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World Heritage

There are nine sites in Bulgaria, included in UNESCO’s List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The Thracian Tomb in Sveshtari

The Thracian Tomb in Sveshtari dates back from the 3rd century B.C. It reflects the characteristic features of the Thracian religious buildings. Its decoration is extremely intriguing, a unique combination of art and architecture.

There is a funeral chamber, richly decorated with ornaments, as to look like a temple facade. Under the vault arch there are blocks, supported by female statues made of stone. The ruler is portrayed on one side, taking a golden wreath from the hands of a goddess, followed by four women who carry various gifts.

The tomb is located in Northern Bulgaria, near the town of Isperih. Another 26 mounds with different sizes have been discovered in a radius of 2 kilometers. The whole area is announced an archaeological reserve.

The Thracian Tomb in Kazanlak

This is one of the most famous monuments of Thracian culture, included in UNESCO’s List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The tomb has a diameter of 2.65 m. and a height of 3.25 m. It was built with bricks, believed to have been first used as a construction material 2 centuries later by the Romans. The bonding material is blocks of stone and clay.

The tomb became world-famous due to its unique wall paintings, made with wet fresco and distemper techniques. They cover an area of about 40 square meters, and resemble an exclusive art gallery which conquers the visitors. The paintings are quite realistic; they show battles, daily-life scenes, funeral processions…

The tomb dates back from the end of the 4th – the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. It is situated in the north-eastern part of the town of Kazanlak.

The Madara Horseman

This is the only rock relief in Europe that dates back from the early Middle Ages. On a level of 23 meters above the ground, an anonymous sculptor outlined the relief of a magnificent horseman, portrayed in life size. The horseman holds the horse’s reins in his left hand, and his right hand grips a spear, stuck into a lion lying on the ground. A dog is depicted behind the horse, following the rider.

The Madara Horseman was carved into the rock in the early 8th century, about 3 decades after the foundation of the Bulgarian State. Its relief has a symbolic character. It reflects a victory – the Byzantine Empire has finally acknowledged the new Bulgarian country. Three inscriptions in old Greek were carved around the relief. They reflect important political events, connected with the relations between Bulgaria and Byzantium in the 8th-9th centuries.

The Madara Horseman is located near the village of Madara, 14 km away from the town of Shoumen.

The Boyana Church

The Boyana Church is among the most significant monuments of Bulgarian Medieval architecture and church painting. It was built in three stages, the oldest part being constructed in the dawn of the 11th century.

The most intriguing part of this monument is its wall paintings. The frescoes are painted with bright colors, and the images are vital and realistic. 89 scenes are depicted, with 240 human figures. There are portraits of the king and the queen, painted in life size. Most impressive in ways of art performance are the portraits of Tsar Kaloyan and his wife Desislava. They are wearing formal clothes, and Desislava is considered to be the most beautiful female character of the epoch. These are the oldest portraits drawn from life in the whole history of Bulgarian painting. There is a chapel on the second floor, devoted to St. Panteleimon. Tsar Constantine and Queen Irina are depicted with crowns, wearing clothes with golden embroideries. The Tsar is holding a golden scepter.

The Boyana Church is located in Sofia, the Boyana District.

Ivanovo Rock Churches

On both sides of the River Lom there are several Medieval churches, religious cells and chapels. Hermits used to live there from the 3rd to the 4th century. They expanded and shaped the natural hollows in the Karst rocks to respond to their needs. The hollows are from six to ten meters of height, connected through steps, corridors and galleries.

The walls are covered with paintings of scenes from the Bible and compositions with numerous figures. The partially-preserved frescoes testify of the remarkable achievements of the Bulgarian Medieval School of art.

The Ivanovo Rock Churches are situated about 20 km away from the town of Rousse.

The Rila Monastery

The Rila Monastery is the greatest Renaissance monument in Bulgaria. It was founded in the 10th century by followers of the Bulgarian hermit Ivan Rilski. It was thoroughly restored in the 19th century after a devastating fire.

The monastery is an architectural-artistic composition of huge dimensions, result of the work of Renaissance artists, icon-painters, wood-carvers and craftsmen in various artistic spheres. It was painted by the most famous representatives of the Bulgarian Renaissance artistic school. In the yard of the monastery you can see the defensive tower of Krelio, built in the 14th century.

The monastery is still active. Visitors can look around the monastery library, the historical museum and the exposition.

The Old Nessebar

It is a town of millenniums-long history, situated on a peninsula in the Black Sea, linked to the land through a narrow isthmus.

An enormous museum exposes the way of life of the various people who inhabited it. This small island has castle walls back from Thracian times, defensive towers, private and public buildings from the Grecian Period, Medieval churches and Renaissance buildings. They create a unique atmosphere.

The numerous churches, built during the early Byzantine Period (5th and 6th centuries) are quite interesting. The oldest ones are cross-shaped basilicas. There are frescoes, dating back from the 14th to the 18th century, with an extraordinary artistic and architectural value, that show the traditions and mastership of the craftsmen and the icon-painters from those times…

The Old Nessebar is located about 30 km away from the town of Bourgas. The world-famous sea resort Golden Sands is quite nearby.

The Srebarna Reserve

The Srebarna Reserve is situated in the north of Bulgaria, at the mouth of the River Danube, on an area of about 800 hectares. There is a lake there, with a depth of 1.5 m., fed with water from the river and a Karst spring.

There is great variety of animals and flora species in the reserve. You can see about 160 different kinds of birds. One of the four famous curl-headed pelican colonies in Europe inhabits the region. There are also significantly large heron colonies, as well as families of other rare water birds. Srebarna is also a resting place for many migratory birds.

The Srebarna Reserve is situated about 15 km away from the town of Silistra. There is a nature museum and a station for ecological researches in the area.

The Pirin National Park

The park covers an area of about 26,480 hectares. The nature here is incredibly beautiful and varied – high peaks alternate with glacial mountain massifs and lakes. The sharply outlined scenery and the mixture of Central European and Mediterranean climate provide great variety of flora and fauna.

Several trees have been declared to be a natural heritage. Another famous sight is the “Baikusheva” white fir, which is over 1200 years old. There are about 50 glacier lakes, a lot of caves, waterfalls, rocks, majestic abysses and cliffs. The mountains are almost impossible to cross. Several roads lead to the National Park, starting from Bansko, Snadanski, Gotze Delchev and other towns in the region.

In 1962 part of the mountain area was declared to be a national park, called “Vihren” at first, and later on renamed “Pirin”.