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12 Day Archaeological Tour of Bulgaria, 2022

Option 1:

Archaeological tour led by licensed guide-driver. The guide will drive.

Small Group -the maximum group size is just 6 people

Tour Cost Per Person:

Group size:

Minimum 2 participants € 2 490 per person in double/twin room sharing

3- 4 participants € 2 050 per person in double/twin room sharing

5- 6 participants € 1 600 per person in double/twin room sharing

Single supplement: € 360

Single supplement applies for single travelers or for those travelling together who would prefer a single room.

Cost Inclusions:

♦ 11 nights accommodation at 3 stars hotels as per itinerary, buffet breakfast and taxes included. Hotel Odeon or similar in Plovdiv. Hotel Vereya in Stara Zagora. Hotel Odessos or similar in Varna. Hotel Gurko or similar in Veliko Tarnovo. Hotel Niky or similar in Sofia.

♦ English-speaking guide-driver throughout, salary, daily expenses, hotels included.The guide will drive.

♦ Transportation by comfortable air-conditioned vehicle, fuel, parking, taxes included.

♦ Museum and site visits as per itinerary, entrance fees included

♦ Comprehensive information package about Bulgaria. Map of Bulgaria.

Option 2:

Expert-led archaeological tour by professional English speaking archaeologist

Small Group -the maximum group size is just 6 people

All tours operated in comfortable vehicle with driver.

Tour Cost Per Person:

Group size:

Minimum 2 participants € 3 560 per person in double/twin room sharing

3- 4 participants € 2 800 per person in double/twin room sharing

5- 6 participants € 2 100 per person in double/twin room sharing

Single supplement: € 360

Single supplement applies for single travelers or for those travelling together who would prefer a single room.

Cost Inclusions:

♦ 11 nights accommodation at 3 stars hotels as per itinerary, buffet breakfast and taxes included.Hotel Odeon or similar in Plovdiv. Hotel Vereya in Stara Zagora. Hotel Odessos or similar in Varna. Hotel Gurko or similar in Veliko Tranovo. Hotel Niky or similar in Sofia.

♦ English-speaking Archaeologist throughout, salary, daily expenses, hotels included.

♦ Transportation by comfortable air-conditioned vehicle, driver’s salary, daily expenses, hotels, parking, included.

♦ Museum and site visits as per itinerary, entrance fees included.

♦ Comprehensive information package about Bulgaria. Map of Bulgaria.

 

2021 Dates Archaeological Tour of Bulgaria:

          Arrive Saturday, Depart Wednesday

         For other dates please contact us.

 

Itinerary: Plovdiv (3 nights) - Stara Zagora (1 night) - Varna (2 nights)-Veliko Tarnovo (2 nights)-Sofia (3 nights)

You will visit 6 outstanding UNESCO Sites:

The Thracian Kazanlak Tomb

Nessebar

Madara Rock Cut Relief

         The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtary

Boyana Church

Rila Monastery

Saturday, Day 1: Arrive Sofia airport. Direct transfer to Plovdiv. Check in your hotel for 3 nights.

Overnight in Plovdiv.

Sunday, Day 2: All Day in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is majestic!

Plovdiv is the World’s 6th oldest town. Bulgaria’s second biggest city treasures a history that goes back thousands of years, traces of which have survived to the present day. The Thracians founded Plovdiv during the Neolithic period in the 2nd millennium BC. The Old Plovdiv was built in the 18th-19th centuries as the centre of the Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Along steep cobblestone lanes, behind stone walls and iron-studded heavy oak gates, one could glimpse at verdure and flowers, surrounding the typical Plovdiv symmetrical houses with their painted facades, oriels and jetties and grid windows.

In the course of time, the territory of Plovdiv has revealed traces of all the main historical ages. The buildings have been raised up one above the other as if they have written an illustrated textbook on the development of construction materials and techniques – just sit in front of a wall, read the dates and try to reconstruct the events.

We will seesectors of the street system with colonnades, an Odeon, the Stadium partly reconstructed, sectors of the fortress walls repaired later by the Byzantines. We will see the late ancient peristylish residential building “Eirene”, having floor mosaics, one of the most worthy of notice buildings in ancient Philippopolis /Plovdiv/.

