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Destinations for Cultural Tourism in Bulgaria:

Arbanasi, Nesebur, Belitsa, Gabrovo, Gotse Delchev, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Kazanlak, Madara, Melnik, Pliska, Plovdiv, Sandanski, Samokov, Shiroka Laka, Stara Zagora, Shumen, Troyan, Veliki Preslav, Veliko Turnovo



Bulgaria Unsesco World Heritage Listed sites and Landmarks

Rila Monastery, Nessebur, Kazanluk Tomb, Sveshtari Tomb, Madara Horseman, Boyana Church, Ivanovo Rock Monasteries, Pirin National Park, Sreburna Lake.


Pobitite Kamani (Rammed Stones, Stone Forest, Standing Stones)

If travelling to the city of Varna, do not miss to visit the Pobitite Kamani. Also known as Rammed Stones, Stone Forest and the Standing Stones, this is a natural rock phenomenon situated eighteen km west from the city of Varna and only few km away from the town of Beloslav near the Hemus highway. The formations were created by erosion and date some 50 million years back. They contain various forms of fossils and in the ancient times were used for worship.

In the year 1937 the site was declared as natural landmark and nowadays attracts many tourists, guests of the Bulgarian Black Sea capital of Varna. The stones are divided into several groups, occupying an area of 7 square km. Their dimensions vary between 0.3 and 3 metres in width and 5 - 7 metres of height. The most interesting from tourist point of view groups of formations include the Dikilitashkata, Strashimirovskata, Karierata and Kanarata group. The stones are also developed and up to three levels underground, which can be seen on the outcroppings in the Karierata site. Nowadays attempts are being made for the site to be included in UNESCO's world heritage list. Varna's Museum of Natural History offers guided tours of the phenomenon in different languages (must be booked in advance).


Kamchia Biosphere Reserve

The Kamchia Biosphere Reserve - one of the real gems on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast for nature lovers! It is situated on the northern coastline of Bulgaria, along the mouth of Kamchia River, not far away from the city of Varna (approximately 25 km south). The reserve was initially established in 1951 and was later included in UNESCO's World Natural Heritage list in 1977. Along with Kamchia Sands Protected Area, the entire reserve covers 1.200 ha. It is a habitat to a diverse flora and fauna and attracts lots of tourists during the summer season.

The jungle-like Longoz forests are the best representatives of their kind throughout the entire continent. Some mammals that inhabit the reserve include roe deer, wild boar, pine marten, fox. Reptiles and amphibians that are often encountered here are pond turtle, tessellated water snake, alligator lizard and many more. The river is home to a huge diversity of fish species. The area is also a habitat to various kinds of birds, such as Black Stork, eagles, Hobby, Scops Owl, Nightjar, as well as the very rare half-collared flycatcher. The area can easily be called birdwatchers' paradise!

The Kamchia resort itself is a quite and cosy spot, usually visited from tourist who want to stay a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger resorts and cities on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The reserve is surrounded by the nearby villages of Staro Oriahovo, Shkorpilovtsi and Bliznatsi, where one will find good accommodation and some popular tourist attractions.


Kamchia River Biosphere Reserve

The Petrich Fortress (Petrich Kale)

The Petrich Fortress (Petrich Kale) is a very interesting site for cultural tourism and the rocks around are also attractive place for mountaineering. The fortress was initially erected during the fifth century and after being ruined was again rebuild some time between the 13th and 14th century. It is located few kilometers from the village of Arven and just 1 km away from the railway station of Razdelna village, positioned on the plateau of Arven. During the middle ages it was an important part of the Bulgarian defense system, but is also related with the Czech, Polish and Hungarian history and the Polish-Hungarian king Vladislav III Jagiello Varnenchik.

The site includes remains of various buildings, inner defending wall and a storage reservoir carved in the rock. Some of the finds here include a couple of coins of Ivan Alexander king, various ornaments, military weapons such as arrow and pike gads, etc.
Due to its proximity to the city of Varna the Petrich Fortress attracts many foreign tourists, cultural heritage enthusiasts, as well as local climbers.

