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Antique Buildings

The Bulgarian lands have been populated since high antiquity. There are numerous antique buildings which prove that.

Perperikon

The sacred town of Perperikon is situated in the Eastern Rhodopi Mountains, about 15 km away from the town of Kardzali. It was built 8,000 years before the New Era. There are dozens of archaeological objects from different epochs in the nearby areas. According to research scientists, the sanctuary of Dionysius, described by Herodotus, is located here.

The palace of Perperikon used to be a massive r-shaped building with thick walls. Some of the walls are cut out of natural rocks, where niches for the beams can still be seen. The construction is made with stone blocks, typical for the Megalythic building. About 200 meters of three-meter-wide stone steps lead up to the parade entrance with a well-preserved threshold.

A few meters away from the palace the last excavation works discovered a large sacrificial altar for big animals and human oblations, quite common for that time. Five sarcophagi have been found on the lowest level of the palace, dug into the rock floor. There are some gift-niches next to the sarcophagi. A well-preserved stone pedestal in the western rooms suggests that there was once an altar above it. A crypt with 15 stone sarcophagi has been discovered in the northwest part of the palace.

The Antique Town of Ulpia Escus (Ulpia Oescus)

The majestic ruins of the Roman and Byzantine town of Ulpia Escus are located near the village of Gigen, Pleven Region. They are situated on about 280 dca.

As a result of the excavation works in the area, some quite valuable information was achieved about the lifestyle of the local population, consisting of Thracians, Italians, settlers from Asia Minor and the western Roman provinces. This includes information about the village development, the supporting systems, the street nets, the social and educational buildings, economic life, culture, religion and funeral customs.

The Kastra Martis Stronghold

The Kastra Martis Stronghold is situated about 30 km away from Vidin. Archaeological researches determined that in the first millenium before the New Era there was a small Thracian-Roman village at the same place, before the building of the stronghold.

The stronghold consists of two parts – quadriburgius and a castle. The quadriburgius was raised first – about the end of the 3rd and the dawn of the 4th century. It is a square fortification with a length of 40 m. Powerful round towers rise in its corners, with diameters of 12.5 m. The quadriburgius used to be the stronghold commander’s headquarters. The castle has the shape of an irregular tetragon, defended by 7 poly-angular towers. It spreads on 15.5 dca.

In the middle of the central building of the fortification, there is a patio with a well, covered with big quadrangular bricks. Two-floor premises are situated around the patio. To the north there is a large room which used to have special functions. Possibly, the command staff gathered there, and they used it to keep the war flags and the medals of the army unit camping in the stronghold. Both to the east and to the west of the central building there are 5 massive pylons which carried the construction of the two-floor premises to the stronghold walls, used for stores on the lower floor, and the upper floor for barracks. The towers were three-floors high, connected through wooden ladders. They were covered with roof-tiles. The arch-shaped windows were used for their defense.

The Tsepina Stronghold

The Tsepina Stronghold is located in the north-east corner of the Chepina Valley, 6 km away from the village of Dorkovo. It was built upon a high rocky peak with an altitude of 1136 m. During the Middle Ages it was one of the most famous Rhodopean fortresses. It was included within the confines of Bulgaria in the middle of the 9th century. In 11th century it was conquered by Byzantium, but under the rule of Kaloyan (1197-1207) it went back into the territory of the Bulgarian state.

In 12th-13th century Tzepina was a big Medieval town-fortress. The outer fortress walls spread over an area of 25 dca, and in the highest part a Medieval castle was built on an area of 5 dca. Three churches and four precisely constructed water depositories have been explored within the fortified territory. The two marble altar relieves of the apostles Peter and Pavel were found in one of the churches. They were taken to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, where they are exhibited today. The bases of the fortress walls, both inner and outer, as well as the bases of the churches and the four water depositories, have been restored and attract a great number of tourists.