Djumaya Mosque built in 1423, is one of the oldest in Bulgaria. It was built on the place of the Bulgarian church “St. Petka”. "Djumaya” in Turkish means “Friday”; the day when services were held according to Moslem tradition. According to a very famous Turkish traveler Evlia Chelebi, who crossed Bulgaria several times in the 16th century, there were more than 50 mosques in Plovdiv at that time. One could imagine what the significance of the town was then. The multi-unit plan of this mosque is considered to be a proto-type for the Ulu Cami style introduced during the Ottoman Beylicat Period. It was built by Shihabedin pasha, son of the patron of Plovdiv and beilerbei of Roumelia. The building has been restored twice: in 1785 and again in 1818 after being damaged in an earthquake. The mosque is decorated with murals by Nakshi Mustafa Zelebi dating from the 19th century. It was built as an imperial mosque by Murad II in about year 1423. It is said to be one of the three examples of the oldest type of the Ottoman worship buildings still preserved on the entire Balkan Peninsula.

Our city tour to include the fabulous Roman Theatre built during the time of Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century, it has 28 rows with tiers of marble seats, which can accommodate over 3 500 spectators.The stage rises about 3.5 m above the ground and covers 400 sq.m.The archaeological research was carried out in 1968-1979.

We will immerse in the majestic atmosphere of the Old Town with the spectacular architecture of the National Revival Period (18th – 19th century).This ancient city has astonishing historical and cultural heritage and an amazing Old Town, applying for UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. It was built in the 18th-19th centuries as the center of the Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Along steep cobblestone lanes, behind stone walls and iron-studded heavy oak gates, one glimpses at verdure and flowers, surrounding the typical Plovdiv symmetrical houses with their painted facades, oriels and jetties and grid windows. Every house here has its own atmosphere, its intimate world with carved ceiling and bright murals, window seats and fine furniture from Venice, Vienna and London.We will visit a house museum in the old town.

We will visit The Archaeology museum in Plovdiv. The Museum boasts one of the richest collections of 100 000 exhibits of artefacts related to the history of Plovdiv and its region. Plovdiv is the heir to one of the biggest and most famous ancient towns in the Balkan Penninsula - Philippopolis.

Overnight Plovdiv.

Monday, Day 3: One day Excursion to Hissarya and Kazanlak in The Rose Valley and The Valley of The Thracian Kings

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Plovdiv for Hissar, a late Roman spa town, where we will see the remains of the fortifications and baths.

Already during the second century AD, there were Roman baths here and at least one temple dedicated to the water nymphs. No doubt the healing properties of the water encouraged visitors to the region and accounts for its early prosperity. However, it is as a late Roman city that Hissar is best known. We do not know for certain the name of this ancient city but it is probably Diocletianopolis, founded by Emperor Diocletian c. AD 300.

After that continue scenic drive to Kazanlak in the Rose Valley and The Valley of The Thracian Kings.

The Kazanlak Valley is home of the exquisite Bulgarian rose oil, also known as “attar of roses”, a well renowned world center for rose oil production. The oil-yielding rose, Rosa Damascena, was brought to Bulgaria from India via Persia, Syria and Turkey. In Bulgaria, in the Kazanlak valley, situated between the Balkan Mountains and the Sredna Gora Mountains the rose found a second homeland. In the 19th century Rosa Damascena became the greatest wealth of the Kazanlak region and a symbol of Bulgaria.

However, this area achieved another important recognition as the Valley of the Thracian Kings, due to the numerous amazing archaeological excavations of the Thracian epoch.

In the 4th and 3rd centuries BC the valley of Kazanlak was within the borders of the Thracian kingdom of Odrysae, ruled by Seuthes III. It played a vital role in the historic development of Thrace in the 4th century and during the early Hellenic age. The Kazanlak Tomb, the Thracian town of Seuthopolis and the Maglizh Tomb, along with the 15 newly discovered tombs are an indisputable proof for the highly developed material and spiritual culture of the Thracians who resided in and near Kazanlak at that time. The Thracian ruler Sevt III sustained good diplomatic relations with Athens and strived to unite the several Thracian states. In his honor a magnificent temple was built, where numerous golden, silver and bronze objects, believed to be an integral part in the king’s life after death, were found. Around 282 BC the valley of Kazanlak was conquered by the Celts who built their capital Thile 12 kilometers away from Kazanlak. The Celts destroyed and set fire on Seuthopolis but 80 years later they were chased away by the Thracians.

