Top 10 Historical Sites in Bulgaria

by Alice

Bulgaria, a country with a rich and diverse history, is a treasure trove of historical sites that span centuries and civilizations. From ancient Thracian tombs to medieval fortresses and spiritual monasteries, Bulgaria offers a unique glimpse into the past. Here are the top 10 historical sites in Bulgaria that every history enthusiast should visit.

1. Rila Monastery

Nestled in the Rila Mountains, the Rila Monastery is one of Bulgaria’s most iconic landmarks. Founded in the 10th century by St. Ivan of Rila, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Bulgarian National Revival architecture. The monastery complex includes the main church, a tower, a museum, and living quarters for monks. The frescoes inside the main church are particularly noteworthy, showcasing exquisite artwork from the 14th to 19th centuries.


Rila Monastery has played a significant role in preserving Bulgarian culture and religion during the Ottoman period. The site is not only a religious center but also a symbol of Bulgarian identity and resilience. Visitors can explore the museum, which houses a rich collection of religious artifacts, manuscripts, and old prints.


2. Plovdiv Old Town

Plovdiv, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, boasts an impressive old town that reflects Bulgaria’s long and varied history. The Old Town of Plovdiv is a maze of cobblestone streets, traditional Bulgarian houses, and ancient ruins. Among its highlights is the Roman Theatre, built in the 1st century AD, which is still used today for concerts and performances.


Walking through Plovdiv Old Town, visitors will find the Ethnographic Museum, housed in a stunning 19th-century mansion, and the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis, partially excavated and visible in the city center. The town’s architecture, blending Roman, Byzantine, and Bulgarian Renaissance styles, provides a picturesque journey through time.

3. Boyana Church

Situated on the outskirts of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, Boyana Church is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that should not be missed. The church, dating back to the late 10th century, is renowned for its well-preserved medieval frescoes, which are among the most complete and representative examples of Eastern European medieval art.

The frescoes in Boyana Church, painted in 1259, depict various religious scenes and figures with remarkable realism and detail, offering insight into the artistic and cultural heritage of medieval Bulgaria. The church’s architecture, combining elements of Byzantine and Bulgarian styles, further adds to its historical significance.

4. Tsarevets Fortress

Perched on a hill overlooking the town of Veliko Tarnovo, Tsarevets Fortress is a symbol of Bulgaria’s medieval grandeur. The fortress served as the primary stronghold and residence of the Bulgarian tsars during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396). Today, it is one of the most visited historical sites in Bulgaria.

Visitors to Tsarevets can explore the extensive ruins, including the Patriarchal Cathedral, the royal palace, and the fortified walls. The fortress offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area, making it a popular spot for photography. Each summer, the Sound and Light Show, a spectacular audiovisual performance, recounts the history of the fortress and the city.

See Also: Can I Travel to St. Petersburg Without a Visa?

5. Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, located near the town of Kazanlak in central Bulgaria, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that provides a fascinating glimpse into the ancient Thracian civilization. Discovered in 1944, the tomb dates back to the 4th century BC and is part of a large necropolis.

The tomb is renowned for its beautiful frescoes, which depict scenes of Thracian burial rituals and everyday life. These paintings are some of the best-preserved examples of ancient Thracian art, offering valuable insights into the culture and beliefs of this enigmatic civilization. The tomb is a testament to the Thracians’ sophisticated artistry and craftsmanship.

6. Nessebar Old Town

Situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea coast, Nessebar Old Town is one of Bulgaria’s most enchanting historical sites. With a history that spans over 3,000 years, Nessebar is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea.” The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture and numerous churches.

Visitors to Nessebar can explore the ruins of ancient fortifications, Byzantine baths, and the Church of St. Sophia. The town’s narrow streets and traditional wooden houses create a charming atmosphere that transports visitors back in time. Nessebar’s strategic location and rich history make it a fascinating destination for history buffs.

7. Perperikon

Located in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, Perperikon is an ancient archaeological complex that dates back to the 5th millennium BC. This site is believed to have been a significant religious and political center for the Thracians. Excavations have revealed remains of a large palace, a fortress, and a sanctuary dedicated to the god Dionysus.

Perperikon’s dramatic location, atop a high rocky hill, offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The site’s history spans several periods, including Thracian, Roman, and Byzantine, making it a rich tapestry of cultural influences. Perperikon is one of Bulgaria’s most intriguing archaeological sites, attracting researchers and tourists alike.

8. Ivanovo Rock-Hewn Churches

The Ivanovo Rock-Hewn Churches, located near the town of Ivanovo in northeastern Bulgaria, are a complex of rock-cut churches, chapels, and monasteries. These structures, carved into the cliffs of the Rusenski Lom River valley, date back to the 12th century and are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The churches are renowned for their well-preserved frescoes, which depict various biblical scenes and saints. These paintings are significant examples of Bulgarian medieval art and provide insight into the religious practices and artistic achievements of the period. The remote and rugged location of the Ivanovo Rock-Hewn Churches adds to their mystique and appeal.

9. Ancient City of Sozopol

Sozopol, one of the oldest towns on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, boasts a rich history that dates back to the 6th century BC. Originally founded by Greek colonists, Sozopol has been an important cultural and trade center throughout the centuries. Today, it is a popular tourist destination known for its ancient ruins and charming old town.

Visitors to Sozopol can explore the Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts from the town’s Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The old town, with its narrow streets and traditional wooden houses, offers a glimpse into Sozopol’s past. The remains of the ancient city walls and the nearby island of St. Ivan, with its monastery ruins, are also worth visiting.

10. Madara Rider

The Madara Rider, also known as the Madara Horseman, is a remarkable rock relief carved into a cliff near the village of Madara in northeastern Bulgaria. Dating back to the early 8th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a unique monument of early medieval Bulgarian art and history.

The relief depicts a horseman, believed to represent a Bulgarian ruler, triumphantly slaying a lion. Accompanied by inscriptions in Greek, the Madara Rider is a powerful symbol of the early Bulgarian state and its cultural heritage. The site offers a captivating glimpse into Bulgaria’s past and is a testament to the artistic and political achievements of the early medieval period.


Bulgaria’s historical sites are a testament to the country’s rich and diverse heritage. From ancient Thracian tombs and medieval fortresses to Byzantine churches and Ottoman-era architecture, these sites offer a fascinating journey through Bulgaria’s history. Each of these top 10 historical sites provides a unique window into the past, showcasing the cultural and historical legacy of this remarkable country.

Exploring these sites not only deepens one’s understanding of Bulgaria’s history but also highlights the country’s significance in the broader context of European and world history. Whether you are an avid historian or a curious traveler, Bulgaria’s historical sites promise an enriching and unforgettable experience.



Funplacetotravel is a travel portal. The main columns include North America, Europe, Asia, Central America, South America, Africa, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023