CRAT1

The archaeological highlights of Bulgaria

Route: Sofia, Rila Monastery, Plovdiv, Bachkovo Monastery, Stara Zagora, Burgas, Sozopol, Pomorie,  Nesebar, Varna,  Madara,  Pliska, Veliki Preslav, Razgrad, Shumen, Sveshtari, Silistra, Ruse,  Svishtov, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanassi, Kazanlak, Hisarya, Koprivshtitsa, Sofia
10 days / 9 nights
Transport: Coach
Price from: T/A

The crucial location of the Bulgarian lands between Europe and Asia explains why they have been inhabited since ancient times and it should not come as a surprise that traces from the Thracian, Roman and the Ottoman civilizations that evolved, flourished and vanished with the centuries are being constantly discovered within the present territory of the country. The numerous caves in the mountainous parts of Bulgaria hide mysterious prehistoric drawings and archaic Thracian cult complexes while remains from fortified Roman settlements were discovered in the plains and the coastal regions. Among the outstanding Bulgarian Medival archeological sites are the preserved old capitals Veliko Turnovo, Pliska and Preslav which correspond to the importance of the Bulgarian state at the time. Following the footsteps of the ancients we will drift back in time and explore the abundant archaeological heritage of these lands in search for the roots of the present-day Bulgarian culture.

Day - by - day Itinerary:

Day 1: Welcome to Sofia!
Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival and escort you to the hotel. After getting your first impressions from the Bulgarian capital we will invite you to a welcome dinner where you will have the chance to get to know your fellow travellers who will share the amazing experience with us.
Overnight in Sofia. (D)

Day 2: The Rila Monastery & Plovdiv
The highlight of this morning will be the Rila Monastery - a true architectural masterpiece of its time fascinating with its distinguished works of art. The afternoon we will spend in Plovdiv - a city with rich cultural and artistic heritage.  Our guided tour will take us to the Old Quarter of Plovdiv famous for its spectacular Roman Theatre, the multitude of tiny art galleries and the authentic cobbled streets lined with Revival period houses.
Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L, D)

Day 3: The Bachkovo Monastery, The ancient city of Perperikon, The Alexandrovo Tomb, Stara Zagora
Our day starts with a trip to the Batchkovo Monastery - the second in size and importance monastery in Bulgaria founded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and impressive with its picturesque location and extensive icon collections. We will continue our trip towards the ancient Thracian city of Peperikon perched on a high plateau in the Eastern part of the Rodope Mountain. The extraordinary archaeological complex, Perperikon provides information regarding several eras and civilizations since according to the historians it served as a stone sanctuary of Dionysus, a god that both Thracians and Greeks revered. Our next stop today will be the Alexandrovo Thracian Tomb which contains priceless and unique frescoes, the bright colours of which have been stunningly preserved for almost 2,500 years. The images are significant not only for their artistic merit, but also because they reveal new information on styles of clothing, weaponry, social systems, and religious beliefs of the people who lived in Thrace shortly before the conquest of the territory by Alexander the Great and his father Phillip. We will spend the night in “the city of the lime trees and poets”  Stara Zagora where we will visit the remains of the Antique Roman Forum of Augusta Trayana and the well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre that hosts summertime concerts. 
Overnight in Stara Zagora. (B, L, D)

Day 4: Burgas, Sozopol, Pomorie, the Old Town of Nesebar,
Today we will head towards the Black Sea coast. Our first stop will be the village of Debelt where the Archaeological Reserve of Deutum is situated. The area was inhabited more than 2000 years ago and flourished as an important economic centre during the time of the Thracian civilization. After lunch, we will visit the charming Old town of Sozopol (Apollonia) established in 610 BC by the Greeks. It became a thriving maritime centre and important middlemen in the trade between Greeks and Thracians. The traders from Apollonia acquired copper, honey, grain, and wood from the local Thracian settlements and exchanged it for wine, salt, and textiles from Miletus, Athens, and the Isle of Rhodes. Next we will travel to will to Pomorie (Anchialos in Greek). The ancient village of Anchialo dates back to the 6th century BC. Its strategic location near important roads and the salt lake in its outskirts were key factors for the development of salt production and the town’s prosperity. Our last stop for today will be the charming peninsula of the Old Town of Nesebar which has existed as an important maritime centre for more than 9000 years and it is today a cultural monument enclosed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Overnight in Nesebar. (B, L, D)