The capital of the Kingdom of Odrisae, Seuthopolis, was built on the left shore of the Tundzha River, in the middle of the 4th century BC. It had a surface of around 5 hectares (around 12 acres) in an irregular pentagonal form. There were a king’s palace, a vast square, straight streets, sewage system for clean water and two entrance doors on the north and the south of the city. Solid stone walls and bastions with defensive towers kept the town from enemy intruders. At this place Seuthes III stamped seven types of coins. The Thracian noblemen maintained trade connections on a regular basis with Kabile and the lands near the White Sea by sailing on the Tundzha River. Meanwhile, they bought fine Greek commodities from the Greek emperions - marketplaces near the Black Sea. In the centre of the town there was a magnificent statue of Seuthes III made of bronze and put on a marble pedestal.

We visit the beautiful History Museum Iskra at Kazanlak housing the latest breathtaking archaeological discoveries from the Valley of the Thracian kings: we see the bronze head of Seuthes III , King of Odryssoi, the founder of Seuthopolis. We will see incredibly beautiful gold wreath and many other gold and silver artifacts from 4thc. B.C.-3rd c. BC.

We will visit the replica of The Kazanlak Thracian Tomb. It was the first cultural site in Bulgaria which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This mausoleum of 4th century B.C. was discovered in 1944. The style is typical of Thracian tombs from the 5th to 4th century B.C., with a vaulted entrance corridor and a chamber topped by a beehive dome. The tomb has fine reliefs and interesting early paintings. The dome frescoes paintings are the greatest treasure of the tomb. They are a masterpiece of Hellenistic art and depict the civil and military life of a Thracian noble who was buried there.

The tomb is located inside a protected building. Its replica is right next to it and is open to visitors.

We visit the Golyama Kosmatka tumulus.The temple–tomb of Seuthes III was revealed in 2004. The Golyamata Kosmatka tumulus is 20 m high and about 90 m in diameter. A head from a bronze life–size statue had been buried in a pit by the entrance of the tomb.

Then we see Ostrusha Tumulus. It is 20 m high. It was discovered in 1993. The temple with the burial tomb under the soil is dating from the mid 4th c. BC. Six chambers cover an area of 100 sq. m. A horse decorated with a set of silver appliqués on the harness has been buried in the chamber to the left of the entrance. The burial chamber is of a special interest. It has been cut in a monolith stone block more than 60 ton in weight (2,50 x 3,50 x 2,50 m). A burial bed has been shaped across the entrance, its legs like lion’s paws.

We visit the unique Shushmanetz Tomb, 4th c. B.C. It was found in August, 1996. It is a fascinating example of the Thracian architecture.

Drive back to Plovdiv. Overnight Plovdiv.

Tuesday, Day 4: Transfer Day: Plovdiv, en route visit Alexnadrovo Thracian Tomb-Stara Zagora

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Plovdiv for Stara Zagora. En route visit The Alexandrovo Thracian Tomb.

The Tomb of Alexandrovo, 4thc. BC is one of the largest facilities of the kind discovered so far. What makes it unique, however, is the mural paintings inside. Painting covers entirely the round and rectangular chambers and a small part of the corridor. Hunting and battle scenes, as well as scenes from a funeral feast alternate with monochromatic layers and those with ornamental decoration. Images in the first chamber are predominantly monochrome or ornamental. A horse-rider occupies the space above the entrance to the central room and a footman is opposing him, apparently in a fight.

Mural paintings in the round burial chamber outstand in diversity and richness. It is adorned with six horizontal zones in vertical sequence. Two of them have figural decoration. Best reserved is the belt zone displaying hunting scenes. Images of horsemen are particularly important because of their scientific value. The horsemen are dressed in tunics, some wear pants. They are armed with spears and swords. The forms of weapons add to the knowledge about Thracian weaponry and warfare.

