Thracian Tour in Bulgaria
Duration: 13 days / 12 nights
Price: per request
• Visits to 6 out of 7 Bulgarian sites, included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List – Boyana church, Rila Monastery, the Thracian tomb in Kazanlak, Nessebar, Madara Rider, the Thracian tomb in Sveshtari
• Getting acquainted with the Bulgarian history, the Thracian heritage, as well as the Roman, Hellenic and Byzantine influence over Bulgarian culture, architecture and art
• Visits to some of the most popular tourist sites in Bulgaria
Day 1: Arrival in Sofia
Arrival in Sofia.
Visit to Boyana church and the National Museum of History:
Boyana Church. It is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain and is probably the most remarkable monument of the Bulgarian medieval painting art. The wall-paintings date back from 13 century and are very precious and irrefutable contribution in the European art culture.
The National Museum of History. It is one of the largest history museum on the Balkans with 650 000 items and the largest archaeological and historical archive. The museum’s collections are its greatest treasure. They comprise of materials from Prehistoric ages, through Roman Age, Middle Ages and National Revival till modern history of Bulgaria and present days.
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 2: Sofia – Rila Monastery – Zemen Monastery – Sofia
Drive from Sofia to Rila Monastery
Visit of Rila Monastery and the monastery museum. The site is included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List.
It is located high in the marvelous Rila Mountain and is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria and one of the most remarkable monuments on the Balkan Peninsula. The monastery was founded in the X century by the Bulgarian monk St. John of Rila and was rebuilt in the XIII -XIV century. The mural paintings are remarkable – all of them work of masters from Samokov and Bansko Art Schools.
Drive from Rila Monastery to Zemen Monastery
The Zemen Monastery “Saint John the Evangelist” had been founded sometime during The First Bulgarian Empire (681-1018 CE).
The church has a cruciform dome and three apses. There are still a few elements left in the church that date to the 12th century. All of the church frescoes have been restored.
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 3: Sofia – Plovdiv
Sightseeing tour of the historical centre of Sofia including the largest Orthodox Church on the Balkan Peninsula – Alexander Nevski cathedral and other places of interest in the historic centre of Sofia.
The National Museum of Archaeology where we will see the biggest prehistoric treasure in Europe – this one from Valtchitran – is exhibited in its chambers, dated 3 200 years ago and containing 13 articles of pure gold of 12.5 kg of total weight. The numismatic collection is the richest one in Bulgaria consisting of thousands of coins some of which being unique.
The crypt of St. Al. Nevski cathedral – it has a collection of icons, where visitors can see many masterpieces of the iconic art paintings.
Time for lunch. Drive to Plovdiv
Sightseeing of the Old town of Plovdiv, during which you can see the Roman forum, the Roman stadium and the buildings of the well-preserved houses from the Revival Period. The city is one of the most ancient towns in Europe. Being almost a contemporary of Troy, Plovdiv is a town built upon layers of towns and a culture developed upon layers of cultures. It is a place where Thracian, Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Bulgarian Revival art meet.
Overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 4: Plovdiv – Bachkovo monastery – Perperikon – Plovdiv
Visit to Bachkovo Monastery complex – the idyllically-situated cloister is famous for the original Byzantine mural paintings on the charnel-house and for its nice frescoes (17-19 c.) in the refectory and in the three monastery churches.
Time for lunch. Drive to Perperikon
Visit to Thracian complex Perperikon. In the afternoon the group will travel to one of the most famous Thracian sites – the sanctuary of Perperikon. It is perched on a rocky peak at 470 ft above sea level guarded at its foot by the village of Gorna Krepost (High Castle). The oldest traces of active life in the complex date back from 10 – 7 th century BC. During that period a lot of monuments were hewn into the rocks – altar niches, tombs, etc. Some of those stone altars were used for animal and human oblations. The archaeologists suppose that Perperikon has been the ancient temple of Dionisius, just like the one in Delphy.
Overnight in Plovdiv
Day 5: Plovdiv – Starosel – Kazanlak
Today we will drive to the so called “Valley of the Thracian Kings” – famous for the number of remains from the Thracian civilization, especially the Thracian tombs.
Visit to Starosel Thracian tomb. It is located next to Starosel village. The Starosel tumulus is the largest known so far. The scientists suppose that in the tomb was buried a Thracian ruler. From the Greek architecture style of the tomb can be accepted that the complex presumably dates from the 4-5 centuries BC.
