Tag Archives: UNESCO Bulgaria

Bulgaria – UNESCO – Pirin Mountains

Pirin National Park

Spread over an area of over 27,000 ha, at an altitude between 1008 and 2914 m in the Pirin Mountains, southwest Bulgaria, the site comprises diverse limestone mountain landscapes with glacial lakes, waterfalls, caves and predominantly coniferous forests. It was added to the World Heritage List in 1983. The extension now covers an area of around 40,000 ha in the Pirin Mountains, and overlaps with the Pirin National Park, except for two areas developed for tourism (skiing). The dominant part of the extension is high mountain territory over 2000m in altitude, and covered mostly by alpine meadows, rocky screes and summits.


Bulgaria – UNESCO – Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak



Discovered in 1944, this tomb dates from the Hellenistic period, around the end of the 4th century BC. It is located near Seutopolis, the capital city of the Thracian king Seutes III, and is part of a large Thracian necropolis. The tholos has a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing Thracian burial rituals and culture. These paintings are Bulgaria’s best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

Bulgaria – Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari


The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is a 3rd century BC tomb that reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings. It was discovered in 1982.

The tomb’s architectural decor is considered to be unique, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals.

It differs from the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak as it is a hypogeum, not a construction with a cupola. With its origins in the culture of the Getae, it fits a Hellenistic model that was common in Macedonia, Asia Minor and Egypt.

Bulgaria – Ivanovo Rock Monasteries

The Ivanovo Rock Monastery is situated 21km south of the town of Rousse. In fact, the rock monastery is completely different from the other monastery complexes to be found in Bulgaria. In contrast to the traditional monastery complex which consists of 1-2 churches and a residential part, the Ivanovo cloister represents a network of small churches, chapels and cells hewn into the rocks, 32m above the waters of the picturesque canyon of the Roussenski Lom River. This cloister is the most famous one of the group of built-in-rock shrines around for its beautiful and well-preserved wall paintings.

The caves were inhabited by monks from the 13th century to the 17th century (some of the most popular and preserved ones being the Gospodev Dol Chapel and the Buried-Under Church). As if striving to be closer to God, hermit monks started to settle here in the 13th century, digging cells, churches and chapels into the rocks. During the apogee of the religious complex, the rock churches are believed to have been about 40, while the cells of monks – about 300. Unfortunately, most of these are no longer preserved.

The Ivanovo Monastery owes its unequalled cultural and historic value predominantly to the mural paintings dating from the 13th and 14th century and preserved in five of the rock churches. Talented artists pained them with realistic frescos, exquisite in color and composition, and turned them into a true treasure of Bulgarian medieval painting. The murals abound in antique motives – nude caryatids, columns atop lions, masks. They are an example of the revived attention towards antiquity and its culture, which in the 14th century can be noticed in Christian Orthodox art.

Of the churches still preserved, Gospodev Dol (to be found in a place of the same name) is the richest in wall paintings, while the monks’ cells keep the secret of passionate confessions, carved in the walls. From one of these wall scripts, one learns that Tsar Ivan Terter (1279-1292) spent the rest of his life and was buried in the monastery. Another impressive church, the so-called Buried-Under Church, is to be found in the Letters place. Despite its name and the raids of natural forces, the frescoes of this church still have high quality. One of the church donors was Tsar Ivan Assen Second, who loved to visit the place and spend treasured moments of solitude. This is evidenced by the portrait of the tsar, found in the Buried-Under Church, on which he holds a model replica of the church – a typical feature of church donor’s portraits. The third noteworthy church, called by the locals simply “The Church” is believed to have been founded by Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371). It also has valuable frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible in a locally-modified style of the Emperor Justinian’s Renaissance. Unfortunately, the monastery’s valuables still remain subject of repeated raids of treasure-hunters.

The monastery’s rock churches are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and are one of the 9 such objects in Bulgaria.