The horse figures and extremely detailed detail harness are impressive are presented, which according to the colour feature gold, silver and bronze applications. Their positioning on, saddles and chest is essential for the interpretation of horse-riding sets already known. Labrys-shaped decorations (as a double ax) in decorate the space Over the horse heads.

Then continue drive north to Stara Zagora.

Arrive Stara Zagora.

We visit the extraordinary Neolithic Dwelling Museum in Stara Zagora.

During a rescue archaeological research in 1969 remains of a burned dwelling were found there. It is one of the best preserved and richest in inventory two-storey residential dwelling in Europe from the early Neolithic period (beginning of the VI millennium B.C.) It was preserved in situ in a special protection construction.

The size of the dwelling is 10 x 5.80 m and it was 7 m high. It was built from wooden stakes fixed in the ground, interwoven with rods. The construction was coated with a mixture of clay and straw.

There were two rooms on the first floor and one on the second. The dwelling was inhabited by 3 families. On the northern walls of the room there were the furnaces, which are the best preserved ones from the Neolithic period. Next to them there are stone hand mills for grinding grain and large ceramic vessels – granaries, where grain stocks were stored by the inhabitants of the house.In each of the rooms there are about 60 ceramic vessels with various shapes and decoration. They were scattered on the floor after the dwelling had been burnt down.

Three ceramic columns are also preserved on-site. In their top end they are branched out and resemble bull horns. These columns were cult sanctuaries where the inhabitants used to perform rituals. The furnace, bits of the stone hand mills, and other inventory, originally from the second floor of the dwelling, had fallen down on the first floor.Standing before the remains of this ancient Neolithic dwelling we are revealed the world of people who lived in this place 8 000 years ago.

In the basement of the museum there is an exhibition Prehistoric Art in Stara Zagora. The museum treasures wonderful masterpieces of pottery, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, ornaments and tools made by the creators of the first European civilization.

We visit the beautiful Regional Museum of History Stara Zagora- that keeps artifacts from prehistory archaeology, antique archaeology, medieval archaeology, Bulgaria 15th -19th century.

We see The Ancient Roman Forum Complex and late Antique Mosaics in Stara Zagora.

Overnight Stara Zagora.

Wednesday, Day 5. Transfer Day: Stara Zagora- en route visit Karanovo Tell- Nessebar, UNESCO Site- Varna

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Stara Zagora for Varna.

En route visit the Karanovo Tell one of the most important Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement mounds in Southeastern Europe. We will see also the Thracian chariot tomb.

The Karanovo tell, 6 millennium BC, is world-famous. There are very few prehistoric sites in Europe as important as Karanovo.The cultural layer of the Karanovo tell is 12, 45 m thick and consists of successive settlements from the Neolithic to the Bronze age.The archaeological excavations at Karanovo enabled the establishment of the Karanovo Chronological System and provided the basis for division into periods of the Neolithic, Copper Age and Early Bronze Age not only in Thrace but of South-East Europe as well. The earliest occupation of Karanovo date to the beginning of the 6th millenium BC.

Then we see The Thracian Chariot Tomb of a Thracian Aristocrat from 1st Century AD.The tomb and the four-wheeled chariot were discovered in the fall of 2008 including the remains of two horses and a dog.

In addition to have four wheels, which is a very rare archaeological find, the chariot is remarkable for the large size of its wheels – 1.2 meters in diameter. It also features well preserved bronze decoration.

All the finds are displayed in the tomb in their original spots.

Continue drive east to Nessebar on the Black Sea Coast.

En route visit Nessebar, UNESCO Site.

Nessebar, ancient Messambria, is a charming seaside town-museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is particularly beautiful both in its location on a headland by the sea and because of its many brightly painted 18th and 19th century traditional timber houses and cobbled streets. It is also famous for the impressive remains of fortifications and for the well preserved late Byzantine churches.

Nessebar is one of the oldest towns in Europe. It is the successor of an ancient Thracian settlement, founded in the Second millennium BC. In 510 BCE it became a Greek colony town by Dorian settlers and they called it Messambria, which was its original Thracian name. In the 7th - 8th century it was an important stronghold and a protected Byzantine naval base. In the 9th century it was annexed into the new Bulgarian Sate. Since the 11th century the Slav name Messebar or Nessebar has been used along with the original name Messambria. The peak of its development was during the reign of Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331 – 1371) when the town became one of the most important centers in the Bulgarian State.

