It is the pearl of the Black Sea. The sea capital of Bulgaria. The 30-kilometer-long-beech invites a comparison with Florida or Cote d’Azure. The irresistible charm is to be sought in the coexistence of ancient, medieval, Revival-period and modern culture which don’t stand in each harmony. Varna has produced the earliest gold in human history, working of a mysterious people who inhabited the place 4000 years BC, long before the Thracians. It is the earliest prehistoric evidence that archeology knows of Indeed, the Varna necropolis made scholars revise their notions of the development of civilization. Varna was the cradle of many cultures and civilizations the beginnings of which are to be traced some 5000 years ago. Herodotus wrote that Greek colonists were attracted by the hospitable sea and settled here 2600 years ago. They found the a local Thracian settlement bearing the name Odessus which the Slavs renamed Varna in the 7th century AD. The historian Strabo is the earliest source of information about Odessus, as the city was called in his day. The proto-Bulgarians who arrived from the north in the spring of 681 defeated the armies of the Byzantine emperor Constintine IV Pogonatus at the mouth of the Danube and he pleaded for peace. The treaty was concluded in Varna. So it was in Varna that the newly founded Bulgarian state was recognized. Thus in addiction to everything else, this city is a holy Bulgarian place.
The Archeological Museum
The inauguration of the Varna Archaeological Museum and its further development is closely connected with the names of the two brothers Herman and Karel Skorpil, Czechs by origin, who came to help with the education and culture of their sister Slavonic nation following the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish Domination. In 1894 they permanently settled in Varna. On 12 December 1901, a group of socially active figures and teachers established the Varna Archaeological Society that for decades since has been the basic motivating power for interest and study in the history of Varna, Varna Region, and Northeast Bulgaria. The inauguration of an archaeological museum was a task of prime importance for the Society. On June 11, 1906 the first exhibition of the Museum was officially opened in a room of the Girls’ High School. Karel Skorpil was elected as director of the Museum and remained in that post till his death in 1944.
The Ethnographic Museum
The museum presents the rich variety in culture and style of life of the population in Varna region from the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. One of the most interesting exponents in the museum is the small ancient plough called “dyolmedzha”, used for ploughing of earth in the beginning of the 20th century. Vessels for storing of grain, as well as for preparing of bread are also exposed. The exposition on the second floor presents traditional national costumes, which give an idea about the demographic look of the Varna region. The people’s clothes in the settlements in the region differentiate with their great variety, due to the complex migration processes, which happened in the first decades and the end of the 19th century. Traditional costumes of each of the basic geographic groups in the region are presented here – local population and settlers from the Thracian region, Asia Minor and Macedonia. The traditional costumes for the customs – Christmas, Petlyovden, Lazarovden are also presented.
The National Maritime Museum
The first steps of the Maritime Museum were established as early as 1883 when the collection of old sea articles began in Ruse by the officers in the Danube fleet. The first public exposition of the Maritime Museum was in Varna and was established on 20 May 1923 due to the public organization called the Bulgarian Public Maritime Agreement.
In its expositions the museum presents maritime Bulgaria in its wholeness. The most important moments and processes of the naval activities of the Bulgarians, the construction of the maritime fleet, the participation of our seamen in the war between Serbia and Bulgaria (1885), the Balkan War (1912 – 1913), the First World War (1914 – 1918) and the Second World War (1939 – 1945) is presented on a relatively small area of about 400 square meters.
The museum visitors can see original ancient anchors and shop remnants, found on the bottom of the Black Sea; ship head decorations; uniforms of seamen and officers. Desk models show the diversity of the ship collection of the naval and the commercial fleet in various periods. Maritime flags, torpedoes, optical devices of lighthouses from the Bulgarian shores, medals, etc. are presented. Apparatuses and instruments show the complexity of the specifics of naval professions such as navigation and shipbuilding.
Vladislav Varnenchik – Park Museum
The park-museum „Vladislav Varnenchik” is a memorial complex, situated in the center of the battlefield, in the middle of an unique park on an area of 30 decares.
It is located at the western part of Varna at the place of the battlefield from 10.11.1444 , where the Polish- Hungarian King Vladislav Yagello lost his life.
In our museum exposition are displayed the unique in the country knight’s armour from that period.
In the exposition every visitor has the possibility to see :
– arms and equipment from XV century, found on the battlefield (helmets, cross-bows, swords, shields, spears, etc.)
