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Thracian heritage & culture in the heart of Bulgaria

Thracian heritage & culture in the heart of Bulgaria

Day 1

Departure to Kazanlak. Visit the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak – vaulted brickwork “beehive” (tholos) tomb, part of a large Thracian necropolis situated near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis . The monument dates back to the 4th century BC and has been on the UNESCO protected World Heritage Site list since 1979. The murals are memorable for the splendid horses and especially for the gesture of farewell, in which the seated couple grasp each other’s wrists in a moment of tenderness and equality. The paintings are Bulgaria’s best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

After a short stop for lunch, departure to Shipka to visit the Thracian Tomb Goliama Kosmatka (Big Hairy). This is one of the most majestic and rich Thracian tombs with a completely preserved grave of a Thracian king, buried with his horse. It was built in the 5th century BC and consists of three chambers and a corridor with total length of 26 meters. The size of the tomb and the great value of the treasures, discovered there, prove the fact that an important Thracian ruler was buried here. Continue to Pavel Banya with a short stop at Shipka Cathedral. Accommodation at a hotel 4*. Overnight.

Day 2

Breakfast. Departure to Kalofer. Visit Hristo Botev House Museum and The school museum, which is the site of one of the most important schools in Bulgarian educational history. Free time for lunch and sightseeing. Continue to Hisarya. Accommodation at hotel 4*. Overnight.

Day 3

Breakfast. Departure to the Thracian cult complex by the village of Starosel. It is assumed that it is most probably the tomb of King Sitalkes (431-424 BC). In addition to the burial, this sanctuary was also location of common rituals related to the Thracian cult and beliefs. The tomb/temple consists of two chambers – the first is square and the one after it is round. An impressive rock stairway leads to them. Outside the sanctuary is surrounded by a supporting wall. The sanctuary itself is built on a natural mound and at this point constitutes the largest preserved Thracian royal complex with a temple/mausoleum in South Eastern Europe.Lunch at Starosel Winery – one of the best in Bulgaria with  wine tasting included. In the afternoon – departure to Plovdiv to visit the Old Town – a unique place of typical Bulgarian houses from Bulgarian National Revival. Continue to Chepelare. Accommodation at hotel 4*. Overnight.

Day 4

Breakfast. Departure to Perperikon – “The sacred city”. Consist of a palace, a fortress and an ancient Thracian sanctuary related to the cult towards the Thracian equivalence of the Greek god of wine and feasts Dionysius (known as Zagrey among the Thracians). According to some of the explorers of the site, this impressive religious centre was built some 3,500 years ago and was used for ritual sacrifices of animals and people, as well as for religious orgies of young men and women idolizing Zagrey. The center was of a great religious importance not only for the Thracians, but for the whole ancient world – Greeks, Persians, Macedonians. According to the ancient legends, that was the place where Alexander the Great and Augustus learned their fate .

Next in the program is Tatul – just outside the village of Tatul, you can find the ruins of a Thracian sanctuary dedicated to the legendary Thracian singer Orpheus and possibly the place where he was buried. The sanctuary (12th century BC) consists of two rock vaults carved in a large rock with a pyramid shape, eight steps and a niche for laying a ritual plate.

Continue to Zlatograd and accommodation. Overnight.

Day 5

Breakfast. A short walking tour of Zlatograd Etnographic Complex – a unique place with well-preserved houses. Departure to Ivailovgrad to visit Villa Armira – an impressive complex of residential and economic buildings on a territory of 2,200 m2. The residential area covers 978 m2, embracing a huge inner yard and surrounded by a closed gallery with columns and a swimming pool in the middle. The Villa is a luxurious estate, whose residential rooms are adorned with marble decorations, colored plaster and mosaic floors. In this respect, the Villa is indisputably the most magnificent of the similar buildings found so far in Roman Thrace. Furthermore, buildings with similar marble tiling are very rare in the provinces of the Roman Empire as a whole.

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