Private Itinerary Archeology Tour Bulgaria

Revealing the secrets of Neolithic civilizations, the Thracians and the Romans

Take part in the archaeological process of discovering the ancient Roman Colony of Deultum for two days!

Bulgaria is a country with thousands of years of history and a cultural heritage that embraces ancient civilizations. Visitors will find much to interest them in the country’s history, culture, ethnography, religion, architecture and the arts. Unique archaeological sites abound throughout the country – ancient settlement mounds from the Neolithic age, Thracian sanctuaries and tombs, remains of Roman cities, Byzantine and Medieval fortresses, architectural reserves, ethnographic complexes, churches and monasteries, Tekkes (mosques), among many others.

Despite the fact that it occupies only 2% of Europe’s territory, about 40,000 historical monuments have been registered in Bulgaria (7 of which are included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage sites), 36 cultural reserves, 160 monasteries, and roughly 330 museums and galleries. This includes prehistoric finds, Thracian tombs, sites from the Greek Age, Roman fortresses, historical monuments from the time of the First and the Second Bulgarian Kingdoms, and architectural landmarks from the Age of Revival.

Day 1. SOFIA

Arriving in Sofia. Transfer from the airport to the hotel. Accommodation. Dinner. 

Day 2. SOFIA – STAROSEL – HISARYA – PLOVDIV (210 km)

Breakfast. Walking tour of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Sofia has been settled for many millennia. In honor of its hot springs, in the 8th century BC the Thracian tribes settled here gave the city its first name – Serdika or Serdonpolis. In the 1st century BC Serdika was captured by the Romans who transformed it into a Roman city. During the reign of Emperor Marcus Ulpius Trajan (reign 98-117 CE), the city took his name, Ulpia Serdika, and became the administrative center of the region.

Visit the remains of the ancient fortress Serdika, the Rotunda of St. George (II century), considered the oldest building in Sofia, the Church of St. Sofia and theAleksandar Nevski Memorial Cathedral. Visit the Archaeological Institute and Museum at the Bulgarian Science Academy. The museum is housed in Buyuk Dzhamiya (The Large Mosque) – the oldest preserved building in Sofia from the age of the Ottoman Dominion, dating back to the end of the 15th century. The museum expositions are placed on two floors. A large part of the exponents in the main hall are related to the flourishing of Thrace in the 5th – 3rd century BC and the Odrysian Kingdom.

Continue to visit the  Thracian Temple Complex in the Chetinyovata Mogila, at a distance of 4 km from the village of Starosel, which was found in 2000. This is the oldest ever found royal Thracian complex with a mausoleum. It dates back to the end of 5th and the beginning of 4th century BC. Departure to Hisarya, one of the oldest and most popular balneological and spa centers in Bulgaria. The pleasant climate and the mineral waters of this location have proven to be attractive to settlers since ancient times. A prehistoric settlement existed in this place way back in the 5th century BC. The settlement’s heyday was during the Roman era. In 293 Emperor Diocletian declared it a town and this marked the beginning of the construction of massive fortification walls, public buildings, baths, streets, etc. It became the third biggest town in Thracia Province.

In terms of state of preservation and uniqueness of its fortification system, the Roman town of Diocletianopolis is among the top-ranked in Europe. Continue to Plovdiv. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 3. PLOVDIV – KARDZHALI (100 km)

Breakfast. Visit Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe – the beginning of its history dates back to 4,000 years BC. During the period of the Roman Empire, Plovdiv (at those times – Trimontium) was an important regional center. The city flourished with a large-scale construction of buildings, facilities and roads. Numerous well-preserved artifacts had remained from those times, such as cobble stoned streets, fortress walls, buildings, water supply and sewerage systems. Visit the Roman Stadium, the Ancient Roman Forum, the Antique Theater, the Eirene Late Antiquity Building, Hisar Kapiya.

Departure to visit Belintash - a unique rock formation, located in the Rhodope mountain, near village of Sini Vrah. It is believed that an ancient Thracian sanctuary of god Sabaziy – the god of the Thracian tribe Besi - existed there. Continue to Kardzhali to visit the Archaeological Complex Perperikon, one of the most ancient monumental megalithic structures, entirely carved into the rocks. Religious activity at the top of the cliff began in the 5th century BC. It is associated with the beliefs of the Copper Age people, who started the cult of the sun god. Here they established the first sanctuary and started leaving food containers for the gods. These religious rites continued through the entire Bronze Age (III-II millennium BC). The latest archaeological research show clearly that the temple of Dionysius was located exactly in Perperikon. According to the legends, two crucial prophecies were made from the altar of this temple. The first one predicted great conquest and glory for Alexander the Great, and the second, made a several centuries later, predetermined the power and strength for the first Roman Emperor – Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. Arrival in Kardzhali. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 4. KARDZHALI – IVAILOVGRAD – STARA ZAGORA (300 km)

Breakfast. Departure to village of Tatul to visit the Orpheus sanctuary.

