Thracian Tomb in the ‘Shishmanets’ Sepulchral Tumulus

The Thracian tomb discovered in the Shishmanets sepulchral tumulus during the archaeological excavations in August 1996 is located about 0.5 kilometres to the south-west of the centre of the town of Shipka, Kazanlak District, in the central part of Bulgaria. Dating to the 4th century BC, it consists of a monumental tomb under a sepulchral hill landfill, and is built of blocks of porphiroid granite of unstable structure, which are tied with lead clamps. The tomb is made up of a dromos, antechamber and tomb chamber. It has been placed under interim protection as a cultural monument of the category ‘of national importance’, and the procedure for declaring it under full protection is about to be finalised.

Severe damage to the monument has been observed. The problems are mainly of a structural nature - the stone blocks of the dome of the antechamber are fractured, and fractures are also observable in the eastern part of the dome. About 30% of the lime-mortar coat has been preserved, but it is in a condition of failure due to the penetration of atmospheric humidity and the deposition of salts. It requires important consolidation measures - such as urgent constructive support, insulation of the tomb against the penetrating humidity and preservation of the coating - and a full program of restoration work and exposure of the tomb.

Thracian Tomb Discovered in ‘The Small Naked Tumulus’

This imposing tomb is a part of the necropolis, situated 0.5 kilometres to the south-west of the centre of the town of Shipka, Kazanlak District, in the central part of Bulgaria. It dates to the 4th century BC and was discovered in July 1996, during the archaeological excavations of one of the sepulchral hill landfills of the necropolis. The tomb is built of blocks of porphiroid granite of unstable structure. It consists of a square-planned tomb chamber, covered by a parabolic vault, antechamber and a large dromos. It is plastered by fine white mortar. The tomb was placed under interim protection as a cultural monument of the category ‘of national importance’ and, as with the previous example, the procedure for finally declaring it under protection is imminent.

Severe damage is easily observable - visible cracks run from the vault to the floor on the eastern and western walls of the chamber; in the upper part of the vault and in the antechamber parts of the plasters are detached, and segments have already fallen off; the pavement is damaged, and the walls of the dromos are ruined. Urgent consolidation measures are required, including critical structural support, total restoration work and exposure of the tomb, together with strengthening and conservation of the plasters, and reconstruction of the dromos.

Thracian Cemetery near the Village of Alexandrovo

As a result of archaeological research carried out in 2001, a Thracian Cemetery of exceptional cultural and historical value was discovered, which was immediately placed under legal protection. The Cemetery is oriented along an east-west axis, with its entrance to the east. It consists of a 9-metre long dromos, a portal - a rectangular chamber 1.85 metres wide and 1.2 metres long - and a round chamber with a 3.3 metre diameter and 3.3 metres in height.

The portal and the round chamber are constructed of precisely processed quadras with dry joints, with carefully polished and fitted stone-fronts. Despite some deformities, the structure is in a stable condition. On the floor, pieces of stone doors to the two premises can be seen. The dromos is built of roughly processed stones bearing traces of paint and is covered with large stone tiles, which are preserved. The small portal is shaped as a rectangular chamber covered with a false arch, which is coated and painted entirely. The round cemetery chamber is covered with a false dome and is also entirely painted.

The initial survey suggests that the murals are of exceptionally high quality in terms of their stylistic, iconographic and artistic character. Murals are preserved in the three premises, though in various degrees. In the dromos (in its preserved end) scarce remains of the coating and painting are preserved. The walls of the portal are covered with decoration of multiple colours (about 50% preserved), whereas the two lunettes under the vault have human and animal-figure compositions with the western one preserved in full: a fight between an equestrian and a foot soldier. The round chamber bears the richest decoration, which is structured in layers of various height from bottom to top: a figural frieze in a very poor condition (about 15% preserved) and an almost illegible monochromatic layer; a comparatively well preserved high footing in Pompeian red; a three-division eave; a second, almost fully preserved figural frieze depicting four hunting scenes and a layer of kimas. The dome itself is coloured in grey; the tile in the zenith also bears traces of colouring.

