Bulgaria is a country with a varied history and a range of fascinating historic sites. They include the medieval fortresses of Tsarevets Castle and Belogradchik Fortress and the religious sites at Boyana and Chiprovtsi. Bulgaria also hosts spectacular burial sites, including the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak which dates to the 4th century BC.
Whether you’re planning a historically-informed trip in Bulgaria or interested in the history of the country, take a look at the 10 best historic sites in Bulgaria that we’ve collected below.
Perperikon was an important Thracian sanctuary which became a Roman town around the 1st century BC. It was later the site of a medieval fortress.
The settlement was expanded under the Romans, who developed Perperikon into a larger settlement with an acropolis and palaces. The remains of these structures have been excavated and can still be explored today.
The Eastern Mound is an archaeological site comprised of the grave site and chariot of an elite Thracian warrior. Dating back to the 1st century AD, the Eastern Mound was only discovered in 2008.Visitors can see the site remains in their original location.
The Thracian’s chariot is also on display, complete with an intact decoration. It is distinctive for having four intact wheels of unusual size.
Spread over 23 square kilometres and comprising a complex system of fortifications, Pliska was an impressive early medieval city. It acted as the main city of the First Bulgarian Empire from 681 AD until 893 AD, when the capital was moved to Preslav by Tsar Simeon I.
Visitors can tour Pliska’s remains, including some of its defences and a church known as the Great Basilica. There is also an on-site museum.
The Baba Vida Fortress is among the most well-preserved medieval castles in Bulgaria. Located in the northwest of the country, the fortress was first built in the 10th century atop the ruins of Roman Bononia, itself built in the 1st century AD on the remains of a Thracian settlement.
The fortress has been built and rebuilt on many occasions. Today, the restored site and museum has a main courtyard surrounded by an inner and outer wall, plus four towers.
Belogradchik Fortress is an impressively well-preserved fortification in Bulgaria. The Romans initially founded the fortress as a stronghold between the 1st and 3rd centuries. They were responsible for constructing the highest part of the fortress, known as the Citadel.
Over the centuries, Belogradchik Fortress has been used by a variety of occupiers, including the Ottomans. Today, Belogradchik Fortress is open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction.
The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a late 4th century BC burial site located in Bulgaria. It forms part of the ancient Thracian settlement of Seuthopolis. The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is perhaps best known for its incredibly well preserved examples of Thracian artwork, including wall frescoes and murals.
Discovered in the mid-20th century, the tomb site is one element of a larger Thracian necropolis which contains seven brick tombs.While access to the original tomb is limited, visitors can explore a recreation of the tomb nearby.
Tsarevets Castle in the Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo is a medieval fortress complex and once the centre of the Second Bulgarian Empire, which ruled the region between the 12th and 14th centuries AD.
First constructed on the site of an earlier fortress, by the late 12th century Tsarevets Castle had become the headquarters of Bulgarian forces. For the next two centuries, Tsarevets Castle housed the royal palaces and administration of the new regime. There are excellent views over the locality from the restored Baldwin’s Tower.
The Boyana Church in Sofia is famous for housing some of the most impressive medieval frescoes in Europe. The initial construction took place during the late 10th century as a private chapel of the Boyana fortress. The church complex was later expanded and the famous frescoes were added in 1259.
Boyana Church is a UNESCO world heritage historical site and is open to the public. The nearby Boyana Church Museum contains further information on the history of the complex. Visitors can buy a combined ticket to both sites.
The Chiprovtsi Monastery is a small monastic centre which lies about 5km from the town of Chiprovtsi. It is dedicated to St. John of Rila. The first building to be constructed on the site was probably built in the tenth century, during the First Bulgarian Empire. During this period, the area became increasingly Christianised.
The Chiprovtsi Monastery has since served as a centre of learning and religious study and remains a functioning monastery today. The monastery has been destroyed several times, with the worst destruction occurring after the failed Chiprovtsi Uprising. The current site was built in 1829.
Rozhen Monastery is a medieval monastery with breathtaking views of Bulgaria’s Pirin region. While much of Rozhen Monastery dates to the 18th century, there is evidence that it existed as early as the 890 AD.
Rozhen Monastery is perched on a mountain. In the 14th century, Rozhen Monastery was said to have been renowned for its school of calligraphy. One of the most famous aspects of Rozhen Monastery is its church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, also built in the Middle Ages.