Second Bulgarian Kingdom

THE TYPES OF HOUSING FROM THE SECOND BULGARIAN KINGDOM

The nobles and the elites literally lived in an unreachable, fairy-tale world that even foreign travelers spoke of with admiration.

The poorest sections of the population – the peasants, serfs, modest town craftsmen and laborers lived in semi- dugouts in the ground called “zemlianki”. They were covered with straw and reeds, consisting of only one room and a small living space. The walls of the dugouts were made up of intertwined branches plastered with mud (wattle and daub), which barely stopped humidity and cold. The total thickness of the walls ranged between 10 and 14 centimetres. The floor of the dugouts was made of clay and covered with dirt. Reed mats where laid on it. The dugouts were called hlevni (“barns”) or izba (“cellar”). For rural homes, the word hizha ("hut") was most commonly used.

The furnishings of the homes of the common people were very modest. This included the hearth, a few clay vessels, a sleeping bunk located in the longest part of the dugout, some rugs, an oil lamp, a bridal bottom drawer and a loom.

Although the homes of the poor were not the most aesthetic, they were always kept extremely clean. Many foreign travelers, as they passed through the Bulgarian lands, marveled at this contradiction. In the coldest winter months and days of the year, people would bring the livestock in their homes to keep it safe and provide more heat. In the cities, poor homes were densely crowded due to limited living space. There was a bit more space in the villages, but people did not follow any plan regarding construction or distribution.

The homes of the city dwellers had stone foundations upon which the visible part of the structure was built. The first storey was divided in one or two rooms, with a living space not exceeding 15 square meters. The walls on the first storey were made of wood, with the supporting structure smeared with mud. Sometimes the interior and exterior walls were entirely made of wooden boards, while the space between them was filled with soil. The apartments were heated by fireplaces.

The roofs of houses in cities were mostly made of thatching - as it was the most affordable and accessible. However, there were also roofs built with wooden boards, others with tiles. The ground floor usually housed craft workshops or livestock barns, built on the stone base.

Unlike the common folk, the boyars, noble citizens, important officials and civil servants of the state administration close to the rulers lived in luxurious estates. Many medieval sources and accounts mentioned the high palaces and rich houses of aristocrats living beyond the Balkans.

The houses of the nobles distinguished themselves by their size and colorful architecture. They were adorned with the finest and highest achievements of architecture and art of their time.

The facades of aristocratic homes were decorated with "different colours and patterns", enhanced with geometric shapes and metal ornaments. Their upper floors were divided by niches and arches.  The windows of the boyar dwellings were shaped in an interesting way: The windows were of a pale green, but blue, purple, yellow, green and red were also common. Sometimes the colour range took different shades. As a pinnacle of decoration and craftsmanship, various ornaments resembling wrought iron were incrustated into the front of the window panes. The four-leafed clover was the most common symbol found on them.

The most remarkable of aristocratic homes was the Palace of Kings of Tarnovo. Ominously towering over Tsarevets Hill, it was a real jewel.

The palace complex was conceived and built as a tight-knit cluster of residential and service premises, which were to provide a comfortable life for the king and his family. In its initial form, the building was already erected under the first rulers of the Asen dynasty, and it was subsequently rebuilt many times. The palace halls were also decorated with silk curtains and velvet drapes. The floors were lined with expensive and skillfully woven carpets, and tables filled with dishes and drinks served in vessels of gold, silver and richly decorated pottery.

 Many of the walls of the interior were painted with images of kings and saints. The throne room was also painted and adorned with unmatched talent.

The floors of the official rooms and living quarters were carefully shaped and covered with mosaics of white, light yellow and light pink marble, green serpentine and red porphyry. The mosaics depicted triangles, parallelepipeds but also crosses.

Everywhere drifted a pleasant smell of different incense, which surely strengthened the idea of the fairy tale world, a regal atmosphere in the palaces of houses.

We at the Historical Park strive to recreate the greatness of the glorious Bulgarian rulers and kings, to immerse you in the exciting adventure of the late Bulgarian Middle Ages. Apart from the construction of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom zone in the complex, every visitor will be able to stay in the specially designed guest houses and country inn. By combining modern techniques with the grace and beauty of medieval art from the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, we will make you fully experience the relaxation and pleasure of your stay with us, to feel like the great Bulgarian rulers and lords of old, whose splendour and power even overshadowed Constantinople.

3/5/2020