As part of the Bulgarian State, when it enjoyed cultural prosperity during the 13th and 14th century, Nessebar was a town with more than 40 churches, which were built between the 11th and 14th century.

Typical of the mediaeval Nessebar churches are the intricate decorative elements, the blending of stone and brick with in-built colored glazed ceramic discs and four-leave rosettes.

We visit the fascinating Archaeology Museum in Nessebar.

We also visit The St. Stephan Church (The New Bishopric), built in 10th -11th c. that has wall paintings from 16th -17th centuries, which are very realistic and are among the most remarkable monuments of the Bulgarian artistic heritage. We visit the old town of Nessebar to view churches, walls, and some lovely 19th century timber houses. The National Revival houses, which lend Nessebar its special charm, were built during the 18th and 19th centuries. They are with stone basements, wooden staircases leading up to the living quarters which overhang the lower ground floor and are faced with beams to protect the building from the humid salty air.

Drive north to Varna.

Arrive Varna and Check in your hotel for 2 nights. Overnight Varna.

Thursday, Day 6: All day in Varna

Varna, Bulgaria’s third largest city and most important port on the Black Sea Coast, is dotted with ancient ruins, fishing villages, resorts and sandy beaches. A busy trading and cultural center, starting with sea-faring Greeks from the town of Milletus in the 6th century BC who founded their own colony which they named Odessos, it became a major port under the Romans and Slavs, trading with Constantinople, Venice and Dubrovnik. Varna got its present day name after the foundation of the Bulgarian State in 681.

The first residents of the area belonged to a very old (over 10 000 years) civilization. At that time the sea level was about 60 m lower than it is today. By the end of the Stone-Copper Age /5000–4000 BC/ new tribes came from the north and settled down in the area. They were more experienced in stock breeding and agriculture, and could use pewter and bronze. Local population grew in numbers; relations between neighboring tribes were established; requirements for beauty and esthetic appearance of objects, clothes, idols got more detailed and precise. It was the period of the Varna necropolis /4 600-4 200 BC/, discovered by local archaeologists in 1972 and unanimously recognized as world sensation. The necropolis includes hundreds of graves with exceptional golden decorations and objects that testify for the high level of cultural development and artistic achievements of the civilization on these lands. These artifacts have been classified by renowned international archaeologists and experts as ‘the oldest worked (hand-designed) gold in the world’ discovered so far: there have been unearthed over 2000 gold objects of 23.5 carat each with total weight of 6 kg (13.2 lb). Two large ceramic plates are also beyond our knowledge of this age- they are decorated with stylized geometrical pattern executed in golden paint. The archaeologists point out that the find of Varna Copper Age necropolis was as important as the discovery of Heinrich Schliemann at ancient Troy and that Varna necropolis is at least 1500 years older than Troy. Varna civilization was a highly developed civilization, the most ancient civilization of Europe which was 1 000 years older than the Mesopotamian and 1500 years older than the Egypt civilizations. That highly developed and mysterious civilization still keeps its sacred knowledge.

We visit the superb Varna Archaeology Museum that treasures the fabulous collection of the oldest Gold in the world- 4600-4200 BC and learn about the most ancient civilization in Europe.

We visit the renowned archaeological site of the remains of the 2ndcentury Roman Thermae (baths), which was the largest of that kind in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. It is the largest preserved Roman public building in Bulgaria,

Friday, Day 7: Transfer Day: Varna- Veliko Tarnovo. En route visit Madara Rock Cut Relief, UNESCO Site. En route visit The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtary, UNESCO Site.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Varna for Veliko Tarnovo.

En route visit The Madara Horse Rider, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Itis a relief cut into the rocks, a unique monument both for Bulgaria and for Europe, created in the 8th century. The relief is located in the vicinity of the town of Shumen, hewn out at a height of 23 m above the basis of a rocky formation. It depicts a triumphant ruler in a symbolic hunting scene. The horseman has spread a lion /symbolizes a powerful enemy/ with his lance. He is being followed by a dog /symbolizes his loyal people/, and led by a bird. The figures are almost of life-size and the scene covers some 40 sq meters.The figures are surrounded by inscriptions in Greek, telling about important events that happened in the period 705 - 831.