Day 5: Varna, Pliska, The Madara National Reserve, Shumen
Our highlight this morning is the city of Varna, the most important Bulgarian port on the Black sea as well as a significant cultural and economical centre in North-East Bulgaria; hence it is dubbed “the Sea capital of the country”. Here we will visit the preserved remains of an ancient Roman thermal bath. Today we will leave the Black Sea coast and head towards the interior of the country starting with the town of Pliska, the first capital of the Bulgarian state, where Christianity was adopted in 865. Afterwards, we will pay a visit to the ancient and UNESCO classified Madara Horseman relief carved on the rock of a high plateau nearby the city of Shumen. The relief depicts a triumphant ruler in a symbolic hunting scene. According to the scientists it is older than the 8th century AD and represents a Thracian god. Our itinerary today takes us next to the country’s second capital Veliki Preslav preserved within the borders of a Historical and Archaeological reserve of national importance. In the late afternoon we take some time to visit Razgrad, a natural crossroad for important transport corridors between Central Europe, The Black Sea and Asia. Here we will explore The Abritus Archaeological Reserve which houses the ruins of an early middle age Bulgarian fortress. Tonight we will stay in Shumen where famous for its imposing Tombul Mosque - the biggest temple of its kind in Bulgaria and second in size on the Balkan Peninsula.
Overnight in Shumen. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Sveshtari, Silistra, Ruse
We start the day with a visit of the Archaeological Reserve Sborianovo near the town of Sveshtari, where we will explore the Thracian tomb from the 3rd century BC as a beautiful example of the fundamental structural principles of the Thracian cult buildings. The tomb is a remarkable reminder of the culture of the Getes, Thracian people who, according to the ancient geographers, were in contact with the Hellenistic and Hyperborean worlds.  After lunch on the bank of the river Danube,  we will visit the Roman tomb from the  4th  century AD near Silistra and the remains of the town’s South gate. Our last stop today will be Ruse also known as “the little Wien” for its remarkable early 20th century architecture. The city’s eventful history and economic development have always evolved around the river Danube that connected it to the important western European capitals.  Its Roman name was Sexaginta Prista, the Port of the Sixty Ships. According to the evidence produced by numerous excavations, Sexaginta Prista was the main base of the war ships in Emperor Trajanus’ campaign against the Dacians in the 2nd century AD.
Overnight in Ruse. (B, L, D)

Day 7: The Ivanovo Rock Monastery, Svishtov,  Nikopolis ad Istrum & Veliko Tarnovo
Our first stop today will be The Ivanovo Rock Monastery which consists of a network of small churches, chapels and cells hewn into the rocks of the picturesque canyon of the river Rusenski Lom, at a height of 32 meters above the ground. Afterwards we will travel to Svishtov to visit the nearby Archaeological Park “Novae”. En route to Veliko Tarnovo we will visit Nikopolis ad Istrum, an ancient roman city, constructed in the beginning of the 2nd century AC by the emperor Trayanus. Thanks to the archaeological excavations today we can see the fortified walls of the city, the main streets, many public buildings and dwellings. In the late afternoon we will travel to Veliko Tarnovo – the Capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396).
Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanassi, The Sokolski Monastery
Our day will start with a guided sightseeing tour which will take us to the significant landmarks of Veliko Tarnovo starting from the picturesque Tsarevets Fortress where we will learn about the bravery and pride in the history of the glorious Medieval capital. Next we will visit the nearby village of Arbanassi which used to be an important merchant and cultural centre during the Bulgarian Revival Period. Before we pass the Balkan Mountain Range we will travel to the Sokolski Monastery impressive with its architecture, the beautiful monumental fountain built by one of the most renowned Bulgarian self-taught master builders Kolio Fitcheto and the panoramic terrace providing splendid view towards the Balkan Mountain.
In the afternoon we will travel to Kazanlak.
Overnight in Kazanlak. (B, L, D)

Day 9: Kazanlak, Hisarya, Sofia
Kazanluk is known as the town of the Bulgarian Rose Damascene and the Capital of the Valley of the Thracian Kings. We will explore the ancient Thracian Tomb near the town to see some beautiful samples of Thracian art and learn more about their fascinating culture. Afterwards we will travel to the town of Hisarya popular with its healing mineral water springs and the remains from the Roman settlement that used to flourish in the area. Last but not least we will visit the exceptional Starosel Thracian Tomb near the village of Starosel, in central Bulgaria.  Archaeologists believe that the enormous monumental grave belonged to a Thracian ruler, possibly Sitakes I, the first king of a combined Thracian empire. Later, we will head to Sofia for the night.
Overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)

Day 10: The trip finishes after a guided tour of Sofia
We will dedicate our last day to the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Our guided tour will reveal the colourful blend of numerous ancient sites and modern city landmarks that shape the face of the city and create its vibrant character. At the foot of the Vitosha Mountain in the outskirts of Sofia we will visit the National History Museum and the UNESCO classified Boyana Church with its stunning 13th - century frescoes.

Today we will have to say “Goodbye” but with the promise to keep the beautiful memories we created together!(B, L)

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • The Bulgarian capital Sofia - a blend of ancient archaeological monuments and modern-day landmarks
  • The Rila Monastery - an architectural masterpiece of its time
  • The archaic Old Quarter (Trimontium) of the city of Plovdiv with its spectacular Roman amphitheatre
  • The Bachkovo monastery and its stunning frescoes
  • The unique Thracian Cult Complex at Perperikon
  • The Deutum Archaeological Reserve
  • The idyllic Old town of Sozopol
  • The ancient maritime centre Nesebar perched on a tiny peninsula in the Black sea
  • The Bulgarian Black Sea capital - Varna
  • The Aladzha Rock monastery
  • The mystic archaic relief of the Madara Horseman
  • The preserved remains of the former Bulgarian capitals Veliki Preslav and Pliska
  • The Abritus Archaeological Reserve
  • The Sborianovo Archaeological Reserve
  • The Ivanovo Rock Monastery with its maze of chapels hewn into the sheer rock
  • The city of Ruse dubbed “The little Wien”
  • The ancient Roman city Nikopolis ad Istrum
  • The beautiful Medieval capital of Bulgaria Veliko Tarnovo
  • The Valley of the Thracian Kings
  • The Starosel Thracian Complex

Route

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What Is Included

  • 10 days / 9 overnights
  • 9 breakfasts (B), 9 lunches (L), 9 dinners (D)
  • 7 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • 2 nights 3 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • Guided sightseeing tours of all visited cities and sights
  • Escorted services of an experienced guide in the requested language for the whole tour
  • Group Size: T/A
  • Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
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