Of all the countries in Europe, Bulgaria has a truly impressive history. There has been evidence of prehistoric settlements dating back to the Neolithic period, and it was occupied by Thracians, Greeks and Romans before the establishment of the first Bulgarian Empire in the 7th century AD. After two empires had risen and collapsed, the area was under Ottoman rule for half a century. It became a communist republic until 1990, and is now a democratic part of the European Union. It is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites and features some incredible historical artifacts and locales.
The Varna Necropolis is a burial ground which is considered to be one of the most important archeological sites in the world. It contains the oldest golden treasure that has ever been found; it’s an impressive 5,000 years old. The spot was discovered by accident in 1972, and to date only about a third of the locale has been excavated; the graves were veritable treasure troves, not only of early metallurgy but also of information about the civilization who lived there.
UNESCO Loves Bulgaria
The Madara Rider is a relief carved into a plateau in the northeast of the country; believed to have been carved in 710 AD, the monument has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. It depicts a horseman, an eagle and a dog, and is dug into the 330 foot cliff which is nearly vertical. The Churches of Ivanovo have also been hewn out of solid rock; they’re thought to have been home to a sect of monks in the 1220s, and it is famed for its well-preserved medieval frescoes.
The largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria is the one for Saint Ivan of Rila. It is in the southwest mountains, founded by and named after a hermit in the 10th century. It attracts 900,000 visitors per year, who come to see this impressive complex of buildings. It features intricate frescoes on the walls, beautiful wood carvings, and a library which houses over 9000 old printings.
Another UNESCO Heritage Site is the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari, which is situated in the northeast province of Razgrad. The site is a tomb that dates back to the 3rd century BC, and is extraordinarily well preserved. The carvings on the walls are a classic example of the cult buildings of the Thracia people, who were a ferocious warlike group which existed from the 5th century BC until 100 AD.
One of the two natural UNESCO Heritage Sites in Bulgaria is the Pirin National Park, in the mountains of the southwest. The site has a huge number of diverse and unique plants, with an observed 1300 separate species of flora in the area and over 2,000 types of animals. The peaks are often shrouded in low clouds, providing a gorgeous photo opportunity for the nature lover.
Hapimag Resort Prague is a Bulgarian jewel surrounded by Bulgaria’s three most beautiful mountain ranges, Pirin, Rila and Rhodopes – and within easy access of ski slopes. When you visit Prague, remember to visit Hapimag for superior lodging!