Day 12: Around Bulgaria in 14 days

We are now almost at the end of our journey. During that day we had to leave from Shumen to Madara then Pliska, Ovech and spend the night in Varna. Our tour this day seems long, but not at all. The weather was not with us, but nothing bothers us and nothing could prevent us from passing through these beautiful corners of Bulgaria, which carry with them a lot of history and beauty. We had no patience, so we had a quick snack and headed for Madara.


The Madara rider is located 20 km from the town of Shoumen. It is an incredible and well-preserved bas-relief of a rider on the right, followed by his hunting dog. Underneath the horse’s front legs is a pierced lion and an eagle is circling around. The bas-relief is surrounded by numerous inscriptions in Greek and symbolizes the victory over the enemy. It is believed to have been cut down in the 7th century, and today it continues to rise to 23 meters in height in the rocks.

The Madara Horseman is the only relief in Europe since the early Middle Ages. The monument is part of the Hundred National Tourist Sites and since 1979 has been included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage. There are many things to see in the reserve – the Grand Cave, the Rock Sanctuary, the Roman Villa, the Chapel of Saint Panteleimon, the Madara Fortress and of course the Madara Horseman. We were not able to see all these sights, because as I said the weather was bad and it was expected to rain at any moment. We only saw the Madara Horseman and the fortress. We got our tickets and our climb started.

Along the way there were plenty of signs for all the sights that I mentioned a little bit up.

After some pictures, I think we made some other video and decided to go up to the fort. A 386-step rocky staircase climbs the Madara Plateau. It leads to the Madara Fortress. As we were climbing we admired the beautiful view.

The Madara fortress was built during the First Bulgarian State. The function of the fortress was to guard the road to the capital Pliska. The fortress has a triangular shape and the enclosure is not supported by the rock. A quadrangular tower was erected in the northeast corner of the fortress and a gate was located between the two central pentagonal towers. There were three one-story buildings and a small church inside the fort.

After taking the photos, videos and capturing the beauty of this place, we left. We sat down to lunch at a nearby restaurant. There was a nest of swallows with two little ones. The mother kept bringing them something to eat. We tried to shoot them.


We headed to Pliska. We couldn’t look at it very well because it was already raining. It is very difficult for me to briefly tell the history of this magnificent city from our past. Pliska is the first Bulgarian capital founded by Khan Asparuh, probably on an old Slavic settlement. Pliska is the capital of Bulgaria until 893. Remains of monumental architectural sites are located on an area of ​​23 km2. The archeological museum shows the life of the population, its material and spiritual culture from the period VII-X century. Centennial archaeological excavations reveal the remains of the “outer” and “inner” city, the Throne Palace, the Small Palace, the pagan temple, the palace church, the water reservoir, baths, outbuildings and residential buildings, and 1.5 kilometers from the Eastern Gate – the foundations of an impressive cathedral Temple – The Great Basilica. The recovered remains are preserved and are essentially an open-air museum. The finds from the reserve shown in the museum exhibit represent the lifestyle, material and spiritual culture of the inhabitants of the old capital.

When we looked at everything, we headed to the Grand Basilica. The Great Basilica in Pliska is the first cathedral of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. It was built by Prince Boris in the second half of the 9th century. The monumental building consists of an entrance hall, main room and a courtyard with a colonnade. Its length, together with the hall, is 99m and its width – 29.5m. The building was built on two floors and was built of bricks. It struck me that, although the weather was bad, there were many visitors, which made me very happy.

Ovech – Provadia

Then we headed to the fortress of Ovech over the city of Provadia. The fortress has three entrances. The east is preserved in its original version with stone steps carved into the rock. It is convenient for visitors with their own transportation. We chose this entrance. The western entrance is accessible from the city by an original 111-spiral spiral staircase. The north entrance is the main fortress. In front of it is a bridge structure 150 m long, which connects the fortress with the adjacent Tabiy plateau. It is located on a ship-shaped plateau, oriented north-south. The eagle-sealed rings found in it suggest that this is the coat of arms of the fortress, though the Byzantines called it Provaton, the Sheep Fortress. On all sides, it is surrounded by rock wreaths over 25 meters high. The foundations of three medieval churches, one of which is metropolitan, are preserved in the fortress. Defense towers were rebuilt at two of the entrances to the fort. It had a water supply system, which included a 79-meter well, as well as cisterns in which cereals were stored.

 After parking in the small parking lot we climbed the stone steps, I think it took us about 10 minutes. The summit is very beautiful, because everywhere you look you can see the surrounding hills typical of the whole Provadian plateau. We headed to the gate, followed by the long wooden bridge. Marin passed me before, and I was so inspired by this view and wanted to make a clip on the bridge and never noticed that there was a gap under the boards. After that, when we had to go back, I was already scared to go. I loved this fortress so much and it is already one of my favorites.

I hope to go again soon. There are places where when you go and you don’t want to leave, this was one of those for me. Time began to press us and we had to go ahead as planned.


The last stop of our day was Varna. Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. We had booked a room at JUST rooms & wine. We liked it because the rooms were different from what we are used to. We walked around the main street, the sea garden and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin – built of carved stones, located in the very center of the city, on St. Cyril and Methodius Square. We had dinner at one of the restaurants on Main Street. Due to heavy rain, we were unable to take many pictures.

So ended day 12 for us. We went back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.

Marin is the person who organizes all trips – reservations, route selections and luggage preparations. He works actively in the IT, but even more actively likes to rest.

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