As a first step, urgent measures are required to stop the destructive processes observable in the painting layer at its base, and to implement a reliable and permanent protection for the cemetery from harmful atmospheric influences and ill-minded visitors (for the time being only provisory protection/security is provided). This needs to be followed by a program of systematic activities for research, preservation and exposure of the cemetery.

The Ancient Mediaeval Fortress of Perpericon

The Fortress of Perpericon is located 20 kilometres north-east of the town of Kudjali (Southern Bulgaria). This archaeological ensemble, which is currently being studied, is typical for its rich stratigraphy, with the earliest discovered strata dating to the Iron Age. The fortification, which was built in antiquity, had been continuously developed and reconstructed through the Middle Ages: documents from the 13th and 14th centuries mention it under the name of Hyperpericon.

The Fortress is located on a broad and not very high rocky hill, with the citadel erected on the summit. The site of the castle is immediately below, and the substructure is located on the lower flat terrace. In the valley, beneath the Fortress, the remains of a mediaeval monastery were discovered, which, according to existing data, had been an important religious-worship and military centre.

A full geodesic and photogrammetric documentation of the archaeological ensemble is currently in preparation. The protection of the monument requires the implementation of the following urgent measures:

  • completion of exploration, and documentation and publication of results;

  • emergency preservation works and the installation of protective covers;

  • preparation of a preservation and restoration plan to restore and stablise the gate approach and the surrounding area to facilitate exposure and public visitation.

This urgent work must then be followed by the implementation of a program to protect the monument.

The Rock Chapels at Ivanovo Village, ‘The Church’ and ‘The Ruined Church’ Sites

The set of Rock Chapels is located on the rock slopes on both sides of the Roussenski Lom river bank, near Ivanovo village, in the vicinity of Rousse in north-east Bulgaria. The set includes monasteries, churches, chapels and monks’ cells, situated in reworked natural cavities in carst rock massifs. Especially valuable are the wall paintings that have been preserved to a different extent in five of the churches. The ensemble dates back to the Middle Ages - 8th and 9th centuries - arising from a religious movement that was associated with a hermit and was widely spread at that time.

Throughout the ages the ensemble has suffered continuous damage under the destructive effect of the environment. The Rock Chapels near Ivanovo were declared a cultural monument of national importance and in 1979 were included on the World Heritage List (No. 45). Severe problems are evident at present. The wall paintings are partially damaged by the destructive effect of the environment and human wrongdoing, and through partial destruction of the rock massif.

The ‘church’ site (14th century) needs urgent measures to consolidate the rock massif in which the church is situated, as well as emergency measures to prevent the most aggressively harmful impacts. ‘the ruined church’ site (13th century) requires measures for consolidation of the rock massif in which it is situated and the total preservation and restoration of the wall paintings.

Madara Horseman (Madarski Konnik)

The Madara Horseman is a rock relief with adjacent chronological inscriptions, cut into the vertical steep slope of the plateau in the vicinity of Kaspichan town, north-east Bulgaria. It was created at the beginning of the 8th century. Until now it has been subject to constant damage from the action of the surrounding environment. The Madara Horseman was declared as a cultural monument of national importance and in 1979 was included on the World Heritage List (No 43).

Severe damage is evident, partly as a result of the continuous process of natural destruction. The site requires measures for consolidation of the rock massif on which the relief has been cut, as well as consolidation of the relief itself and the adjacent inscriptions. An important problem to be resolved involves finding the best possible technical solution to provide maximum protection of the relief from the direct influence of destructive agents.

Saint Dimitar Church in Boboshevo

The Saint Dimitar Church in Boboshevo monastery is an extremely precious representative of medieval architecture. It possesses the highest value - a monument of national importance - according to the Bulgarian criteria of listing. The building bears an enormous potential for cultural and social influence. The church is situated in a zone containing a high concentration of cultural monuments, forming a specific historical and artistic landscape.

