(Ad) 10,000 years, six eras, authentic settlement replicas: In “Historical Park” near Varna, visitors become part of Bulgaria‘s history.
History can be dry or exciting. Depending on how it is told and presented. It is often hard to imagine because there were only fragments of rock left from once pompous buildings. Or because the text on the information boards is so small and boring that it cannot be read to the end. But from now on the case with Bulgaria‘s history is completely different.
"Historical Park" near Varna in Bulgaria is one of those projects that make history tangible and understandable. It could best be described as an oversized and interactive open-air museum that is currently under construction. And it has set itself the goal of presenting the diverse history of Bulgaria as accessible as possible.
"Historical Park": A project of the superlatives
“Historical Park” is a project of the superlatives: 50 Million Euro in weight spread on 13 hectares. Currently 100 employees onsite are working on high pressure to finish the mega construction project. In total, around 4,000 people work together, so that such a big project can be realized in time. The first phase is already available for visitors, the end of construction is 2022. Then the history of Bulgaria will be fully available.
In the future, a hotel, a horse riding center and a congress center will be added to the settlement replicas of the different eras. All in all, “Historical Park” will then cover around 50 hectares. The management even speaks of a “globally unique project” because in the future you can immerse yourself in 10,000 years of Bulgarian history. And it is versatile, turbulent and in some cases still little researched.
10,000 years history of Bulgaria
The basic idea of "Historical Park": to present the history of Bulgaria in one place. Numerous historical locations and everyday places, which are distributed across Bulgaria, are faithfully reproduced and are accessible in one place. Visitors can feel the flair of earlier eras without having to travel across the country.
In order to be able to offer buildings and scenes that are as authentic as possible, they work closely with historians and scientists. “We wanted that people are able to experience historical places and try things out,” explains Roman Georgiev, director of Historical Park.
The eras in "Historical Park"
The most important eras in Bulgaria's history are represented using six different replicas of settlements. Visitors can see how people lived at that time, what everyday objects they had, what clothes they wore or what they ate.
• Neolithic and Copper Age (6,000 to 3,000 BC)
• Thracian period (2,200 to 29 BC)
• Roman era (29 before to 5th century AD)
• Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian era (5th to 7th centuries)
• First Bulgarian Tsardom (7th to 11th centuries)
• Second Bulgarian Tsardom (1185 to 1396)
Excursion to the Neolithic and Copper Age (6,000 to 3,000 BC)
If people were hunters and gatherers before that, in this period they settled down. In "Historical Park" the simple houses of that time are faithfully reproduced. The walls were made of a mixture of earth, natural waste and hair.
Simple bedchamber. These first houses had only one room with a bed. The oldest woman was allowed to sleep in it. Everyone else lay down on the floor for a night's rest. Food was kept cool through a hole in the ground. And the "stove" was always under the window so that the smoke could be drawn from the open fireplace.
First hierarchies. People kept animals, grew cereals and made simple ceramics and later objects from copper. With the arrival of metal, hierarchies emerged for the first time. More goods could be produced faster, and the trader profession emerged. Classes developed, the first division into rich and poor emerged.
Excursion into the Thracian period (2,200 to 29 BC)
The Thracians settled in Bulgaria around 3,000 years before Christ. They consisted of more than 80 different tribes. Thrace later became a province in the Roman Empire. However, today comparatively little is known about the people of that time because they supposedly had no script.
Pleasure-loving fighters. In any case, they were fighters who liked to drink a lot of wine - preferably from gold goblets. Lush banquets with energy-providing dishes were also their trademark.
Thracian castle. In "Historical Park" an 800 kilogram marble door opens the entrance to the Thracian Palace. There you can see a replica of a Thracian king. He is armed with a spear and poses with a serious look between two throne chairs.
Luxury & gold. Replicas of Thracian gold treasures can be admired in another room. The originals are in the Archaeological Museum in Sofia. The bedchamber of the Thracian royal castle looks like a luxurious hotel: a wide wooden bed covered with fine animal fur.
