Best UNESCO heritage sites in Bulgaria

UNESCO world heritage sites are some of the most beautiful and culturally enriching places to see in the world.  There is strict criteria needed to qualify to even be nominated to the list, let alone to actually be added. Bulgaria has the honor of having 7 cultural sights as well as 2 natural sites.  The country, at this moment, has 13 sites on the tentative list, meaning in the near future they may have as many as 22 world heritage listings.

Boyana Church (1979 induction date)

This church located near the capitol of Bulgaria, Sophia, was built during the 10th century with additions and additional building being added several centuries later.  The paintings inside date back to 1259, making it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings in the world.  Unique to these sites, the Boyana Church is in perfect condition.

Rock Hewn Churches of Ivanovo (1979)

Located in North East Bulgaria this site is perhaps the most intriguing.  This complex of churches, cells, monasteries, and chapels are exactly where the hermits climbed out of their cells and churches in the 12th century.  The murals inside the churches are the real draw here and nicely show the craftsmanship of the medieval artists.

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak (1979)

The tomb, although just discovered in 1944, dates back to the 4th century BC!  It is part of a large necropolis  complete with a burial chamber and corridors all covered in paintings representing ancient burial techniques and culture from the era.  These are Bulgaria’s best kept masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

Madara Wider (1979)

In North East Bulgaria there is a carving dating back to AD705.  100 M high on a cliff, you will see the knight triumphing over a lion, just outside the small town of Madara.  Before the town converted to Christianity during the 9th century, this town was considered to be the most sacred place.

Srebarna Nature Reserve (1983)

The nature reserve is really a beautiful freshwater lake sitting across from the Danube.  It covers over 1400 acres and is quite bio diverse.  The area is a breeding ground for many different species of rare or endangered birds and a refuge for many more; white spoonbill, great egret, Dalmation pelican, glossy ibis, and purple heron.  This area is an important reminder of the types of wetlands that used to permeate the entire country.

Ancient City of Nessebar  (1983)

The 3000-year-old ruins located on a rocky outpost in the Black Sea date from the Hellenistic period. The site includes; the temple of Apollo, the Acropolis, an agora, and a fortified wall.  This was, by far, one of the most important towns of the Black Sea.

Rila Monastery (1983)

Rila Monastery was built in the 10th century, destroyed by fire in the 19th, and rebuilt, this monastery has been through a lot.  It was originally founded by St. John of Rila, then transformed into the monastery, but most important for its symbolism of the Slavic people’s identity.

Pirin National Park (1983)

Pirin is a beautiful national park covering over 98,000 acres in the mountains of Bulgaria.  The park consists of a beautiful landscape of pine forest, colorful glacial lakes, stunning waterfalls, caves and more.  The reasons this park has been included in the list is for meeting the criterion’s of exceptional beauty, being a good example of the evolution of flora in the area, and for it’s diverse geology, among other things.

Thracian Tomb of  Sveshtari (1985)

An interesting tomb with not only the statues and carvings but also their original colors still in tact makes it impressive to say the least. The tomb is located near Sveshtari and dates back to the 3rd century BC.  This tomb is unique in terms of culture, architecture, and art. There is so much to see in Bulgaria whether you plan to visit to enjoy skiing, beautiful mountains, architecture, culture or historically important sites.

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