The church was constructed during the last quarter of the 15th century. It has one nave, one round apse, and is covered by a semi-spheric vault. The wall paintings cover both the walls and the ceiling entirely, as well as the western façade. They are dated to 1488 and have extremely high value, which goes beyond national cultural boundaries and provokes the interest of many Balkan researchers, tourists and pilgrims.

The physical state of the monument today is desperate, which is the reason the spiritual and cultural values have been inaccessible to pilgrims and tourists for a long period of time. Although some attempts at consolidation were completed about 50 years ago, a late and inauthentic narthex and façades were added. The building is listed by the Bulgarian Ministry of culture as a monument in a threatened state. Just a few months ago urgent work to support the vault was undertaken.

The Preobrazhenski Monastery

The Preobrazhenski Monastery is located close to the town of Veliko Tarnovo, in the central part of North Bulgaria. The erection of the church dates to 1834. The Monastery presents an extremely valuable architectural and artistic ensemble of exceptional cultural and historical value, in recognition of which it has been declared a cultural monument of national importance.

The site has suffered severe damage - throughout the years the church has been partially destroyed, as a result of slides of the terrain over the Monastery in the 1970s and of rock-caving in the terrain below the monastery in 1992. It requires urgent consolidation measures, commencing with a need to strengthen and stabilise the terrain. Partial reconstruction of the destroyed features should also be carried out as soon as possible. The next step should be the total reconstruction of the church - architectural-construction as well as restoration of both the immovable decoration of the monument (the wall paintings) and the movable decoration (such as iconostasis and icons).

Bridge over the Yantra River

This bridge is situated over the Yantra River, on the road from Pleven via Byala to Rousse, 1 kilometre from Byala town, Rousse region, in north-east Bulgaria. The bridge is an engineering device of exclusive architectural-constructional properties and was declared a cultural monument of national importance.

The bridge was built in 1867 at the order of the Rousse vali Midhad Pasha by Master Nikola Fichev (Usta Kolyu Ficheto) - a self-educated constructor who built a number of buildings, churches and bridges. at the time it was constructed it reached a length of 275 metres, and incorporated fourteen domes with middle spans of 12 metres, thirteen pillars with water-cuts and alleviating niches and two abutments. It is constructed of hewn stone of locally found limestone and lime mortar.

Severe damage has occurred throughout the years - in 1897 there was a flood and eight domes in the middle part of the bridge (about 130 metres) were destroyed. In 1922/23 the bridge was reconstructed with steel concrete pillars and domes, but its original design was changed: the new part is of low aesthetic value. When a new bridge was constructed nearby, the track of the main road was diverted and the old bridge was closed to cars and is now used only by pedestrians. The preserved original parts - the eastern section with a length of 78 metres and the western section as long as 64 metres - are severely damaged; the stone coating and the plastic decoration of the original parts of the bridge are severely eroded.

It requires urgent measures for consolidation of the construction. The project design includes constructional strengthening and hydro-insulation protection of the original parts. In addition, the part of the bridge that was reconstructed in 1922/23 (a length of around 130 metres) has to be dismantled and reconstructed following the original design of the monument. The following stage should incorporate complete restoration work on the frontage and the sculpture elements forming the stone plastic of the original parts.

The Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in Razgrad

The Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in the town of Razgrad, north-eastern Bulgaria, was built in 1614. It is one of the most remarkable examples of Islamic architecture in Bulgarian territory, exhibiting high historical, architectural and artistic merits, which contributed to its being proclaimed a monument of national importance. The total built-up area of the mosque is 514 square metres. The surviving mural decoration dates to the 19th century.

During the 1970s a series of research projects were carried out to explain the archaeological substance, the features of the architecture and construction and the decoration system of the mosque. Initial preservation works have been carried out, but were discontinued due to the lack of finance. As a result of a national contest for the socialisation of the mosque and for the design of its adjacent site, a concept was formulated for the future of the monument as a multifunctional building, including its original religious function, and an overall protection programme was included in proposals for use of the site.

As the first and most urgent steps, the following measures need to be carried out:

  • reinforcement of the minaret;

  • general consolidation of the structure and prevention of the destructive processes (fissures) in the façade, resulting from seismic activity;

  • reconstruction of the portico (destroyed in 1970 due to its critical technical condition);

  • reconstruction of the decorative grids in the interior.