The sacred rocks of the Madara plateau and the caves inside them were a major spiritual center during the period of the First Bulgarian State (681-1085).

In 2008, this site was declared National Symbol of Bulgaria, based on the results of a national survey.

Continue drive north-west to The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtary, UNESCO Site.

The Sveshtari Tomb (4th - 3rd centuries BC), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, unanimously considered miracle of Thracian sepulchral architecture, was discovered below Ginina Mogila mound in 1982 during regular archaeological excavations.

Built of large limestone blocks, it consists of a ‘dromos’ (corridor) and three premises (chambers), each of which is covered by a separate vault. The decoration of the central (burial) chamber is exceptionally rich. Four different Doric and one Corinthian column support a frieze with triglyphs and metopes, between those there are ten female figures (caryatids) with uplifted arms and above them, in the lunette of the vault, is the picturesque scene of deification of the deceased ruler. A massive decorative stone door (naiskos) hid the burial bed from the eyes of the mortals.

A second humbler bed was designed for the beloved wife, who also followed the deceased in his afterlife, while his favorite horses were laid in the lateral chamber and in front of the entrance to the antechamber. Owing to its remarkable architecture and artistic decoration, in 1985 the Sveshtari tomb joined the world cultural and historic heritage under the protection of UNESCO.

A remarkable monument of Thracian art, perfect as architecture, it amazes both with its wealth of sculptural ornaments – the caryatides below the vault, rosettes, styled ox heads, garlands, colonnades, as well ritual of harmonization painted in vibrant colors.

Continue drive south-west to Veliko Tarnovo , arrive hotel and check in for two nights. Overnight Veliko Tarnovo.

Saturday, Day 8: All Day in Veliko Tarnovo:

Breakfast at the hotel.

The regal city of Veliko Tarnovo (70 000), with its famed archeological sites, was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185 - 1396), when Bulgaria was one of the largest states in Europe, until the Ottoman Empire captured it. The city has been at the center of many important historical events and was the birthplace of the first Bulgarian constitution. Perched on steep hills overlooking the Yantra River, the Old Town’s narrow, lantern-lit streets wind past ancient ruins and unique architecture.

We visit Tsarevets Hill - a natural inaccessible fortress perched on a steep hill where the Royal Palace and the Patriarch Church once stood.

Then we visit The St. St. Peter and Paul Church with very well preserved murals from the 13th, 15th and 16th c.

After that visit The Archaeological Museum in Veliko Tarnovo.

Drive to Nikkopolis Ad Istrum. According to some research the town was established in 102.

Nicopolis has been constructed according to Hippodamus’ system as most of the Roman towns; two main streets cardo maximus (N–S) and decumanus maximus (E–W) divide it in sectors as all the rest of the streets are parallel to them and cross at right angles. Four streets enclose an insula. The ancient world did not know the compass, and fixed the points according to the sun.

Drive back to Veliko Tarnovo.

Veliko Tarnovo is not only a mediaeval capital, it is also a National Revival city. The houses are perched one above the other on the steep slopes of the almost sheer banks of the Yantra River. The self-taught builder Master Kolyo Ficheto, the foremost exponent of Bulgarian National Revival architecture and construction in the 19th century, has bequeathed the city with many of his works. We walk along the Samovodene Market street and see small workshops where master goldsmiths, potters, carvers, weavers and pastry cooks keep busy with their crafts.

Overnight Veliko Tarnovo.

Sunday, Day 9: Transfer day Veliko Tarnovo- Sofia. En route visit Etura.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning visit the nearby village of Arbannasy, famous for its traditional architecture. We will visit the most beautifully decorated St Nativity Church. It was painted in 1597 and 1638. The Church is famous with its fascinating scene- Circle of Life.

Will visit also Konstantzalieva house.

Then depart Veliko Tarnovo for Sofia.

En route we will visit the ethnographic and architectural reserve of Etara, which is a beautiful museum-village with numerous artisan workshops. It is a unique open-air museum of traditional architecture and ethnography, reflecting the atmosphere of a typical Bulgarian town of the 18th -19th centuries.

