Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Country / Bulgaria


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About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road, Eastern Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Bulgaria, Kardzhali
Type: Ancient Site, Fortress
Epoch: Middle Ages, Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity, Fortresses
World Heritage:
Middle AgesAntiquityAntiquityFortressesAncient SiteFortress

Perching on a hill, the rock town Perperikon is a real miracle, cut by man. It is located in the Eastern Rhodopes, 15 km to the northeast of the present-day town of Kardzhali.
Archaeological survey proved the existence of religious activity on the rock hill even in the 5th millennium BC. In ancient times Perperikon was a huge rock without any vegetation. The worship of stone and the possibility to observe from there the God-sun attracted ancient people to the site. Thus our ancestors from the Stone-Copper Age founded the first sanctuary. At that time the temples there were ordinary huts with adobe walls.
With the improvement of metal tools the carving of the hard rock became possible. At the end of the Bronze Age (18th –12th centuries BC) was shaped a roughly hewed oval hall with a huge round altar in the centre. One hundred meters long way in the rocks was leading to the hall. On a special stage by the altar the priests performed their sacred rituals. They poured out wine and lighted fire on the sacrificial altar, and depending on the height of the fire predicted future. These rituals were typical for the cult of Dionysus, because of that it is assumed that his temple was situated right on Perperikon.
During the last millennium BC and the first centuries AD, the rock structures gradually developed into an entire whole city with fortification walls, palaces and other premises. It is assumed that most probably on that place was found the residence of the king of the Thracian tribe bessi. Huge quarters developed on the slopes to the north and south, a number of temples and civil buildings were built. Even today one could enter in almost entirely preserved houses through their original gates.
During the 1st-4th century the Romans add their own contribution to the development of Perperikon with their refined style of living. In 378 the town was destroyed by fire, but in the 5th – 6th century it was raised again from the ruins. With the conversion to Christianity, the rock city became an episcopal seat. The period between the 7th and 14th century was the new uplift of Perperikon. A proof of that are the discovered in the rock foothill regional centre of Ahridos and episcopal residence. At the end of the 14th century the fortress was attacked and destroyed and the ruins were forgotten.
Today the ancient glory of the stone town Perperikon is raised again. The impressive rock city shines white amidst the green of the Rhodopes.

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