Again something for those who are going to Bulgaria in the summer. In the first part, which you can find here, we paid attention to those who like nature and romantic trips. This time we focus on history and mysteries connected with the ancient Thracians.
If you like mystery
Thracian sanctuaries (more information about Thracians on our blog here)
This “Bulgarian Stonehenge” is situated just 6 km from the well-known summer resort Primorsko on the hillside of the plain Strandja. It was discovered in 2003.
Archeologists believe that the place was used for ritual ceremonies by the ancient Thracians from the 2nd millennium BC until the 4th century AC! A fortune-teller lived in the sanctuary, it is said that even Odysseus made a stop here to ask him for advice.
The Thracians practiced their fertility cult here. Several ensembles of huge megalithic stone blocks with traces of carvings made by hand symbolize different stages of the bond of marriage between the Great Mother Goddess and the Sun God. The most interesting are: the marital bed with a formed pillow on the Eastern side, the womb of the Mother Goddess and the overturned heart with a carved narrow passage to pass to the underworld.
There are also some blocks tumbled by earthquakes, one ensemble was used as a sundial made of 16 flat round stones, the other one like a calendar.
Here you can also see a stone throne from where the king-priest led ritual ceremonies and an altar with gouged holes. The ancient Thracians poured four sacred fluids in those holes: water, wine, milk and olive oil.
It is interesting that no animal remains were found in this area. It means that the Thracians only brought vegetable sacrifices here – grapes, figs, berries, olives, bread, different seeds etc. Lots of pottery, coins, tools and weapons were found here. On the central rock surface there are small holes in the form of the Pleiades star constellation. After filling them with oil during performed rites the Thracians lighted them which intensified the magical sanctity.
Even today many people are frequenting this place to meditate here in silent solitude.
Marko’s stone is a big stone 8 meters high. Nobody knows where it is from. There are not any similar stones in the surroundings. That’s why local people connect it with the folk hero Krali Marko who was very strong.
According to one legend, Krali Marko while resting in the meadow unintentionally touched this big stone with his little finger and it rolled to its present place. Another legend says that Krali Marko made a stop here and accidentally stepped on the stone. There are still his footprints which are called “God’s eyes” by local people. If it rains, water will collect inside. People find this water to be healing.
The local guide will gladly explain the complicated procedure to you which is performed by childless couples who would like to have a baby. They say that the success rate is high. Couples return here and bring some gifts. A goulash is cooked on the St. Atanas day here and some of the ancient rituals come alive. The Thracians knew that this place is full of energy, they built an altar here.
You can get to the big stone by jeeps from the small village Dolno Yabalkovo. Only 30 people live in the village, it is very easy to find the house of the local enthusiastic businessman Zhoro who organizes the trips to the stone. There are always some jeeps parking in front of his house.
On the way to the big stone you can see some dolmens which are small megalithic constructions from several vertical megaliths supporting one or more large flat horizontal capstones.
The best preserved dolmen is situated in the locality called Korubata. It looks like a small house for forest dwarfs but even 10 sitting adults could fit in its very back room.
The majority of archeologists think that dolmens were used as tombs but no findings were made here which could verify this or some other theory.
The whole area has a mystical atmosphere. Some local men insist that from time to time they meet “samodivy” here. These are beautiful forest nymphs. If you meet them you will long for them so strongly that you will fall in deep depressions. There is only one possibility how to free yourself – you must touch the nymph’s dress. But she puts it off only when she takes a bath in a river…
More info: here
There are so many ancient Thracian monuments in Bulgaria. Some of them were cleverly hidden under piled mound. Also this Thracian tempel built in 5th – 3rd centuries BC was crowned with a grand mound. It is a circular sanctuary consisting of three circles. The outer circle was made of white marble, the middle one of granite and the inner circle was built from at least seven raws of marble stones which reached the height of 4,35 m.
You can still see the iron hook nails on some blocks. It proves the mastery of ancient Thracians in metallurgy. They poured lead over the nails to protect them against corrosion.
Sacred gifts like wine, water, olive oil or other food were brought to the sanctuary. The Thracians sacrificed also animals here, especially dogs.
You can get to Mishkova Niva by jeeps only. These trips are organized by the Tourist Information Center in Malko Tarnovo. The town is small but there are several museums there. You can see a triangular stone portal in front of the Archeological Museum. Once this portal decorated the entrance to the sanctuary of Mishkova Niva.
There are two hands, a shield and an arrow depicted on it. Some archeologists think this was the sign of welcoming for those guests who came in peace. If they wanted to fight, this was the sign that the sanctuary was able to resist.
More info: here
If you like history
There are several museums in the region which are worthy of a visit, among them the Archeological Museums in Burgas and Sozopol with many objects from the life of the ancient Thracians.
If you like Roman history then you should visit the antique town Deultum near the village Debelt, situated just 17 km from Burgas.
The Roman Colony of Deultum was established here in the beginning of the 70s of the 1st century, during the ruling of emperor Tit Flavius Vespasian, by the veterans of the 8th Augustan Legion. There were 10,000 people living here. Of course, one of the first buildings built in this area was a thermal bath with both cold and hot water, with sporting rooms, a gym, sauna, massage room and brothel. The excavations are still in process, different parts of the town are being unearthed.
The close Mandrensko Lake used to be connected with the Black Sea, ships could sail into the port of the town. Many amphora were found here, their seals prove active trade with Greek towns and islands. What’s more, even dolphins swam into the lake to fish. You can find dolphins depicted on many drawings and coins, but also as armrests used on public latrines.
This territory has a very important strategic position. During the early Middle Ages the town became an important border point between the Kingdoms of Bulgaria and of Byzantium, a custom house was built here. In the middle of the 9th century a basilica was built here which was the Christianity gateway in Bulgaria. Because of seals found here historians suppose that the khan Boris was baptized here in 864 and adopted the name Mikhail and the Slavic title knyaz. When in 885 the disciples of Saint Cyril and Methodius were banished from Great Moravia, he gave them refuge and provided assistance to develop the Bulgarian alphabet and literature. The place with the foundations of the basilica is not accessible because there is a large metallurgy fabric now. Deultum was declared one of Bulgarian Wonders in 2011, selected by electronic voting.
More info about Burgas and surroundings: here