Arrive in Sofia and check in your hotel for 3 nights.

Monday, Day 10: All Day in Sofia.

Breakfast at the hotel.

We will visit the National History Museum which covers the whole period from prehistory to the present day. At the museum we will see fabulous golden Thracian treasure.

Also, we will visit the 13th century Boyana Church, a remarkable UNESCO WorldHeritageSite. The murals of this famous church reflect both Byzantine and local traditions of the preceding two centuries. One of the portraits in the church is unanimously considered a genuine masterpiece of 13th century painting, created 200 years before the European renaissance.

We will visit The Basilica of "St. Sofia"(6th century AD) thatbuilt over the remains of several older churches from the time of the Roman Empire, which were destroyed during the invasions of Goths and Huns.It is one of the most valuable pieces of early Christian architecture in the Balkans. Will visit the ancient necropolis under the "St. Sofia" church. On the four underground levels below the basilica visitors can see 56 tombs and four churches, one of which dates back to the 4th century AD. You will seethe magnificent Byzantine mosaic floor of the fourth century with images of cypresses and pigeons.

Will visit St. George’s Rotunda (4th century), famous for its original structure and unique frescoes. Its majestic figures illustrate the development of Christian Painting over several centuries, making Rotunda one of the gems of Bulgarian and East European culture

Will visit the magnificent splendidly decorated Alexander Nevski Memorial Church built in the period 1904–1912 to the designs of the Russian architect Pomerantsev. This is the biggest Orthodox Church on the Balkans built in post-Byzantium style. It is considered a masterpiece of 20th century architecture. The interior is just as splendid in materials and craftsmanship: Italian marble, Brazilian onyx, African alabaster, frescoes and woodcarvings by the best Bulgarian and Russian artists of the time.

Sightseeing walking tour in downtown Sofia includes:

-The ancient Serdica Fortifications dating from the 3rd-5th century;

-The National Theatre designed by the architectural firm of Helmer & Felmer from Vienna; The style of the building is a mixture of the neo-Baroque and Secession style;

-The neo-Renaissance building of the Bulgarian Parliament /1884-1886/ designed by architect Konstantin Yovanovic;

-The Central Military Club, built in the same neo-Renaissance style

-The Sofia University, spectacular designed by the French architect Breansson

Overnight Sofia.

Tuesday, Day 11: One day excursion to Rila Monastery, UNESCO Site.

Breakfast at the hotel.

We will take one-day excursion to visit Rila Monastery,UNESCO World Heritage Site located 120 km (75 miles) south of Sofia in the Rila Mountains, which is an original national museum with a century-old history. The monastery dates back to the 10th century, but has been plundered and burned down several times. The present building was built in mid-19th century. Located in the gorgeous mountain scenery of the mountains, it is considered the highest achievement of Bulgarian monumental architecture of the National Revival period. Of particular interest are the Museum, and also the 1335 Hrelyo's Tower in the courtyard, which is actually the oldest preserved building, standing alongside the big five-dome church Assumption of the Holy Virgin, which has splendid frescos by some of Bulgaria’s finest artists of the time.

Drive back to Sofia. Overnight Sofia.

Wednesday, Day 12:

Breakfast at the hotel.

In the morning we visit the fabulous Archaeology Museum in Sofia that treasures breathtaking archaeology finds. The museum is housed in Buyuk Dzhamiya (The Large Mosque) – the oldest preserved building in Sofia from the age of the Ottoman Dominion, dating back to the end of the 15th century. The museum was opened for visitors in1905. The building Finds form the periods of the Paleolithic Age to the Middle Bronze Age are presented in the Prehistory Hall. Some of the most interesting exponents are those of the settlement mounds of Karanovo and Ezero. A large part of the exponents are related to the flourishing of Thrace in the 5th – 3rd century BC and the Odrysian Kingdom. The backbone of the exhibition in the Vault isthe world’s famous treasure- the Vulchitrun, Pleven region- 16th -13th c. BC. On the two floors of the Central Hall of the Museum are exhibited artifacts dating from the Late Bronze Age to the Late Middle Ages. They illustrate main periods of the history of a vast region of Southeastern Europe.

Transfer to Sofia airport. End of our service. Contact us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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