It is assumed that the tomb is part of the religious complex, which underlies the idea of funerals out for public worship. It is believed that in ancient times here were also carried out astronomical observations. The complex comprises two sarcophagi, a rectangular bed for the main altar, and a three-metre-deep well. It dates back to the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 4th centuries BC. Evidence to that is provided by the clay vessels that were discovered in the region.

Continue to visit the Armira Villa near Ivailovgrad. The villa was luxurious, with remarkable design, magnificent marble decorations and original floor mosaics. It is one of the oldest and most precisely dated Roman villa complexes studied so far in Bulgaria and also the most luxurious private palace from the Roman period discovered on the territory of modern-day Bulgaria. Departure to visit the Ancient necropolis “The Great mound” near village of Svirachi. It is believed that "the Great Mound" was the tomb of the residents of Villa Armira. The location of the tombs, the method of construction and the objects found during excavations confirm the indisputable link between the two sites. Arrival in Stara Zagora. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner.

Day 5. STARA ZAGORA – KARANOVO – YAMBOL – BURGAS (180 km)

Breakfast. Visit the Regional History Museum in the city and the unique Neolithic Dwellings Museum. It exhibits the two best-preserved Neolithic dwellings in Europe that date back to the 6th millennium BC. The two dwellings were destroyed by sudden fire millennia ago and this is the main reason why they are so well preserved today.

Departure for visit Bulgaria's newest archaeological complex in the village ofKaranovo, consisting of a tomb of an Ancient Thrace aristocrat and displaying a uniquely preserved Thracian chariot that has been opened in 2010. In addition to have four wheels, which is a very rare archaeological find, the chariot is remarkable for the large size of its wheels – 1.2 meters in diameter. It also features well preserved bronze decoration. Departure to Yambol to visit the antique town of Kabile. The ancient city was established in the end of the 2nd millennium BC near a large cultural center at the height of Zaychi peak. During antiquity the town was an important economical and cultural center in South-east Thrace and Lower Tundzha. After it was conquered by the Romans, in the beginning of the 2nd century AD, Kabile was turned into one of the most important Roman camps in the Thracian province.

Arrival in Burgas. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 6 and Day 7. BURGAS – DEBELT – BURGAS (50 km)

Breakfast. Departure to village of Debelt and take part in the process of discovering the Roman Colony of Deultum. The name of the contemporary village of Debelt is a modification of the name of the antique town Deultum and the medieval Develt, the remains of which are located in the end of the village. The Roman Colony of Deultum was established here in the beginning of the 70s of the 1st century, during the ruling of emperor Tit Flavius Vespasian, by the veterans of the 8th Augustan Legion. This is the only colony of free Roman citizens on the present Bulgarian territory. In the following three centuries the town broadened and established itself as one of the richest towns in the province. During the ruling of Emperor Mark Aurelius (2nd century AD) it was protected by large fortified walls. The town structure is according to the Hippodamus system (a rectangular street network oriented according to the globe directions), with very good water supply and sewerage. Impressive baths with floor heating was found during archaeological excavations. It was built in the end of the 1st century and reconstructed during the following centuries to the end of the 3rd century. The building size, as well as the degree to which it is preserved, are impressive. 

Day 8. BURGAS – NESSEBAR – VARNA (140 km)

Breakfast. Departure to visit Nessebar - founded more than 3 000 years ago by the Thracians, Nessebar is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities of the entire Black Sea. In 1983 has been included in the list of sites protected by UNESCO. Valuable monuments from all stages of its long existence are preserved here: remnants of fortress walls from Roman times and the Middle Ages, old Byzantine and Bulgarian churches, antique XVIII and XIX century houses. The greatest treasure of the town are the numerous churches. Continue to Varna. Visit the Roman Baths. This is the largest Roman bath on the Balkan Peninsula – with an area of 7000 square meters. It is the forth in size in Europe – among the baths of Karakala and Diocletian in Rome and Trevira (Trier, Germany). It was used by the end of 3rd century. Visit the Varna Archaeological Museum that now holds over 100 000 various objects of the region's past epochs. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 9. VARNA – DEVNYA – RAZGRAD - SVESHTARI – VELIKO TARNOVO (330 km)

Breakfast. Departure to Devnya to visit the Museum of Mosaics. It is an a museum that is housed in a specially constructed building which purpose is to preserve the archaeological discoveries. A big Roman building with exquisite mosaics was discovered in this place during archaeological excavations carried out in 1976. The museum was constructed over some of the foundations of this building. Five of the rooms and the portico are covered in multi-coloured floor mosaics – some of the best examples of Roman mosaic art found on the territory of Bulgaria. Three of the mosaics are exhibited in situ in the rooms where they were discovered, while the others were moved and placed on a new bearing structure after undergoing certain preservation procedures and partial restoration.

