The Bulgarian lands are ancient crossroads. It remembers many ancient civilizations and great peoples which wrote the pages of its turbulent history: bronze and iron spears and arrows, ruins of palaces and cities, wise words carved on rocks and stone columns, written on parchment and leather. The Thracians bequeathed us the famous tombs near Kazanluk and Sveshtari, the unique gold treasures from Panagyurishte and Rogozen. The Hellenes built the beautiful coastal towns of Apollonia, Anhialo and Messambria, and Romans - ancient Aescus, Nikopolis ad Istrum and Nove. Huns, Gothes and Averas later passes through our lands. Around the mid-7th century the Slavs came from the north across the Danube and reached as far as the Black Sea and the Adriatic. They were followed by the Bulgarians of Khan Asparouh... In fact, there were only three states in Europe in 681: The Western Roman Empire, BULGARIA, and The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium)...
Pliska This is the Slavic name the Proto-Bulgarians gave to the first capital of their new state. Reviving the traditions of their predecessors they erected a monumental and austere looking city. Remains of the most impressive buildings have survived until the present: the Large Basilica, the palaces and Throne Room from the second half of the 9-th century. Pliska is now a National Archaeological Reserve.
Built over nearly three decades by Tsar Simeon, the second Bulgarian capital was designed to correspond to the prosperity and upsurge of the Bulgarian state, the conversion to Christianity, the creation of the Slav script and culture. As in Pliska, two fortress walls surrounded the city here too. With its splendour and ornate decorations the inner city, housing the palace complex and the famous Golden Church, demonstrated the power and confidence of the Bulgarian rulers. The nearby PATLEINA MONASTERY, part of the Veliki Preslav National Archaeological Reserve, was a center of writers of the famous Preslav school of literature and the place where the unique painted 'Preslav ceramics' were crafted.
The capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire ( 1185 - 1393). If you should happen to visit this unusual city whose stone houses seem perched one above the other on the steep bank of the Yatra river, you will first be taken to see Tsarevets - the place of the patriarchal church and royal palaces, the hill where Baudouin's Tower still rises, linked with the legend of the Latin Emperor Baudouin of Flanders who was captured by Tsar Kaloyan. Then you will be shown another hill Trapezitsa - where the foundations of 17 mediaeval churches were discovered. You will marvel and enthuse over the Bulgarian National Revival period architectural ensembles on Gurko Street, the old Nikoli Inn and the St. St. Constantine and Helena Church. The original SAMOVODENE MARKET has been brought , back to life and, as in olden times, skillful craftsmen fashion and sell exquisite objects in the small restored workshops. At night, proud Tsarevets lends the natural decor to a fantastic SOUND AND LIGHT spectacle.
The Bulgarian monasteries - hiding human, warm and living rather than "divine" beauty behind their austere stone facades, still amaze with their magnificent architecture, frescoes and murals, exquisite icons and wood-carvings, made by self-taught architects, buildersand painters. The Bulgarian monasteries - during difficult and turbulent times they acted as centers of patriotism which helped to preserve national feelings and hopes of the Bulgarians.
The soft radiance of the Bulgarian icon is a grand dimension of the fate, stability and spiritual evolution of the Bulgarians after their conversion to Christianity during the 9th century. Nameless master painters filled the dead iconography scheme with life, exquisiteness and bursts of color The canonical ascetic faces were replaced by youthful looking saints, humble hermit, venerable prophets and lifelike portraits of the Blessed Virgin. Their deep-set eyes radiate wisdom and a love of mankind. The virtuoso line and the vivid, exuberant color imposed a new ideal of beauty, previously unknown in the Christian world. The tradition of the Bulgarian icon was enriched throughout its millennial history before attaining its zenith during the National Revival period (17th-19th century). The time was ripe for the manifestation of the great artistic taste and talent of the Bulgarian. Whole families of gifted artists brought fame to the three icon-painting schools of Troyan, Samokov and Bansko. Their art works adorned not only the newly built churches, they also entered the Bulgarian home. This explains why icons are so dear to the Bulgarian heart. The most valuable examples of our icon-painting heritage today are displayed in the Crypt of the Alexander Nevsky Memorial Cathedral and the National Museum of Church History and Archaeology in Sofia, the Museum of History of Art in Varna and the Museum of Wood-carving and Painting in Tryavna. A considerable part is kept in the altars of churches and monasteries throughout the country.
THE BULGARIAN CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD HERITAGE For several decades now, under UNESCO aegis, attempts have been made to preserve the planet's most valuable cultural and natural heritage. The UNESCO List of World Heritage now features over 300 landmarks. Nine Bulgarian wonders - seven cultural and two natural sites - are included among them: Rila Monastery Nessebur the Kazanluk Tomb the Sveshtari Tomb the Madara Horseman Boyana Church the Ivanovo Rock Monasteries Pirin National Park Sreburna
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