Other tourist attractions in the area are also Avren Golf & Leisure Complex, the Kamchiya and Provadiya Rivers. The municipality of Arven includes a total of 85 sites of cultural interest. There is a monastery, a couple of churches and mosques, several ancient settlements and over fifty Renaissance houses.

St Marina Monastery

The St Marina Monastery is a popular cloister, situated 30 km. south of Dobrich and 35 km. north of Varna near the village of Botevo. The monastery dates back to the middle of 19th century and is built around a curative spring. There is a chapel and two baths right above the spring's healing waters. The monastery church of the same name was erected in 1884. St. Marina is a popular Saint in Bulgaria and is honoured as the patron of health, waters and protector of the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria.

After 1944, during the communism in Bulgaria the monastery was almost abandoned, but several years ago it was revived with the financial help from citizens of the region and blessed by Varna's and Veliki Preslav Bishop Kiril.

Nowadays, the site is a popular among the worshipers from north-eastern Bulgaria, as well as for religious tourism for foreign guests. The traditional gathering on the day of Marin is also restored, thus attracting a number of visitors. Accommodation is available in the monastery but one should settle it in advance with the abbot archimandrite Gervasii.

Other places of interest here include the most famous Black Sea resorts on the northern coast, such as Albena, Golden Sands, Balchik and Kranevo, as well as the more distant Kaliakra Cape.

Dineya Fortress

Another interesting ancient site in the region of Shumen is the Dineya Fortress. It is located in the village of Voyvoda, which is on twenty eight kilometres north-east of Shumen, on the road to the town of Kaolinovo. The fortress consists of impressive defensive wall and huge towers with a diameter of 18.5 metres. It dates back to the period IV - VI century and is supposed to be built as a defense to the barbarians' attack from the north.
Just 6 km. away from the Dineya Fortress is another antic site - the first capital of the Bulgarian State Pliska.

Ethnographic Museum Kalugeritsa

The residential area of Kalugeritsa is situated near Kaspichan at the foot of rocks part of the Provadian plateau. It is known for its ethnographic museum - an authentic Bulgarian house. Built in 1877, it holds exhibits representative of the ordinary everyday life. The building is from sun-dried brick All the furniture is original and restored and the floor is covered with straw-mats In one of the rooms there is the household equipment of the 18th century, in the other - spin and loom instruments. Farming appliances can be found in the yard. The ethnographic exhibition is licensed by the Ministry of Culture.

 The magic of the customs is revived by the Authentic Folklore Ensemble - 14 women singing a capella. Children’s folklore games can be seen animated by local youngsters.
After playing with them and dancing horo, you can try home-made cakes, coffee made on sand and traditional lunch. 
The ethnographic museum serves also as a guest house offering accommodation, a place for rest, sun-bathing and barbeque. In the yard an exhibition of hand-made souvenirs offers you an opportunity for a keepsake.
The ethnographic museum is situated 1,5km away from the Madara Rider, 4km from the old capital Pliska and 20km from Shumen.

The Holy Heart of Jesus Monastery in Tsarev Brod

The Holy Heart of Jesus Monastery is situated in the Tsarev Brod village near Shumen. It is the first catholic monastery of the Benedictine Sisters in Bulgaria.
The beginning of the catholic mission dates back to 1900 when the German Passionist priest Franz Krings arrived in Tsarev Brod worried by the absence of a school for the German community in the region. The building was finished in 1910 and in 1914 four Benedictine Sisters (a teacher, a farmer, a nurse and a dressmaker) were sent to the convent. They opened a catholic German elementary school which thought Bulgarian and Armenian children as well. The sisters took care of orphans, organized lectures for cultural and moral progress and run a medical station which proved very important in managing epidemic typhus fever. The monastery earned its living thanks to the intensive farming. Only a decade after its foundation the convent opened missions in the villages of Bardarski Geran near Byala Slatina and Dragomirovo near Svishtov. In 1950 part of the property of the monastery was used for a women’s psychiatric hospital where the nuns where appointed as nurses.

