About Varna Archaeological Museum
The Varna Archaeological Museum is a museum in the city of Varna on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. It houses over 100,000 items from a variety of historic periods, including the prehistoric, the Thracian, ancient Roman and Greek times, the medieval period and the Ottoman Empire.
History of Varna Archaeological Museum
The museum was founded on 3 June 1888 as part of the City Library. It is now situated in a Neo-Renaissance building by noted architect Petko Momchilov which was formerly Varna Girls’ School. In 1945, the museum became state property, and since 1993 the museum has occupied all of the same building which it has partly used since 1895.
The Varna Archaeological Museum is one of the most famous in Bulgaria, with three exhibition rooms alone dedicated to the celebrated Gold of Varna, excavated in 1972 and containing 6,000-year-old bangles, necklaces, and earrings said to be the oldest worked gold found anywhere in the world. The 2,000 square metre space also houses Roman surgical implements, Hellenistic tombstones and, touchingly, a marble plaque listing the names of the city’s school graduates for AD 221.
It is difficult to exaggerate the scale of the museum. Fifteen rooms are devoted to Antiquity and the Greco-Roman period. Four rooms are dedicated to the history of Varna during the Bulgarian kingdoms and the Middle Ages, and one room is dedicated to the icons during the Renewal period of the 19th century.
Varna Archaeological Museum today
The museum also manages two open-air archaeological sites, the large Roman baths in the city centre, and the medieval grotto of Aladzha Monastery at Golden Sands Nature Park.
Four other sites are also undergoing conservation and will soon also be managed by the museum: the episcopal Basilica on Khan Krum Street and basilica and monastery in Dzhanavara, both from the 4th-5th century; the 9th-10th century Theotokos monastery and scriptorium of the Preslav Literary School at Pchelina; and the Medieval fortified settlement of Kastritsi at Euxinograd.
There are also a range of other attractions that the museum offers, including a library, a children’s study museum, a gift shop, and a cafe. Its courtyard museum hosts the annual Varna Summer International Jazz Festival. Visiting the museum outside of peak hours is recommended to fully immerse yourself in the stunning range of exhibits that it has on offer.
Getting to Varna Archaeological Museum
The museum is a 15 minute walk from the centre of Varna. The city itself is renowned for its bar-lined waterfront promenade which fronts the 19th century Primorski Park. A truly historic city, it makes for an unusual but fulfilling destination of choice for many tourists every year who can enjoy a range of cultural heritage sites.