Funerary art. A lot of space in „Historical park“ is also devoted to the phenomenon of the Thracian tombs. "The construction of the dome tombs started when the rulers were still alive," explains Roman Georgiev. They served as temples. When the ruler died, they were converted into a grave.
Black market. Today there are almost 10,000 such graves all over Bulgaria, each one is unique. Originals and replicas can be seen in the “Valley of the Thracian Kings”. It is now a big illegal business in Bulgaria to look for gold in abandoned graves and sell it on the black market.
Immerse yourself in the history of Bulgaria while in the future you actively experience it in “Historical Park”
"Historical Park" has the motto "actively experience". Today, for example, many people run their thumbs over their smartphones for hours to pass the time. There was no boredom problem in the past. It took countless hours of work alone to drill a hole in a stone.
It was tedious little work. In the end, the pierced stones were used to make elaborate amulets that were hung around the neck. They should give energy and offer protection. In "Historical Park" visitors can lend a hand and try out how these lucky charms were once made.
To actively experience the history of Bulgaria can also look like this: slip into historical robes, use a bow and arrow or experience a falcon show. Hunting with a falcon is a tradition in Bulgaria, but it is now prohibited.
During the demonstration you learn, among other things, that the Harris falcons fly at 386 kilometers per hour. If you dare, you can hold a falcon at your arm for a few minutes.
The culinary art of earlier eras is also represented in "Historical Park". On the table comes only what people have eaten in the eras depicted. Before one grew mainly tomatoes and cucumbers in the Balkans, radishes, herbs, beans and peas were cultivated.
Old grains such as spelt were ground with stones to bake bread from the flour. In the restaurant of "Historical Park", authentic food from past times is served in historical dishes. This is how the history of Bulgaria tastes like!
Visit „Historical park“ over your vacation in Bulgaria
“Historical Park” is around 33 kilometers or 40 minutes by car from the Black Sea coastal town of Varna. We propose the following three options for a vacation in Bulgaria in order to enjoy “Historical Park” for one or more days.
OPTION 1: Vacation on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast: Experience the sea, coast and history
Travel to Varna and visit the city with its impressive Orthodox cathedral, the promenade, the marine park and the many restaurants right on the beach. From here, it is only around 40 minutes by rental car to "Historical Park", where you can also stay over in the future. In addition to the golden and sunny beaches, the Bulgarian Black Sea coast also has the Kaliakra nature reserve, the Strandzha nature park, the historic UNESCO World Heritage town of Nessebar and smaller coastal towns such as Sozopol.
OPTION 2: Historical highlights in Bulgaria: cities, world heritage sites and Historical park
History fans can visit real historical sites as well as Historical park - an interesting combination. The original locations include Pliska, the first Bulgarian capital. Not far from it, you will be impressed by „The Madara rider“, a rock relief on a plaque from the early Middle Ages. Also worth seeing are the numerous Orthodox monasteries that played a central role in the resistance against the 500-year Ottoman rule. The many Thracian tombs are mystically calling you. One of them is an UNESCO World Heritage site, a replica can be visited near Kazanlak. Last but not least, historic cities like Veliko Tarnovo or Plovdiv should not be missing on the tour.
OPTION 3: Bulgaria road trip: A little bit of everything - from Sofia to the Black Sea
Bulgaria is around a third larger than Austria and is therefore ideal for a road trip. The best place to start is in the relaxed capital of Sofia, where you can admire a multifaceted architecture from different eras, from Roman excavations to Orthodox churches and communist buildings. After sightseeing in Sofia, the rental car road trip continues: Historically and architecturally interesting is the famous Rila Monastery, near which are located the seven Rila Lakes. Plovdiv is the European Capital of Culture 2019. It has a pretty old town with splendid merchant houses and a lively cultural scene. Veliko Tarnovo was once the capital of Bulgaria and impresses with its location between the river and hills, with the castle complex Tsarevets and the small old town. Finally, a few days off to the Black Sea coast to bathe on Varna‘s beaches and visit "Historical Park".
Author: Maria Kapeller