Nowadays the monastery plays an important role in the social life - the sisters work with young people, find jobs for unemployed women and organize cultural events. A kitchen functions for the poor and those in need. A flower garden since the arrival of the four sisters in 1914 holds the secret of the monastery - the marigold which the nuns use for their famous ointment used for skin diseases. When around make sure you don't miss the Kabiyuk Archeological Reserve and its Horse Museum only 5km away from Tsarev Brod.

National Historical and Archeological Reserve Kabiyuk & The Horse Museum

Kabiyuk is the oldest State farm in Bulgaria, situated on historical site 13 km. away from the town of Shumen. The first settlement here dates back to the First Bulgarian Kingdom and was once a satellite of the first Bulgarian capital Pliska, which is not far away. Later, during the rule of the Ottomans in 1864 Midhad Pasha from Ruse establishes a horse farm for the needs of their army.
Kabiyuk was declared a National Historical and Archeological Reserve in 2011 and nowadays here are being breed some very rare races of farm animals, from which of particular interest are the horses among which Arabic, Shagiya, Haflinger, East Bulgarian horse and other kinds.

The site includes hill complex with unique flora for the country, an ancient temple and a Museum of the Horse.
On its site is the summer residence of Alexander Bathenberg during the Third Bulgarian Kingdom and here is arranged the joint between Eastern Rumelia and the Bulgarian Kingdom.
It is visited by many travellers while on holiday at the resorts across the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Many tour operators offer organized daily trips in the area – the Reserve of Madara, Pliska, Veliki Preslav, Shumen Forters and Platau along with Kabiyuk.

The Horse Museum is maybe the most interesting part from the National Historical and Archeological Reserve Kabiyuk, near the town of Shumen. The horse breeding here dates back to 1864 during the rule of Ottomans and later becomes the first State farm for horse.
Some of the breeds here include Trakener, Plevenska, Oldenbourg, Hanover, Hallsteiner and others.
In fact, Kabiyuk's Horse Museum is the only one in entire Balkan Peninsula. Holidaymakers from the Black Sea summer resorts often visit the site in daily trips along with other tourist attractions in the near towns like Shumen, Pliska, Veliki Preslav and the village of Madara.

The Palace of Khan Omurtag

The Palace of Khan Omurtag (ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire in 815 - 831) is located on the grounds of "Hisar Kale", on 2 km from the village of Khan Krum and 10 km. away from both Shumen and Veliki Preslav. It is supposed that the palace (Aul) is related to the Chatalarski Inscription and dates to the period IV - V century. The first archeological examinations are performed in 1957, discontinued in late 80's and renewed again in 2002. In 1976 here is discovered a church from IV century with remains of some of the earliest Christian mural painting in Bulgaria. Archeological activities are still in progress on the site.

Patleyna Nature Reserve

Situated 4 km. from the town of Veliki Preslav, Patleyna Nature Reserve is easily accessible via well maintained road. The site covers an area of approximately 38 hectare and is officially declared as reserve in 1948 with the main aim to preserve the only habitat of Judas-Tree (Cercis siliquastrum L.) in Bulgaria. Nowadays, the area is home to many rare plant species and also has very abundant and diverse fauna. Of tourist interest are and the Mechata Duka Cave (Bear's Den Cave) and the Saint Panteleymon Monastery.
Patleyna is a popular recreational area, there are several tourist lodges on its territory offering accommodation among the nature, but one can stay and in the nearby Preslav and visit another National History-Archeological Reserve of Veliki Preslav.

St Panteleymon Monastery in the Nature Reserve of Patleyna

St Panteleymon Monastery is situated in the Nature Reserve of Patleyna, only few kilometres away from the town of Veliki Preslav, above the Golyama Kamchiya River among the beautiful Dragoevska Planina (Dragoevo Mount). Initially the abbey was erected during the ninth century and later destroyed in eleventh century. Nowadays, there are still remains preserved. The monastery consists of church, farms, living buildings and workshops. Discovered are also a deeply earthed tomb and a mosaic icon of St Theodor Stratilat (X c.).
It is supposed that here worked the St Kiril and Metodii's followers Kliment and Naum.
The monastery is declared as a cultural monument.

