Bulgaria's wonders on UNESCO list
Ten tangible sites and seven practices are under the protection of the global organisation
20 January, 2018
Ancient City of Nessebar
Surova folk feast
Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari
Despite its small size Bulgaria is well represented in the UNESCO World Heritage List with a total of 17 items. The collection includes 10 tangible sites, of which seven cultural and three natural, as well as seven practices on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The first Bulgarian sites were inscribed into the list back in 1979 and the latest one - in 2017.
A total of four sites were included in 1979 - Boyana Church, Madara Rider, Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo and Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, followed by Ancient City of Nessebar, Rila Monastery, Srebarna Nature Reserve and Pirin National Park in 1983. In 1985 a new site was added - the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari, which had been discovered just years earlier. It was not until 2007 that the centuries-old forests in The Balkan Range were inscribed as part of the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe.
The UNESCO list highlights the diverse heritage found on Bulgarian territory covering sites connected to the ancient population of the Balkans - Thracians; the Greco-Roman influence on our lands; the ancient history of Bulgarians as well as Bulgarian contributions to the Christian civilisation. The oldest cultural heritage sites on the Bulgarian list are the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak (4th century BC) and the Ancient City of Nessebar, founded in 6th-5th century BC. The Boyana Church of 13th-14th century is among the cultural calling cards of Bulgaria, while the Rila Monastery, which was originally established in the 10th century and whose current look represents its well-preserved 19th century version, is considered the spiritual heart of the country.
Especially intriguing is the Madara Rider hewn in the rocks of north-eastern Bulgaria, probably dating back to the 8th century. This is Europe's only early-Medieval relief preserved to this day and is comparable only to sites in the Near East and the Middle East.
Bulgaria's entries in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list fall under several different categories. The Bistritsa Babi, an example of archaic polyphony, dances and rituals from the Shoplouk region, became the first inscription in 2008. Then followed the Nestinarstvo (2009), an ancient pagan ritual of barefoot dancing on live coals; the tradition of carpet-making in Chiprovtsi (2014); the Surova folk feast in Pernik region (2015) and the Festival of folklore in Koprivshtitsa - a system of practices for heritage presentation and transmission (2016). Last year, the Bulgarian Chitalishte (Community Cultural Centre), practical experience in safeguarding the vitality of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Martenitsa, cultural practices associated with the 1st of March, were added to the list.
There are 15 more items on the so-called Tentative List, waiting for approval in order to be inscribed into the official list.