Southern Europe

Bulgaria’s Best Historical Sites to Check Out

Bulgaria offers plenty for the tourist, and nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to historical landmarks and structures. Many sites have become renowned throughout the world, but some may be considered hidden treasures. Here are Bulgaria’s best historical sites to check out the next time you’re planning a trip. Bulgaria is famous for its beaches and warm waters, and every summer thousands of western tourists flock to their beaches with a bottle of greasy coconut oil in one hand and a cheap drink in the other. But Bulgaria is so much more than just beaches, the nature is incredibly varied, and there are some truly amazing historical sites to check out.

Bulgaria's Best Historical Sites

Bulgaria’s Best Historical Sites

All those tourists taking cheap holidays to Bulgaria and only head to the beaches are really missing out on something special. If you’re planning a trip to Bulgaria, I would definitely recommend you visit the beaches and Danube River Cruise – but do take a few days to explore other gems of the country.

Bulgaria’s Best Historical Sites

Bulgaria's Best Historical Sites Aladzha monastery

Bulgaria’s Best Historical Sites Aladzha monastery

Aladzha monastery

Located 14 km from Varna, this beautiful cave temple is a wonderful place to walk around in for a while. Nobody knows exactly when it was built, but there is evidence that it existed already in the 10th-12th centuries. The monastery has clearly distinguished premises for different purposes, arranged on two levels in a 40 meter high limestone rock. You have the church, the kitchen, the small cemetery church, the refectory, the monastery cells, the crypt and farm on the first level.

Belogradchik Rocks

The Belogradchik Rocks are a group of strange shaped rock formations located on the western side of the Balkan Mountains near Belogradchik town. The rocks are red and yellow, some as high as 200 meters, and their incredible shapes are associated with local legends.

Rila Monastery

Founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, the Rila Monastery is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bulgaria. It’s regarded as one of the country’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monument, and is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The monastery is very beautiful, so if you have the time it is well worth a visit.

Tsarevets

Located on a hill in northern Bulgaria, Tsarevets was once a stronghold served as the second Bulgarian Empire’s fortress in the medieval centuries. Walking along the narrow street, you really feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and the views over Veliko and Yantra river are absolutely stunning!

Perperikon

Perperikon is a megalithic Thracian sanctuary located on the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. More than 8,000 years old, Perperikon was once a royal palace and a center for religious worship dedicated to Zagreus, the Thracian god. After the Thracians fell from power, other civilizations like the Goth, Romans, Byzantines and Bulgarians came to the place. Today this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bulgaria.

Sveshtari

90 km to the east of the Ruse lies the village of Sveshtari, which evidence indicates was a religious and civic center prior to the Roman conquest. The biggest barrow cluster can be found at the Sboryanovo Historical to the west of the village. The region has 26 burial mounds and in terms of archaeological importance, has few equals in Bulgaria. Not surprisingly, the site was named as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1985. Currently the place is undergoing maintenance and is only open on certain hours.

Tatul

Legend says that this is the final resting place of Orpheus, but that’s not the only myth surrounding this religious complex. The site, located 15 km away from Momchilgrad, contains several graves and a fortress that was built in the medieval times. According to archaeologists, the place was used as a sacrificial ground by the Thracians. However, there’s more to Tatul than that as it is also a good spot for observing the sun.

The Kazanlak Tomb

The Kazanlak Tomb is the first historical site in Bulgaria to be included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Uncovered by soldiers in 1944, the tomb goes back as far as the 4th century BC. Due to the ongoing maintenance, access is restricted now, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be allowed. Just make sure to follow all the guidelines when you visit and everything should be all right.

Starosel

More than 120 tumuli that have been found around Starosel Village, and though just a few have been studied from the evidence it would seem that they were used by the Thracians as tombs and temples. Two of these tombs are open to tourists and is definitely worth a visit. In addition to the historical relics, the village is also known for its wine, and if you’re in the area you should try it out.

The Valley of the Thracian Kings

Last but not the least is the Valley of the Thracian Kings, located in the Kazanlak Valley  with more than a dozen tumuli. From the road heading to the site you can see the major sites, and though some areas are still being excavated, some are open for viewing and worth a visit, making this one of Bulgaria’s best historical sites to check out.

(photo credit: 1)