Transfer to Starosel – a village marked by the activities of the ancient Thracians. The wine was considered by them as a gift from the deities and they used it a sacred drink in their magical sanctuary rituals. Here the guests will enjoy a nice wine-tasting in a marvelous wine-tasting hall filled with magical atmosphere.
Transfer to the village of Skobelevo, where we will visit an active rose-distillery. The complex grows and cultivates over 100 kinds of roses, but mostly the famous oil-bearing rose “Damascena”. In the ethnographic exhibition of the complex we will see all steps of the production cycle the way they were being done in the past and continue with the modern ways. Our tour will end with a pleasant tasting of rose honey amidst the colourful rose garden.
Overnight in Kazanlak.
Day 6: Kazanlak – Stara Zagora – Nessebar
Visit to the copy of the Thracian tomb in Kazanlak town – dated back IV c. BC. The drawings all over the hemispherical tomb chamber are perfectly recreated and depict scenes from the life of the Thracian nobles and their servants.
Visit to Ostrusha Tomb. Тhe Ostrushka Burial Mound is located near the town of Shipka. In 1993, archeologists unearthed a cultic burial complex of great artistic and historical worth containing coins and other artifacts that date from the 4th century BCE.
Visit to the tomb of Tsar Sevt – Golyamata Kosmatka. The Tomb of the Thracian Tsar Sevt III was built in the second half of 5th century BC. A remarkable thing is the bronze head of the statue of Sevt III buried ritually in front of the façade, which is quite detailed. It is an important evidence of the Thracian Orphic rituals.
Drive to Stara Zagora. Time for lunch. Visits in Stara Zagora.
Visit to Neolithic Dwellings Museum (if interested)
The ancient forum complex – Augusta Trayana. The forum of the antique Roman town Augusta Trayana is an archaeological site in the central part of the town of Stara Zagora. The antique forum complex is one of the most monumental installations in the Roman town of Augusta Trayana. The most impressive element is the forum complex situated by the west town gate.
Drive to Nessebar for overnight.
Day 7: Nessebar
Visit to the Thracian Beehive Tomb in Pomorie. It is a remarkable monument of the ancient Thracian architecture. The tomb is built from stone and bricks under a grave level. It is dated back from III c. BC. The pillar in the middle of the tomb is hollow and at the same time it is holding the whole structure.
Back to Nessebar for sightseeing and leisure.
The city is picturesquely situated on a small island connected to the land by a 10-meter-wide and 300-meter-long strip of land. Between IV and XII centuries the Byzantine emperor was sending all the fallen into disgrace nobles on this semi-island. They and their descendants built themselves houses and churches (one church from each family). That is why at that time there were 40 churches in the town. Nowadays only 10 of them are preserved. At present this tiny town with its bow-windows hanging over the narrow alleys is part of UNESCO`s world cultural heritage.
Overnight in Nessebar.
Day 8: Nessebar – Kamchia – Varna
A boat trip along Kamchia river. During the boat trip along the river Kamchia the guests will enjoy the blossoming water-lilies, the buttercups and the overgrowth along the riversides. When the boat enters the very mouth of the river the guests can enjoy the sandy seaside and the numerous sand dunes.
Drive to Varna for visiting the cathedral, the Sea Garden and the Archaeological museum.
The Sea Garden is the emblem of Varna, situated 85ha along the seaside line. There is a sun-dial representing a flying swan at the entrance of the sea garden.
The Varna Archaeological Museum keeps more than 100 000 objects-monuments of past epochs from Varna, the Region and Northeast Bulgaria. The museum houses exhibits in four sections: Prehistory, Antiquity, Medieval Period and Icon-Painting from the Revival period.
Overnight in Varna.
Day 9:Varna – Devnya – Pliska – Madara – Shoumen
Visit to the museum of mosaics in Devnya.
The ancient building dates back to the time of Emperor Constantine I the Great – the end of the 3rd century – the beginning of the 4th century. It was an urban house (villa urbana) that took up the area of a whole quarter of the Roman town of Marcianopolis. Five of the rooms and the portico are covered in multi-coloured floor mosaics – some of the best examples of Roman mosaic art found on the territory of Bulgaria. The museum halls exhibits various materials related to the architecture of the building and the way of life of its residents.
Visit to National Archaeological reserve – Pliska – the first capital of Danubian Bulgaria. Here the Proto-Bulgarians laid the foundations of the Bulgarian state in 681.
