A Look at the History of Bulgaria

Literally located at the cross roads between Asia and Europe, Bulgaria has been and still is one of the most significant locations in the world. This cross road situation of this historically rich country has been its undoing on a number of times, when fierce clashes between groups straddling the two continents have taken place, but it is this same factor that has played to the advantage of this country, since peoples from the two continents have settled here. The fact that it is also an outlet to three seas; the Aegean Sea, the Black sea, and the Adriatic has also made it a treasure for rulers looking to rule over huge expanses of land.

Life in modern day Bulgaria can be traced back to the Mesolithic and Paleolithic times. Historians even put traces of human existence back to 44,000 B.C. This early existence has even been proven by the superb drawings located in ancient caves in the country. Flint tools used to labor in those times have also been found, and are believed to have been used by Homo sapiens, the forefather of the modern man.

The first civilization in the country appeared around 5000 B.C, but it was with the arrival of the Thracians in the Balkan Peninsula that heralded the start of a new order in the country, and in 500 B.C, they created the Odrysian Kingdom, which at the time was one of the most powerful in the world.

The oldest tribe to have lived in Bulgaria is the Thracians, and based on past history, they were also the second largest group in the Olden world. Tombs, frescos, and treasures are some of the items used to inform the culture and way of life, of this ancient people, and today if you visit Bulgaria, you can see the awesome frescoes in Kazanlak tomb, and treasures in Rogozen, Valchitran and Panagurishte. Famous Thracians who lived here included Orpheus the mythical singer, and Spartacus, who led one of the largest slaves uprising in world history.

The state of Bulgaria was started around 1300 years ago, in 681 A.D by Khan Asparuh and it was the basic ethnic structure in the Mediaeval Bulgarian State. In fact, the foundation of this kingdom was a unification of the Slavic tribes in the area, and the Thracian Nation, following the defeat of the Byzantine army in the great battle in Ongal.

It was also soon after this that Bulgaria became a Christian country around 865 when Khan Boris was ruler. It was also during this time, dubbed as The Golden Age that Bulgaria prospered, and magnificent temples, huge monasteries and schools were built. The capital, which was moved to Veliki Preslav from Pliska was so beautiful that it was comparable to Constantinople.

This prosperous reign however came to an end when Bulgaria fell under Byzantine dominance in 1018. In 1393, the new capital, which had again been moved to Veliko Tarnovo was captured by the Ottomans, and this followed one of the darkest periods in the country's history. Forced assimilation by the Ottomans could not break the Bulgarian spirit and this went on till March 3rd 1878 when the San Stefano Peace Treaty was signed effectively making Bulgaria an independent state. The unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia then took place in 1885, and this marked the start of the existence of the modern day Bulgaria.

Key Features of Bulgarian History
  • Bulgaria has developed two alphabets; Glagolitic (862) and Cyrillic (9th century). Cyrillic forms the basis of most languages in Eastern Europe today.
  • In its modern history, Bulgaria has never lost a flag that has been captured by enemy armies.
  • The existence of Bulgaria straddles 1332 years, beginning from 681 A.D.
  • Apart from the Byzantine and Frankish empires, Bulgaria formed one of the three largest empires in the world, and it straddled the White seas, the Black sea and the Mediterranean.
  • To send a message to the aliens, the folk song - Izlel e Delio Haidutin from Bulgaria was sent to deep space aboard the US's Voyager I since the folk song forms a part of the planet's finest cultural collections.

So, Bulgaria's rich and unique history has transformed it into an attractive tourist destination, where rich cultural monuments and archaeological marvels dot the landscape, making a visit to this country unforgettable.

Quick Facts

Population: 98th (7.4 mln)

Area: 105th (110,994 sq km)

Years in existence: 1332 years

Official Language: Bulgarian

Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN)

Capital: Sofia