Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Period / Modern Times

Varna, historic town

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Varna, historic town

About the site

Corridor: Via Pontica
Country: Bulgaria, Varna
Type: Historic Town
Epoch: 20th Century, Modern Times, Middle Ages, Antiquity
World Heritage:
20th CenturyModern TimesMiddle AgesAntiquityHistoric Town

Varna is the third biggest city in Bulgaria. It is situated on the shore of the Black Sea in Northern Bulgaria at the Varna Bay.
Varna is one of the most ancient cities in Bulgaria. Its history can be traced back to the prehistoric times when different settlements at the shores of Varna Lake existed. In 1972 archaeologists discovered the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis and the Varna gold treasure dated from the 5th millennium BC. It is thought to be the oldest wrought gold in the world. Around 570 BC Greek colonists from Miletus in Asia Minor founded the city of Odessos on the same site. It has been a significant port since the Antiquity. In the Middle Ages it was a major trade centre having commercial and political contacts with Venice and Genoa. As such, Varna became a meeting point of many cultures and civilizations whose traces still can be seen today. Many Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Arabs and Jews lived there. Each nationality brought its own culture and religion and enriched the social pattern of Varna. There used to be many Orthodox and Catholic churches, mosques and synagogues, some of which are still preserved.
The major landmark of Varna is the Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption. It was built by the Russian architect Maas in the beginning of the 20th century. The Cathedral is a stern stone building with five domes and a belfry and can be seen from allover the city.
A testimony of the prosperity and the wealth of ancient Odessos are the remains of the Roman Thermae in the old part of Varna. They were built around 2nd - 3rd century AD and are the largest thermae in Bulgaria, occupying area of ca. 7000 sq. m. Once they were the public centre of the town and a meeting point of the elite of Odessos.
In the vicinity of Varna one can see the medieval rock-hewn Aladzha Monastery. There the monks contemplated faith amidst the bountiful nature surrounding the monastery. In the chapel, hewn in the soft limestone, beautiful murals are still preserved.

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