the church's western section, accommodated a diaconicon and a prothesis.
A baptisterium was located in the church's southern section.
The towers were almost identical in size and measured around 7.30 by 5.90 m (24.0 by 19.4 ft).
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Archaeologist Petar Mutafchiev conducted excavations in 1913 and published his findings in the article The Elenska Basilica in the vicinity of Pirdop.