Nessebar was originally a Thracian settlement (Menebria) situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea with more than 3,000-year-old history. At the beginning of the 6th century BC, the city became a Greek colony. The city’s remains, which date mostly from the Hellenistic period, include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora and a wall from the Thracian fortifications. Among other monuments, the Stara Mitropolia Basilica and the fortress date from the Middle Ages, when this was one of the most important Byzantine towns on the west coast of the Black Sea. Wooden houses built in the 19th century are typical of the Black Sea architecture of the period. The Ancient city of Nessebar is a unique example of a synthesis of the centuries-old human activities in the sphere of culture; it is a location where numerous civilizations have left tangible traces in single homogeneous whole, which harmoniously fit in with nature. The town has served for over thousands of years as remarkable spiritual hearth of Christian culture.
Located in Sofia, Boyana Church consists of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th century by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two storey building to be erected next to it. The frescoes in this second church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings. The ensemble is completed by a third church, built at the beginning of the 19th century. This site is one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art. There are several layers of wall paintings in the interior from the 11th, 13th, 15-17th and 19th centuries which testify to the high level of wall painting during the different periods. The paintings with the most outstanding artistic value are those from 13th century. Whilst they interpret the Byzantine canon, the images have a special spiritual expressiveness and vitality and are painted in harmonious proportions.
The Madara Rider is carved into a 100-m-high cliff near the village of Madara in north-east Bulgaria. Representing the figure of a knight triumphing over a lion, Madara was the principal sacred place of the First Bulgarian Empire before Bulgaria’s conversion to Christianity in the 9th century. The inscriptions beside the sculpture tell of events that occurred between AD 705 and 801.The Madara Rider is a unique relief, an exceptional work of art, created during the first years of the formation of the Bulgarian State, at the beginning of the 8th century. It is the only relief of its kind, having no parallel in Europe. It has survived in its authentic state, with no alternation in the past or the present. It is outstanding not only as a work of Bulgarian sculpture, with its characteristically realist tendencies, but also as a piece of historical source material dating from the earliest years of the establishment of the Bulgarian state. The inscriptions around the relief are, in fact, a chronicle of important events concerning the reigns of very famous Khans: Tervel, Kormisos and Omurtag.
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation. In its complicated ten-century history the Rila monastery has been the hub of a strong spiritual and artistic influence over the Eastern Orthodox world during medieval times (11th-14th c.). Under Ottoman rule (1400-1878) the monastery influenced the development of the culture and the arts of all Christian nations within the Ottoman Empire. With its architecture, frescos etc. it represents a masterpiece of the creative genius of the Bulgarian people.
Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo
In the valley of the Roussenski Lom River, in north east Bulgaria, a complex of rock-hewn churches, chapels, monasteries and cells developed in the vicinity of the village of Ivanovo. This is where the first hermits had dug out their cells and churches during the 12th century. The 14th-century murals testify to the exceptional skill of the artists belonging to the Tarnovo School of painting.The frescos of the Ivanovo churches reveal an exceptional artistry and a remarkable artistic sensitivity for 14th century painting and Bulgarian medieval art; they are an important achievement in the Christian art of South-Eastern Europe.
Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari
Discovered in 1982 near the village of Sveshtari, this 3rd-century BC Thracian tomb reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings. The tomb has a unique architectural decor, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals. The 10 female figures carved in high relief on the walls of the central chamber and the decoration of the lunette in its vault are the only examples of this type found so far in the Thracian lands. It is a remarkable reminder of the culture of the Getes, a Thracian people who were in contact with the Hellenistic and Hyperborean worlds, according to ancient geographers. The Thracian Tomb near Sveshtari is an extremely rare and very well preserved monument of the sepulchral architecture containing remarkable elements in terms of their quality and style sculpture and painting. The Tomb is also remarkable for the fact that it represents local art, inspired by Hellenism, a rare case of an interrupted creative process which possesses specific characteristics.
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. The Thracian tomb of Kazanlak is a unique aesthetic and artistic work, a masterpiece of the Thracian creative spirit. This monument is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world. The exceptionally well preserved frescos and the original condition of the structure reveal the remarkable evolution and high level of culture and pictorial art in Hellenistic Thrace.
Srebarna Nature Reserve
The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a freshwater lake adjacent to the Danube and extending over 600 ha. It is the breeding ground of almost 100 species of birds, many of which are rare or endangered. Some 80 other bird species migrate and seek refuge there every winter. Among the most interesting bird species are the Dalmatian pelican, great egret, night heron, purple heron, glossy ibis and white spoonbill. Srebarna Nature Reserve protects a lake and wetland ecosystem of 638ha located near to the village of Srebarna on the west bank of the Danube River. The reserve includes the lake and the former agricultural lands north of the lake, a belt of forest plantations along the Danube, the island of Komluka and the aquatic area locked between the island and the riverbank.
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. The World Heritage property covers an area of around 40,000 ha in the Pirin Mountains, southwest Bulgaria, and overlaps with the undeveloped areas of Pirin National Park. The diverse limestone mountain landscapes of the property include over 70 glacial lakes and a range of glacial landforms, with many waterfalls, rocky screes and caves. Forests are dominated by conifers, and the higher areas harbour alpine meadows below the summits. The property includes a range of endemic and relict species that are representative of the Balkan Pleistocene flora.