Visit to the medieval rock relief – Madara rider. It is included in UNESCO World Heritage List and is a unique relief of a horseman symbolizing the power of the Bulgarian state from its khan period. It was hewn at 23 m. from the base of a vertical rock. In natural size are portrayed a horseman, a limped dog, which follows him, and a pierced with pike lion, which lies at the horse’s legs.
Visit to Tombul mosque in Shumen (mid. 18 century). It is the largest mosque in Bulgaria and among the largest on the Balkans. The interior has mural paintings of vegetable life and geometric figures and features a lot of inscriptions in Arabic and phrases from the Quran.
Overnight in Shoumen
Day 10: Shoumen – Sveshtari – Shoumen
Drive to Sboryanovo complex.
Visit of Sveshtari tomb. It is a Thracian-Hellenistic tomb from the first half of the 3rd century BC. The Getic ruler Drumihed was probably buried in this royal tomb. The construction, built of smooth-cut soft limestone blocks, consists of a passage and three square chambers. The blocks under the vault are also supported by ten 1.2 m high caryatids with raised arms. The tomb is absolutely authentic – no restoration works have been made. The tomb excavated at Sveshtari is not a solitary construction. 26 other tombs of various sizes have been preserved along a 2 km stripe. The whole region has been declared an archaeological reserve. The Thracian tomb of Sveshtari was included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
Overnight in Shoumen
Day 11: Shoumen – Veliko Tarnovo
Drive from Shoumen to Arbanassi and Veliko Tarnovo.
We will take a pleasant sightseeing walk in the village-museum Arbanassi. This nice small village is filled with the atmosphere of bygone times, onetime building architecture and past Bulgarian way of life. Visit to the Nativity church, which is the oldest church in Arbanassi.
At the end of our village tour we will become dear guests in a typical Arbanassi house. Here we will take a closer look at the way of life in a peasant house, the traditions and customs of the local people. We will learn how to prepare a traditional Bulgarian pastry called “Banitsa” from pastry sheets, eggs and cheese. The hospitable hosts will reveal for us the secrets of the home-made yoghurt. At the end we will of course help ourselves with our specialties.
In the afternoon we will take a walking tour of Veliko Tarnovo. The city is picturesquely situated on the steep banks of Yantra River – ochre-coloured houses, churches and narrow streets. Our walk includes the romantic “Street of Crafts”, where we will be able to see traditional Bulgarian crafts and works of art. Our city-tour continues with a visit to the remains from the Czar’s Palace (XIII– XIV century) on the Tsarevets Hill in the old part of the town. Presently the castle is able to tell its dramatic story in “light and sound”. This unique show can be organized in the evening upon request.
Overnight in Arbanassi or Veliko Tarnovo.
Day 12: Veliko Tarnovo – Troyan Monastery – Sofia
Visit to Troyan Monastery – one of the most beautiful and significant for the Bulgarian history monasteries. It is established in the 16 century and is remarkable for its architecture, wood-carvings and incredible frescoes of the monastery church, which were painted by Zahari Zograf – one of Bulgaria’s most famous mural painters from the Revival period. A great treasure of the monastery is also the miraculous icon of the three-handed Holy Virgin.
Continue to Sofia. On the way we will visit one of the most marvelous caves in Bulgaria – Saeva Dupka. The first hall of the cave is called the Kupena. Amidst the hall rises a huge stalactone, reminding the observers of a haystack and that is where the hall’s name comes from. The second hall – Srutishteto (the ruins) was formed during an earthquake. The hall is covered with stone pieces, some of them 3.2 m in height. In the cave there are also three other marvelous halls – Harmanat, Beliat zamak (the white castle) and Kosmosat (the space). The hall Harmanat has an exceptional acoustic. Many famous choirs have sung there.
Drive to Sofia. Overnight.
Day 13: Sofia – departure
Transfer to the airport for your flight.
Accommodation 12 overnights in 3* hotels according to the itinerary Board Bed and breakfast – 12 breakfasts Tour guide Licensed guide in English Entry fees Entry fees for the visits according to the program
Boat trip along Kamchia river
Tastings 1x wine tasting
1x tasting of rose honey
Transportation Comfortable car or minivan with AC (depending on the number of participants) for the whole trip starting/ending Sofia airport
The program and the services could be modified according to your requirements!
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