The Revival Complex in Smyadovo

The Revival Complex in the small town of Smyadovo, near Shumen is an interesting site, representing the daily life at this time. The complex includes the St. Archangel Michael church built in 1869, a gallery and a monastery school from 1846.
The current church is actually erected on the place of older such, which is supposed to have been built before 1800. In 1922 to the church is added and a bell tower, which was renovated in 2001.

The monastery school from 1846 actually begins its origin from 1820, although just as a single, hidden room near the church's building. It is later expanded in 1860 and nowadays is a gallery with permanent displays of Veselin Kavaldzhiev, Petur Dochev, Valentin Kulev, Krasimir Arsov, Svetliu Stoyanov, Ivanka Peneva, Valeri Zheliazkov, and other Bulgarian artists.
In another girls-only school from same period are currently present ethnographical exhibitions of clothes and various tools from that period.
One of the symbols of Smyadovo is the Bridge - Monument, which connects the center of the town to the Revival Complex. It is built during 1931 - 1932 in honour of the locals that have died during the First and Second Balkan Wars and the First World War.
Other points of interest in Smyadovo are the Thracian Tombs and necropolises.

The revival Church St Dimitar Solunski in Varbitsa

The revival Orthodox Church St Dimitar Solunski in the small town of Varbitsa, near the Ticha reservoir is part of Varna's and Veliki Preslav's eparchy. Interesting is the fact that it was built with donations from both Christians and Muslims, as well as with the support of the sultan! It was erected during the years after 1860 and its bell tower still sounds across the entire Gerlovski valley.
On its current site there was once a small, older church but it has been burnt down by the Ottomans who obviously later changed their mind thanks to the insists from a janissary named Turk Vassilaki and the current church has been built.
In 1997 all the icons of St Dimitar have been restored.

St George and St Triveliy Church in Madara

Saint George and Saint Triveliy Church in the popular Bulgarian village of Madara was officially consecrated on 27th April 2011 by the Varna's and Veliki Preslav's bishop Kiril.
St George is the official patron of the village, while St Triveliy (Khan Tervel) is supposed to be the one represented on the unique rock relief - Madara Rider (also known as Madara Horseman), which is part of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List of UNESCO.
The church is built entirely with donations from residents of the Shumen region and occupies an area of 230 square metres. The iconostasis is made by the painter Yordan Yordanov and the wood carving by Yordan Andreev. The church impresses with its clean architecture and beautiful garden. Do not miss to visit the Historical-Archeological Reserve Madara while in the village!

Saints Peter and Paul Church in Veliki Preslav

Saints Peter and Paul Church in Veliki Preslav (the Second Capital City of Bulgaria), built in 1808, is a Bulgarian Orthodox Church part of the Diocese of Varna and Veliki Preslav, with Metropolitan Kirill and priest Nikolay Nikolov.
In order to be built, temple must have been earthed into the ground so that it is not standing higher than the sultan and after many burnings and restorations, the church still preserves its original architecture.
Of particular interest are the two icons of Saints Peter and Paul and the one of St. Panthelemoy, painted by an artist from Shumen - Nikola Vasilev during 1885.
In 1993 the church was renovated and is now open for service.

The Jump Waterfall on Krashtenitsa River

Situated near the village of Veselinovo, on the road Shumen - Karnobat is the Jump Waterfall (Skakaloto). The fall is on Krashtenitsa River and is reachable by a beautiful eco-path, just 10 minutes walk from the main road.
The waterfall is 50 metres in height and in 2006 the site was declared as a protected area. Here one will find other smaller falls, various karst formations, the Sofrata Cave, which although only 40 m. long is quite impressive and of course beautiful unspoiled nature. It is supposed that the Sofrata Cave was used for sacrifices by the Thracians.
The eco-path is well maintained with signs and there is also a nice fountain on the way - a pleasant spot for a short relax.

Ticha Reservoir

Situated in northeastern Bulgaria, near the towns of Veliki Preslav, Varbitsa, Smyadovo and Shumen, Ticha Reservoir is one of the largest in the country. Its older name is Vinitsa, as when built the villages of Vinitsa and Staroselka were flooded and their inhabitants moved.
It covers an area of 18,7 square metres, a total volume of 311 800 000 m³ and has the largest circumference of all reservoirs in Bulgaria - a total of 100 km of girt.
In addition that Ticha is the drinking water supply for a number of towns and villages in the region it is also a popular recreational area. There are many hotels, restaurants and complexes on its banks, offering various tourist services and sports. Some of the most popular fishing spots are near the villages of Sushina, Byala Reka, Tushovitsa, Ivanovo and Lovets. The nature is very clean and beautiful, attracting many campers.