This should be followed by a comprehensive programme for the restoration, exposure and socialisation of the monument.

The Fetih Mehmed Mosque

The Fetih Mehmed Mosque in Kyustendil, south-western Bulgaria, was built in 1531. It is still functioning and is the property of the General Mufti Office of the Republic of Bulgaria. In recognition of its exceptional historical, architectural and artistic merits, the mosque was proclaimed a cultural monument of national importance.

The monument is in an extremely poor condition: there are considerable fissures in the two lateral arches of the portico and in the dome above the prayer hall resulting from seismic activity, vibrations from passing vehicles, atmospheric influences and deterioration of the bearing structure; some elements of the outer construction of the minaret (parapets, decking) are in a critical condition and present a risk to both pedestrian and motor traffic; the roof cover of the mosque is worn-out and considerable parts of it are missing.

Stabilising of the structural condition of the mosque is currently being undertaken using provisory means, and plans have been prepared for its overall preservation and restoration.

As a first step, the fulfilment of the following emergency measures is required:

  • re-cover the building in an appropriate manner in order to stop the access of atmospheric waters to its structural elements;

  • reinforce and safely secure the minaret, preserving as much as possible of its intact elements with a view to future restoration;

  • update and amend the existing plans for the reinforcement, preservation and restoration of the mosque.

As a next step, it is necessary to implement multidisciplinary activities for the overall restoration and exposure of this remarkable monument, which will guarantee its sustainable protection and effective socialisation.

The Synagogue in Vidin

The Synagogue in Vidin was built in the 19th century (its construction was completed in 1894) and it is prominent for its rich architecture in the neo-Romanesque style.

The building is in an exceptionally deplorable condition: without roof or windows and with progressive erosion processes affecting the brickwork. The monument needs urgent measures to prevent the ongoing destructive processes: structural reinforcement, consolidation of the erected structure, roofing and window replacement (pending the reconstruction of the missing leaded panels). Following this, it will be necessary to draw and implement plans for the overall preservation, restoration and socialisation of the building (possibly as a multifunctional cultural centre) in order for this remarkable monument to be actively integrated in the most prestigious part of the Danube city.

Klianti’s House

Klianti’s house is one of the oldest houses (1816) of the rich merchants in the ‘Ancient Plovdiv’ Reserve, and one of the most valuable from an architectural and artistic point of view. It has been declared a cultural monument of national importance. The house is a two-storey residential building with an entire built area of 584 square metres. In 1928, due to the regulation town-plan of Arch. Shnitter, part of the building was ‘cut’. The interior is famous for its rich architectural work with geometrical motives on the ceilings and with multicoloured surfaces, unique landscapes on the walls dating back to 1817, and a richly painted niche ‘French style’. The walls are decorated with monumental compositions with vegetation ornaments. Part of the original wall paintings and ceilings are preserved in situ, others are taken away and preserved.

The lath-and plaster constructions are in an extremely bad physical state - the whole lath-and-plaster skeleton is deteriorated, as are all floor trimmer joists, the roof construction, the woodwork and other features.

The House Of Alexandra Bayatova

The house of Alexandra Bayatova in the ‘Ancient Plovdiv’ Reserve, built in the 19th century, is a typical representative of one the main typological groups in the Bulgarian vernacular architecture - ‘the House of Plovdiv’. It has been declared a cultural monument of national importance.

The house is a two-storey building with a stone basement under part of it. The supporting system consists of solid external stonewalls and wooden columns - in the basement and in the ground floor - and of supporting walls of a wooden skeleton with a brick filling in the upper floor.

At present the building is in an extremely bad condition. As a result of the sinking of the walls, especially those with a wooden skeleton, some vertical and slanting cracks in the walls and serious deformations and declinations of the floor and roof constructions are being observed. The timber associated with all construction elements, including the roof construction, is in bad condition - the wood is affected by erosion due to woodworms, and parts of the wooden skeleton of the external walls are damaged.

ICOMOS Bulgaria


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