World Heritage - Bulgarian world heritage sites listed and described.

Thracian tomb – Kazanlak

One of the most famous monuments of Thracian culture, included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1979, was discovered in 1944. A corridor, 1.95m in length, 1.12m in width and 2.24m in height, leads to a domed tomb, 3.25m in height and 2.65m in diameter at the base. The building material is brick, used two centuries later by the Romans. The frame is of blocks of stone, and clay is used as bonding material. It is situated in the southern part of a mound, at ground level.

The entrance is from the south side. The tomb became world famous with its unique mural, done in wet fresco and tempera. The artistic decoration covers an area of 40 sq m, and is an extraordinary art gallery, taking the visitor far back in time. The pictures show battles and scenes from daily life, realistically displayed, with great dynamism and details in the clothing and armour. The scenes of funeral procession, the musicians, the Thracian ruler and his wife, the chariots, the horses and other depictions are all very interesting. The tomb dates from the late IV c. - early III c. BC. Nearby an exact copy has been built for tourists.

Thracian tomb – Sveshtari

It dates back to the III c. B.C. and is included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1985. It consists of three chambers - an entrance chamber and two antechambers. It is covered by a mound. The decoration of the burial chamber is exceptionally interesting, a unique blend of art and architecture. The stone architrave, around the walls, is supported by ten caryatids. The wall opposite the door is painted in navy blue crayon and depicts the heroicisation of the deceased.

The Horseman of Madara - Madara

A relief, portraying a life-size horseman followed by a dog, is carved on a cliff, about 100m high. The relief covers an area of 23 sq m. A dying lion is pictured at the feet of the horse.Greek inscriptions around the figure tell of Bulgarian rulers and important events. This is a rare monument, dating from the VIII – IX c. AD. It is a unique symbol of young Bulgaria. The scene has been depicted realistically and without any unnecessary details. The work displays early Bulgarian medieval art. It was included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1979.

The Church at Boyana – Sofia

It is one of the most important and valuable antiquities, of exceptional historical and artistic significance. It is situated at the foot of the mountain of Vitosha. The oldest part of the church dates back to the early XI c. According to an original manuscript, in 1295 the two-storey part of the church was built, and the rest was added in the middle of the XIX c.The most interesting parts of the monument are the murals done in 1259. The frescoes are rich in tone. The artist skilfully combines the requirements of iconographical canons with real life. 89 scenes are depicted, containing 240 human images - a real art gallery of the XIII c. The portraits of the founder of the church, patron Kaloian and his wife Desislava and of prince Konstantin and his wife Irina, are the pinnacle of the skill of the artist. The monument was included in the World Register of Historical and Natural Sites in 1979.

Rock Monasteries - Ivanovo

This is an area where a number of mediaeval churches, monastic cells and chapels were carved on both sides of the river Lom. A colony of hermits lived here from the III c. to the XVII c. The natural vesicles in the karst rocks were widened and moulded to meet the needs of the colony. The chambers are at a height of 6-10m, and are connected by series of stairs, passages, galleries.The walls are covered with pictures of biblical themes and compositions with many figures. Great artistic value, refined colour scheme and admirable skill are displayed. The partly conserved frescoes are evidence of the notable achievements of the Bulgarian mediaeval art school. The remaining scriptures emphasise the significance of the literary school which developed in this area. The monasteries were included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1979.

The Rila Monastery

This monastery is a holy place for all Bulgarians, for it preserved their pride, national identity, faith and hope through the centuries. It was founded in the X c. by followers of the Bulgarian hermit Saint Ivan Rilski. The monastery is one of the most significant cultural centres in Bulgaria, where through the centuries intensive spiritual, educational and creative activities flourished. It was in close contact with spiritual centres abroad. After a devastating fire, the monastery was completely rebuilt in the XIX c. It is the biggest renaissance monument in Bulgaria.An architectural and Artistic composition of enormous dimensions, it is the apogee of the work of renaissance craftsmen, icon painters, wood carvers, artisans in the artistic area where architecture and the decorative and monumental painting of stone, wood and metal are combined.

The defensive tower of Khrelio, built in the XIV c., is located in the yard. The Monastery is still in use. There is a sumptuous library, a historical museum and a few subject museum exhibition. The church was painted by the most famous representatives of the Bulgarian renaissance artistic school. The Rila monastery was included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1983.

Old Nesebar

Situated on a peninsula in the Black Sea, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus, this is a town with a history going back millennia. Each era has left its permanent marks, and today the town is unique, a huge museum displaying the way of life of the different people that have inhabited it. On this tiny island, castle walls from Thracian times, defensive structures, private and public buildings from the Hellenistic period, mediaeval churches and renaissance buildings combine to form a unique atmosphere. Nearby is the famous Black Sea resort of Slunchev Briag (Sunny Beach).

The churches were built during the early Byzantine period (V-VI) and during the middle ages (X-XIV). The oldest of them are the basilicas, cruciform with a single nave. The murals from the XIV-XVIII c. have an exceptional historic and artistic value, displaying the traditions and craftsmanship of the artisans and icon painters of that time. Old Nesebar was included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1983.

The Nature Reserve - Sreburna

Sreburna was included in the list of biosphere nature reserves under the aegis of UNESCO in 1977, and in 1983 it was included in the World Register of Natural Heritage. It is situated in northern Bulgaria, at the delta of the river Danube. It is a lake, 1.5m deep, fed by water from the river and karst water. The temperature of the water during winter is 0°C, and in the summer up to 28°C. The natural habitat favours the growth of a wide variety of animal and plant species. Of great interest are the 160 species of birds, 90 of which nest and breed here.

Sreburna is a stopping place for many migratory birds. It possesses oneof the four known colonies of the curly-headed pelican in Europe. There is also a considerable colony of herons and other rare water birds. There are many species of mammals, river animals and plants. The reserve covers an area of 8,000 decares. In the vicinity there is a nature museum and an ecological research station.

Pirin National Park

The main ridge of the mountains is aligned from north-west to south-south-east. It is about 80km long and 40km wide. It covers an area of 2,585 sq km of exceptional natural beauty - high peaks, many glacial massifs, 176 lakes. About 90% of these lakes are more than 2,100m above sea level. 119 of them were created by glaciers. The most famous of these are: Popovo lake, Kremenskite lakes, Valiavihkite lakes, Vlahinskite lakes, Bunderishkite lakes, Vasilashkite lakes. The sharply contoured landscape and the blend of Central European and mediterranean climates ensure a wide variety of flora and fauna. In 1962 part of the mountain was proclaimed as a national park, initially named Vihren, and later on renamed Pirin. Noting the uniqueness of the park and its global significance, UNESCO included it in the World Register of Natural Heritage.

The park covers an area of 26,479.8 hectares, and is the largest in the country. It includes parts of the mountains which are more than 1,000m above sea level, with unique ecosystems, areas with specific geomorphology, a large number of Bulgarian and Balkan endemites and relics. There are a few trees declared to be natural heritage, including the Baikusheva white fir, more than 1,200 years old, 16m high and with a circumference of 5.70m.

The park also contains 70 glacial lakes, many caves, waterfalls, majestic abysses and cliffs. The areas of natural beauty include the Bunderishki caves, Kasana, Kioshkata, the rock formation Pirostiata, the Demianishki Skok and Iulenski Skok waterfalls, the natural reserve Baiuvi Dupki - Jinjiritsa, etc. The mountain is almost impassable. Roads have been made from Bansko, Sandanski, Gotze Delchev, etc.

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