– paintings, sculptures, prints and other works of art, dedicated to the battle of Varna
– flags, models, tickets and coats of arms
On our territory there can be seen two Thracian mounds where a Thracian tomb from IV c. BC is situated. In 1935 a token mausoleum of the perished 20-year-old King Vladislav Varnenchik is built above it. The museum is open to visitors in 1964 in honour of 520th anniversary from the battle of Varna between the Christian armies of the Polish- Hungarian King Vladislav III Yagello and the Turkish armies under command of sultan Murad II. In 1964 is raised a monument of Yanosh Hunyadi – commander-in-chief of the King Vladislav’s army, Transylvanian leader, regent of Hungaria from 1446. In 2004 the museum and the exposition are entirely modernized. The museum disposes with a hall for temporary exhibitions. Among the interesting exhibitions, presented in it to this moment, they are:
– “Historical medieval costumes”
– Exhibition- Printing of Varna’s graphic artist Borislav Kuzmanov
– “Poland in the epoch of the Yagellons ”(made in the Museum to the Polish army in Warsaw)
– The photo-exhibition “Knight’s skirmishes beside the fortress Varna” (photographed at the time of the recovery of the battle of Varna on 18th May 2008)
– The international exhibition “Warriors of freedom”, dedicated to the 130th anniversary from the Liberation of Bulgaria, etc.
A special hall in the museum building is dedicated to the commander-in-chief Yanosh Hunyadi.
In the Exhibition hall Petar Dimkov are exposed personal belongings, photographs, orders and documents about the life and the activity of “cosmic Bulgarian” whom today we call The Healer.
The museum park with an area of about 30 decares is afforested with an unique vegetation and predisposes for a wonderful short relaxation.
The park-museum “Vladislav Varnenchik” is a branch of the National Museum of Military history – Sofia.
The Roman Thermal Baths
Varna’s thermal baths are impressive proof of the prosperity, civic pride and high level of government of Roman Odessos. It can be assumed, from archeological evidence, that the baths were constructed during the reign of Antonius-Pius in the second century A.D.
They continued in till the end of the 3rd century or the beginning of the 4th century. An earthquake which devastated Varna and the surrounding district during the second half of the 5th century severely damaged the thermal baths. In particular, the roof seems to be fallen in. Soon the once impressive baths became simply a source of building materials as citizens of later-day Varna carried away bricks and tiles to use in the building of their own houses. Just as the memory of the baths began to fade from men’s minds, so gradually the traces of the baths began to disappear. A section of the baths which has largely survived the ravages of time was known to the people of Varna as the Roman tower. But let us return to the thermal baths’ period of glory and try to picture the baths as they were when Odessos was part of the Roman Empire. Excavations show that the baths covered an area of approximately 7000 square meters. The buildings were, for the most part 18 meters high. The symmetrical design of the baths resulted from the necessity of building separate, but identical, sections for men and women visitors. The baths were built about a meter below pavement level. Accordingly a short flight of several steps brought the visitor to the entrance halls or vestibules situated at either end of the communal hall, or palaestra. The plaestra was a hall of enormous size (60 meters long and 14 meters wide) where citizens of Odessos met before and after taking a bath and discussed local affairs, talked politics, did business or simply gossiped. Young people engaged in sport, their elders in gambling and games of chance.
From the entrance halls doors led to the changing rooms (called apodytheria), two vast rooms, 500 square meters in area. Here visitors after taking their bath, would recline on couches placed around the walls of the hall. Narrow doors leading out of the changing rooms gave access to the hot and cold baths. The cold baths, or the frigidaria, were two adjacent, rectangular halls situated between the changing rooms. In area they were 50 meters long and 10 meters wide. At the far end of which was a pool, 70 centimeters deep and filled with cold water. The hot water baths are the most important part of the establishment and occupy the whole length of the souther section of the baths. On either side of a large central room, with an yet unexcavated apse at its southern end, are three smaller rooms linked by doors and each of identical size (16 meters long and 9 meters wide). The outer rooms on each side were supplied with warm or tepid water and were therefore called tepidaria. The three central rooms contained the hot baths, or caldaria. If the Varna thermal baths conform to the general pattern of Roman baths, the apse in the central room will contain a vapor bath, called laconicum. Furnaces, situated at the wide southern gallery beyond the hot baths heated air which then accumulated in a hollow space beneath the floor of the baths. Hot air streamed into the bathroom through openings located beneath the southern wall of each room. These hollow spaces were given the name of hypocaustis.
Water was heated in a large copper vessels, also installed in the souther gallery. Heated to different temperatures, the water flowed through lead pipes, concealed behind the marble panelling of the walls, to the cold, warm and hot baths. The baths were supplied with water from a spring above the village of Vinitsa, to the north-east of Varna.The water was brought down to the baths through stone pipes, some of which can still be seen above the thick walls of the building. Dirty water ran down into 300 meter long network of tiled underground conduits, 70 centimeters to 2,5 meters high and 60 centimeters to 1 meter wide, and thence to the open sea. That the baths were expensively and opulently decorated is shown by the wealth of archeological finds made on the site. The bathrooms were panelled with white and coloured marble tiles and attractive glass mosaics. Marble and granite columns supporting huge architraves, balustrades and the statues of gods would be a feature of the interior architecture