Gods, Tombs, Treasures, Castles and Legends of Old Bulgaria
Castles in Bulgaria
An interesting fact about Bulgarian old architecture is that the castles didn’t exist by themselves. They were always included within a stronghold, surrounded by tall walls and defended by watch towers. The territory of these strongholds was growing through the years and they became towns of various sizes and shapes.
Tsarevets was the main fortress and the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces. It was the most secure Bulgarian castle, as well as the cultural center of the Kingdom. Nowadays it is a symbol of Bulgaria.
Baba Vida is a medieval fortress, located along the Danube river, used as a main defensive installation in northwest Bulgaria during the Middle Ages. Baba Vida is said to be the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country and it is a main tourist attraction.
Belogradchik fortress The Belogradchik Fortress is an ancient fortress in northwestern Bulgaria. Together with the Belogradchik Rocks, it draws the main flow of tourists into the region. During the 14 th century, the Belogradchik Fortress became one of the most important fortresses in the region, second only to the Baba Vida fortress.
Pliska fortress Pliska was the capital and main fortress of the First Bulgarian Kingdom between 681 -893 AD. It was built right after the foundation of Bulgaria. The complex was located south of the river Danube on over 23 km² and it had a big and a small palace, a basilica and a citadel.
Preslav fortress Preslav was the main fortress and the second capital of the First Bulgarian Kingdom from 893 to 970. It was the economic, religious, military, and cultural center of Bulgaria. The Preslav fortress was full of magnificent castles, churches and monasteries.
Asen’s fortress Asen's Fortress is a medieval fortress in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains. The fortress gained importance in the Middle Ages. The best preserved and most notable feature of Asen's Fortress is the Church of the Holy Mother of God from the 12 th-13 th century.
Ovech fortress Ovech is a stone fortress located in northeast Bulgaria. The golden years of Ovech were in the period of 12 th– 14 th century. A 150 m-long bridge structure is built in front of it connecting Ovech with the Tabiite Plateau.
Cherven fortress The fortress of Cherven was one of the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary military, administrative, economic and cultural centers between the 12 th and the 14 th century. The fortress is located in north Bulgaria and it is a national archaeological reserve and a tourist attraction.
Treasures in Bulgaria
Varna Necropolis The Varna Necropolis is a burial site in Varna, Bulgaria, internationally considered as one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory. The oldest golden treasure in the world, dating back from 4, 600 BC to 4, 200 BC, was discovered at this site.
Panagyurishte Treasure The Panagyurishte Treasure is a Thracian treasure excavated by accident in 1949. It consists of a phiale, an amphora and seven rhytons with total weight of about 6 kg of 24 -karat gold. It is dated from the 4 th-3 rd century BC. The treasure has been displayed at various museums around the world.
Valchitran Treasure The Golden Valchitran Treasure was found in 1925 in Northern Bulgaria. It consists of 13 vessels with cult function, and total weight of 12. 5 kg. The scientists dated the treasure back to 1300 BC, at the time of the Thracians.
Rogozen Treasure The Rogozen Thracian Treasure consists of 165 silver vessels with a total weight of more than 20 kg. Multiple mythological scenes are presented on the vessels. It is believed that the treasure dates back to the 4 th century BC.
Lukovit Treasure The Lukovit Thracian Treasure was found in 1953. About 200 objects were collected in a large, ritually buried ceramic vessel. Those were vessels and elements of horse accessories made of silver, silver with golden decorations and iron. The treasure is dated from the 4 th century BC.
Borovo Treasure A golden treasure consisting of five vessels – a silver plate with golden decorations, a silver jug with Dionysus and three rhytons - was found in 1974 near Borovo, Northern Bulgaria. The Thracian treasure dates back to the 4 th century BC.
Tombs in Bulgaria
Thracian tomb of Kazanlak The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a tomb with remarkable frescoes. The monument dates back to the 4 th century BC and it is protected by UNESCO. The tomb is situated near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis in a region where more than a thousand tombs of kings and members of the Thracian aristocracy can be found.
Thracian tomb of Sveshtari The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is a 3 rd century BC tomb, situated in the northeast of Bulgaria. The tomb's architectural decor is considered to be unique. The murals, the decorations and the ten female figures carved on the walls of the central chamber are significant.
Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo The Aleksandrovo tomb is a Thracian tomb excavated in Southeastern Bulgaria, dated back to the 4 th century BC. Both the antechamber and main chamber are decorated with well-preserved frescoes. The wall paintings show the change in their appearance due to the Greek influence.
The tomb of Seuthes III The Tomb of Seuthes III is located in the Golyama Kosmatka Mound in Central Bulgaria. It was built in the 5 th Century BC. The tomb has an impressive facade, an unusual 13 meter long entry corridor and three consecutive spacious rooms. The King of the Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace, Seuthes III, was buried inside together with his horse.
Former religion in Bulgaria
Religion of the Thracians were a group of Indo. European tribes inhabiting a large area in Southeastern Europe around the 5 th century BC. Their religion was polytheistic. Thracians developed cult of the forces of the Nature. They believed in the immortality of the soul and built solid tombs around the Balkans. They worshipped some of the Greek gods but also the specific Thracian horseman.
Gods of the Thracians Thracian Horseman was the main Thracian god. Bassareus was the god of grape harvest, winemaking and wine and ritual madness. Bendis was the Thracian goddess of the moon and hunt. Derzelas was the god of abundance and the underworld, health and human spirit's vitality.
Religion of the Slavs were tribes which moved from Eastern Europe to the Balkans around the 6 th century AD. Their religion was a pagan polytheistic religion. It inherited the ancient belief system of the great Indo-Europeans and it preserved many similarities such as the belief in life after death, the cult of death and the cult of the ancestors.
Gods of the Slavs Perun was the highest god of the Slavic pantheon and the god of thunder and lightning. Dazhdbog was the god of fertility, abundance and the Sun. Svarog was the Slavic god of fire and blacksmithing. Lada was the goddess of harmony, joy, youth, love and beauty.
Religion of the Proto-Bulgarians were a group of nomadic tribes coming from Central Asia which penetrated in Europe in the 4 th century AD. Proto-Bulgarians believed in totemism and sacrifice. They had a specific calendar based on the moon’s cycle. Their religion was a pagan religion but with the strong presence of the main god Tangra. Other gods were worshipped as well.
Gods of the Proto-Bulgarians It is still arguable if the Proto-Bulgarians had a monotheistic or a polytheistic religion, as they mostly worshipped only one god – Tangra. Although, they believed in some other gods and great powers. Tangra was the main Proto-Bulgarian god. The mother-goddess was Umai.
Legends of Bulgaria
Legend of Baba Vida The building of Baba Vida is tied to a legend, according to which a Bulgarian king who ruled at Vidin had three daughters: Vida, Kula and Gamza. Prior to his death, he divided his kingdom among the three. Although Gamza and Kula married to drunkard and aggressive men, Vida remained unmarried and built the fortress in her city. The name of the castle means "Granny Vida"
Legend of Trapezitsa was a fortress near Tsarevets. A legend says that the royal mint was built in Trapezitsa. Under the mint, underground, there was a big dungeon in which the royal treasure was kept. The entrance was covered with stone slabs. Stairs led to an iron door. Only the king and the guardian of the treasury knew about the entrance…
Legend of Trapezitsa … When the Ottomans invasion, the king ordered everything to be transferred into the dungeon. Machines for cutting money, raw gold and silver coins. The full treasury was closed. The king ordered the mint to be collapsed. Only its ruins left. The entrance was under a specific big stone. Only the king knew the secret of the stone.
Legend of the cape Kaliakra Probably the most popular legend about the place is the one about 40 Bulgarian girls, who preferred to tie their hair together and jump into the Black Sea rather than face the prospect of being captured by the Ottomans. An obelisk dedicated to this legend is placed at the entrance to the cape.
Legend of the Holy 40 Martyrs Church The Holy 40 Martyrs Church is located in Veliko Tarnovo and it is the place where famous Bulgarian kings were buried. A legend says that after the Ottoman Invasion in the 14 th century, the church was turned into a mosque. They built a minaret, but one night it somehow collapsed. Each time they tried to rebuild the minaret, it would collapse, because the great Christian Bulgarian kings wouldn’t allow to rest in a mosque.