At the foot of the stronghold there is an exposition with materials from the archaeological excavations and researches. There is also a tourist hut nearby.

The Antique Town of Nicopolis ad Istrum

The remains of the antique town of Nicopolis ad Istrum are situated 3 km away from the village of Nikiup, 20 km to the north of the former Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo.

Nicopolis ad Istrum was founded in 102 by the Emperor Trayan in honor of his victory over the dakhiny. From the beginning of the 2nd century until the middle of the 4th century, the town was the most significant city center in the inside of the Moesia area between the River Danube and Stara Planina. Ruined by the 1st and the 2nd Goth Invasion, the town was restored by the Byzantines in 5th-6th century.

Only one third of the territory, where the ancient town was located, has been explored so far. Intriguing findings have been discovered, belonging to different epochs.

The Belogradchik Stronghold - Kaleto

The Belogradchik Stronghold is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Bulgaria. It was built by the Romans amidst unreachable rocks even before the establishment of the Bulgarian State.

While constructing the stronghold, the Romans used the natural unreachability of the Belogradchik Rocks, so they only built two walls - to the north-east and to the south-west. The other two sides are naturally protected by two enormous rock massifs, 80-100 m tall. The fortress walls were solid, with base width 4-5 m, and height of 12-15 m.

The stronghold consists of three yards with an overall area of 10,211 km, and one separate fortification. Each yard was able to defend itself on its own. There are rifle loop holes constructed on the fortress walls. The stronghold has 15 cannons. There are barracks and stores, an armory, a prison, mills for salt and wheat, four water depositories. There are also two water cisterns carved into the rocks, with depth of about 5 m. They were filled with snow and rain water, then the collected amounts of water were kept as iron rations.

The Antique Stronghold of Kaleto

The antique stronghold is situated in the south-west corner of the town of Montana, at the hill “Kaleto”. During archaeological excavations, scientists discovered a gate with a tower, built in the 3rd-4th century, barracks and other buildings, a basilica and walls of the Roman Ages, houses of the Stone-Copper Age, Slav houses and a sanctuary.

The Krakra Stronghold

The Krakra Stronghold is situated on a small rocky plateau in the south-west part of the town of Pernik. The traces of life found here date back from 5th-4th century B.C. Remains of fortress walls, built with sandstone, confine a poly-angular fortress with an area of 45 dca. The village was first destroyed in the 3rd century B.C. Restored by the Thracians, the stronghold developed active trade connections with the surrounding towns. It was especially active under Roman rule. About the middle of the 6th century the village declined, probably after suffering from Slav invasions. Its greatest development was during the 9th and 10th centuries. Double walls, strengthened with three rectangular towers, were raised upon the ruins of the old stronghold. In the 10th and 11th centuries the Pernik Stronghold played an important part in the defense of the country against the Byzantine invasion. At that time it was governed by Krakra, ruler of another 35 strongholds in the region. In 1189 the fortress was burned again, and its previous glory faded away.

Roman Military Road Karasura

Karasura is located on the southern slopes of the Sredna Gora Mountain, about 50 km to the north-east of Plovdiv. In ancient times it used to be a station on the shortest road between Europe and the Near East. As a “Roman military road” it linked the significant antique cities of Singidunum (Belgrade), Serdika (Sofia) and Adrianopolis (Odrin) with the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire - Constantinople, later Byzantium and today’s Istanbul on the Bosphorus.

The region has been populated since the end of the early Stone Age (about 5,000 B.C.). Thanks to its natural riches - fertile soil, big quantities of mineral water and Mediterranean climate, it offered perfect life conditions. About 20 excavation works have been organized here. Archaeologists managed to discover large parts of the double fortification equipment with walls, towers and gates, split in two parts by a small river. Many cult objects have been discovered - religious relieves, daily objects and tools, etc.