Continue to visit Abritus Archaeological Reserve near Razgrad. The reserve spreads out on a territory of 1000 decares and is aimed to preserve the remains of the Roman town of Abritus. Abritus was established at the end of the 1st century AD as a Roman military camp built on the ruins of an ancient Thracian settlement and grew to become one of the biggest urban centres in Moesia Inferior – a Roman province that was situated in the northern part of modern-day Bulgaria. Visit the Sveshtarska Thracian Royal Tomb. The tomb decoration is within the spirit of the Hellenistic culture but it is transformed through the vision and beliefs of the Getae (a Thracian tribe). The Sveshtarska tomb is included in the list of global cultural inheritance of UNESCO of 1985. Arrival in Veliko Tarnovo. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 10. VELIKO TARNOVO – KAZANLAK (100 km)

Breakfast. Visit the Tzarevez Architectural and Museum Reserve - a medieval stronghold located on a hill with the same name. It served as the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary fortress and strongest bulwark from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces.

Departure to Kazanlak - the capital of the Roses valley. The region around Kazanlak has been inhabited for thousands of years, with traces of civilization going as far back as 2.000 BC. Visit the important Thracian Burial: in the 4th century BC, near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis and close to the city, a magnificent Thracian tomb was built. Consisting of a vaulted brickwork "beehive" tomb, it contains, among other things, painted murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Visit the Tomb of the Thracian Tsar Sevt III “Golyamata Kosmatka”. The Tomb was built in the second half of 5th century BC. The following items were found inside it – the golden crown of the ruler, a golden kilix (a wine glass), knee-pads and a helmet, applications for horse tackle, etc., which are presented in the historical museum of the town of Kazanlak. A remarkable thing is the bronze head of the statue of Sevt III buried ritually in front of the façade, which is quite detailed. It is an important evidence of the Thracian Orphic rituals. Visit the Historical Museum in the city which protects, examines and popularizes the entire historical heritage of the Kazanlak region, including all Thracian tombs from the Valley of the Thracian rulers. One of the most interesting halls in the museum is the New Treasury Hall, in which the newest golden, silver and bronze finds from the Thracian temple tombs in the region are exhibited. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 11\ KAZANLAK – KOPRIVSHTITSA – SOFIA (300 km)

Breakfast. Departure to the picturesque town of Koprivhstitsa. The istorical center of the city hosts some of the most beautiful historic houses throughout Bulgaria. Even today, there are over sixty of these houses, built between 1700 and 1800. Arrival in Sofia. Visit the National History Museum, located in the outskirts of the city. The main museum exhibition is presented in five halls: Prehistory, Ancient Thrace, and the Middle Ages – First (7th-11th century) and Second Bulgarian Empire (12th - 14th century), the Bulgarian lands in the 15th - 19th century and the Third Bulgarian Empire (1878 to the present day). Another hall of the museum presents the unique treasures from Thracian times. The museum also preserves the worldwide famous Panagursko, Rogozensko and Letnishko treasures along with the treasure, discovered near the village of Duvanlii. The many burial gifts, discovered during mound explorations across the country, can also be seen in the museum. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner. 

Day 12. SOFIA – departure

Breakfast. Transfer to the airport for departing flight.

Prices are on request

Price includes:

Accommodations Transportation Private guide Full board (3 meals per day - FB including mineral water) 1 folklore dinner Participation in archeological excavations on day 6 and 7 Entrance fees

Extra:

Airfare Gratuities Insurance Porterage Drinks

Suggested Hotels

SOFIA: Arena di Serdica 5* http://www.arenadiserdica.com/

PLOVDIV: Dedeman Trimonzium 4+* (or sim.) http://plovdiv.bgprincess.com/

KARJALI: Behi boutique 3* (or sim.) http://www.hotelbehi.com/en/

STARA ZAGORA: Vereya 4* (or sim.) http://www.hotel-vereya.com/

BURGAS: Mirage 4* (or sim.) http://www.mirage-bs.com/

VARNA: Panorama 4* (or sim.) www.panoramabg.com

VELIKO TARNOVO: Yantra 4* (or sim.) http://www.yantrabg.com/

KAZANLAK: Hotel Palace 3+* (or sim.) http://www.hotel-palas.com/

Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.