Ticha Reservoir

The Thracian Tomb

The Thracian Tomb, just 1 000 metres northeast from the town of Smyadovo was found in year 2000 and is dated back to the IV century BC. It consists of two chambers and according to the inscription on a plate at its entrance (which is unique for entire Bulgaria), there are two versions: one supposes that this is the resting place of a Thracian queen, the wife of Sevt; the other is that the tomb is built for a famous captain of Sevt - Dromiheth.
Nowadays the finds from the tomb and the area are moved and exhibited in the Regional Historical Museum of Shumen, which is on 27 km. by car from Smyadovo.

There are also many hill necropolises discovered in the area, such as the one near Zlatar village, few in the area of "Chelina", "Gustaka" (The Bush), "Chernikovi Mogili", "Lyaskovtsi" and the one near Brestova River.
Other sites for cultural and religious tourism around Smyadovo are the Revival Complex, and the fortresses of "Chelina" and "Lisichka Kale" dating back to the IV - VI century. Various ceramic artifacts have been found around these fortifications.
Yet another point of interest is the Roman Road, located in the "Golyam Kaldarum" grounds, several kilometres southwest of Smyadovo.
Interesting are also the waterfall at Skoka and the Bialoto Tsvete (The White Flower) area nearby.

Peter Persengiev Art Gallery and Museum

On one of the central streets in the town of Novi Pazar ("4 Tsar Osvoboditel"), one will find the Peter Persengiev Art Gallery and Museum. One building hosts both the gallery of the famous painter and the town's history museum.
The art gallery was established in 1974 and includes about 900 works. The museum collection consists of over 400 exhibits, mainly on historical thematic of the area from the Paleolithic to the late Middle Ages. The gallery regularly has exhibitions of artists and craftsmen from the town, as well as of young talents from the local schools.
Other nearby cultural attractions in Novi Pazar include the Clock Tower from 1826, the St. Petka church from 1850 and the local Melpoart theater.

Novi Pazar Clock Tower

Built in 1826, the old Clock Tower is one of the major tourist attractions and a symbol of the small town in north-eastern - Novi Pazar (translated as "new market" in English). It is just 22 km. east from the town of Shumen, on the banks of Kriva River.
The bell was made in the town of Gabrovo and then brought to Novi Pazar,  The current position of the tower is actually around twenty metres south-west from its initial place as it was moved during the period 1865 - 1868.
Due to its age and interesting architecture, as well as interior the tower is a valuable souvenir for a tourist's photo album.
Other places of interest in Novi Pazar are the art gallery "Petar Persengiev" and the theatre "Melpoart" with director Zlati Zlatev.

Karnobat Clock Tower

The clock tower in the old town of Karnobat is erected in the middle of the nineteenth century by masters from the Trevnenski architectural school. The building of the tower is a result of the economical prosperity of the inhabitants of the town after the Bulgarian Revival. It is known that the construction is entrusted to a master from Tryavna, but his name remains a mystery. In regard of architecture, the tower has a typical Balkan style with long, prismatic stone contents above which is additional storey with polygonal rounded section.

It is supposed that the twenty-three and a half metre clock tower has been completed during the spring of 1841. The time has been measured by its bell tolls, which was bought from Romania, but the clockwork was made by a master from the town of Gabrovo. Later in 1983, the clockwork was restored by a master from Karnobat named Dimitar Todorov.

Old Bulgarian Capitals:

Pliska - The first Bulgarian Capital

Pliska Bulgaria

Veliki Preslav - Capital during the First Bulgarian Kingdom

Bulgaria Veliki Preslav

Veliko Turnovo - the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 - 1393)

Veliko Turnovo

Bulgarian Churches

Shipka Monument



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Bulgaria Cultural Map & Historic Places!

bg culture map