The Thracian Center at Halka Bunar

The Thracian Center at Halka Bunar is situated on the territory of the village of Gorno Belevo, Stara Zagora Region. The results of the archaeological researches, although in an initial stage, put the center among the most significant sights of the Thracian village archaeology studied in Bulgaria at the moment.

A unique ceramics center has been discovered, so far only four furnaces are known, organized in couples around two ante-furnace pits. The basic construction elements of the furnaces are preserved - burning (or mixing) chamber, grate with ventilation openings, providing channel and ante-furnace pit. Each of the four furnaces has its own functional and constructive characteristics. These are the first proofs for the structure of this type of facilities, and for the organization of the ceramics production in an early-Grecian Thracian center.

Exceedingly various findings have been discovered. Some of them are connected with specific crafts or agricultural activities - mill stones, loom weights and a fishing-net, spindle vertebras, iron knives, chisels, oil stons. There are also objects with an explicit religious function - a miniature of a clay axe, a clay “loaf of bread”, “counters” of vessel walls, astragals. A real masterpiece is an exquisite ceramic woman’s head. The vessel fragments with graffiti in Greek are especially important. A great number of animal bones have also been discovered.

The Thracian Tomb in Kazanlak

This is one of the most famous monuments of Thracian culture, included in UNESCO’s list for world natural and cultural heritage. The tomb has a diameter of 2.65 m. and a height of 3.25 m. It was built with bricks, for which scientists assume were first used as building material by the Romans two centuries later. Blocks of stones and clay were used as a fastening material.

The tomb has become world famous for its unique wall paintings, painted with wet fresco and distemper techniques. They cover an area of about 40 square meters and look like an exceptionally beautiful art gallery. The pictures are quite realistic, they show battles, daily scenes, funeral processions…

The tomb dates back from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. It is located in the north-east part of Kazanlak.

The Temple of Kibela

The village is situated on an island in the freshwater lake of Durankulak. During the centuries, the lake was now separated, now connected to the Black Sea. On its territory there used to be a village for about six thousand years (from 5400 B.C. to 1100, when Byzantium conquered the First Bulgarian Kingdom). It was probably abandoned because of the aguish mosquitoes.

Interesting findings have been discovered here - ceramic figures of idols, portraying female bodies; a lot of ceramic vessels; working tools; axes of deer horns… Some of the ornaments are quite intriguing - a necklace with gold and chalcedony beads, a string with gold and malachite beads, an anthropomorphous amulet, a gold wire spiral, probably a head decoration, and so on.

The Temple of Sitalk

Near the village of Starosel, about 20 km away from the town of Hisar, is the largest in Southeastern Europe Thracian king’s complex with a temple-mausoleum. The temple is supposed to have belonged to the Thracian Tsar Sitalk, who lived about 440 B.C.

You can reach the temple through a parade staircase with a monumental corridor, a cult platform and two chambers. The entrance is outlined with plates with plastic and colorful decoration. The inner room is a round dome-shaped chamber with semi-pillars and colored ornaments. The privies connected with the gods in this room.

A king’s funeral has been discovered 30 meters away from the main temple. In the sarcophagus archaeologists have found a massive gold ring-seal with an image of a horse-rider, war armor, arrows, silver, bronze and well-preserved painted ceramic vessels.

Roman terms - the City of Varna

The Roman terms (spas), located in the south-east part of modern Varna, are the largest antique public building found so far in Bulgaria. The comparatively well-preserved walls outline an imposing building, raised on an area of more than 7,000 square meters.

The discovered building is a part of a spa complex of the Roman city Odesos. The architectural style suggests that it was built about the end of the 2nd - the beginning of the 3rd century. The coins found in the drainage confirm the date - the earliest ones were stamped under the rule of Emperor Septimius Sever (193-211), and the latest one is from the reign of Emperor Tacitus (275). This way it was established that the spa used to function by the end of the 3rd century. The historical and archaeological data shows that Odesos was an important economic and cultural center of the Black Sea coast at that time.