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Current Name
Ancient Name
Odessos; Odessopolis; Odessitopolis
Medieval Name
History of the name

It is assumed that the city name – Odessos is neither of Greek, nor of Thracian, but of Pelasgian origin meaning approximately settlement near water, or by the water which perfectly corresponds to its location: both on sea- and lake shores. That name was accepted by the local Thracian population who settled in the area during the first half of 1st millennium BC. It has lately been preserved and kept by tradition by the Ionian Greek colonists from Miletus, who founded on same site their apoikia in the second quarter of 6th c. BC. The name Odessos was preserved during the entire Antiquity period until early 7th c. AD, however being sometimes called in late Antiquity Odessopolis/Odessitopolis. By the end of 7th c. the toponym Varna emerged in Early Medieval written sources, marking the area around the  ancient city (which, however by that time did not non exist any more), as well as the Varna lake and flowing into it the then deep river called now Provadiyska. Maybe the name of Varna was given also to the large Early Bulgarian settlement form 8th – 10th c., located at some 4 km West of the ancient city (now within the limits of modern Varna). On the ruines of ancient Odessos no new settlement was constructed after the establishing of First Bulgarian state (681- 971). At the end of 10th – beginning of 11th c., after the restoration of Byzantine power in the region a new town was erected over the ancient one but covering a much smaller area than the ruins of Odessos. The new town was named Varna and this name has been kept until today. 

Place :

Geopolitical Unit
Balkan peninsula, Western coast of Black Sea
Administrative subdivision
Varna Region, North-Eastern region
The city is located on the shore of the West part of Varna bay and partly on the North shore of Varna lake.
Foudation Date
The earliest traces of occupation on the territory of modern Varna have been dated back to the Mid-Chalcolithic Age: c. 4600-4400 BC. In a little necropolis gold artifacts of same period, the oldest ones in the world made by human hand have been discovered. It must be notted though that in the vicinity of the city, traces of Late Mesolythic human occupation of ca 10th-8th millennium BC have been discovered too. In Late Chalcolythic (c. 4400-4200 BC) two necropolises located within modern city there have been discovered. They belonged to settlements of same time situated on the North shore of Varna Lake, which by that time was in fact the estoire of a large river that flowed into the Black Sea. A large number of copper, gold, stone and bone artifacts, pottery, etc. discovered in graves of these Praehistoric cemeteries provided data about an intensive trade several Several other settlements form that period situated on both shores of Varna lake have been located (now submerged and investigated underwater). In a number of graves there have been found dozens of tools and impliments made of copper, stone, bone and animal horns, as well as pottery vessels, dress-and hair ornaments made of Mediterranean shells and gold jewellery made onsite. During the Early Bronze Age (end of 4th – first half of 3rd millennium BC) within the area around Varna lake and Varna bay (and on the Balkan peninsula as a whole), new ethnic groups, maybe Proto-Thracians appeared coming from the Northeasetrn steppes. These people, having a totally different cultureamd lifestyle were using bronze than copper tools. They founded several new settlements along the shores of Varna lake, within and near themodern city. Life flourished again in the region. Probably by mid-second millennium BC within the modern town limits, a settlement later called Odessos was established. It is now generally accepted that this name is of Pelasgian origin and means settlement near water or by the water. The Thracians who settled during the Early Iron Age at this site kept by tradition the same name. It was later transmitted to the migrated during the second quarter of 6th c. BC colonists: Ionian Greeks from Miletus who accepted it as well. Then – on the location of the existing little Thracian settlement near the bay – on a small cape jutting out in the sea (now demolished), the Ancient town of Odessos is founded, as an apoikia of Miletus. The city was populated by both Greek immigrants and local Thracians from the Krobyzoi tribe who inhabited a large area around. According to Pseudo Scymnos Odessos was founded by colonists from Miletus at the time when Media [n Empire] was ruled by King Astyages. Around it live Thracians of theKrobyzoi tribe. Therefore foundation may be dated c. 585-550 BC when this last king of the Median empire ruled in Asia Minor. Archaeological findings dated to the second quarter of the 6th c. BC from the city confirmed that statement. These are mainly imported painted Ionian ceramics, handmade Thracian pottery and more. In addition to its role as a port, the town grew as crafts center with production of ceramics and processing metals, stone carving, etc. which continued in Hellenistic, Roman and Late Antiquie periods. In AD 614, the ancient city was destroyed during an Avar- and Slavs invasion. The site remained unpopulated for several centuries and in early 11th c. over the ruins a much smaller town was re-established by the Byzantines, which was named Varna. This name has been kept through the over ten centuries that passed by various ethnic groups who settled in both the town and its surrounding area.
Current condition
Nowadays Varna is a major port, an industrial-, tourist-, scientific- and cultural center with population about 400 000 It is the third largest city in Bulgariaand is often called “the sea capital of the country”. It has well developed shipbuilding and ship repair industries, sea trade, producers of electric appliances, machinery, food and light industry. The city is center of agricultural and wine production, including for export as well. It has a harbor, an international airport, railway and bus stations, four universities, 15 museums, large number of hotels and restaurants, entertainment establishments, opera and three theaters, philharmonic orchestra, cinemas, a modern Festival- and Congress Center and a Sport- and Culture Center and many other institutions. The city is a Metropolitan See with over ten Eastern Orthodox churches from 17th c. to 20th c., as well as churches other Christian denominations, two synagogues and a mosque. Every year (starting with 1926 onward!) in summertime between May and September the city hosts the International Art Festival Varna Summer, within which framework are included folklore, theater, film and music festivals. In the city vicinity are located the world famous beach and spa resorts St. St. Constantine and Helena (c. 8 km from city center) and Golden Sands (some 18 km). The city is visited annually by hundreds of thousand tourists from the country and worldwide which rests on its long sandy beaches, while other are attending it on sea-cruises.

Although, the port facilities may have been occasionally used by Byzantine ships either for embarkment of troops during military campaigns or for sending delegations for discussion with Bulgarian rulers.

The earliest traces of human occupation have been discovered in the vicinity of the city: Late Mesolithic artifacts of ca 10th-8th millennium BC. 
On the territory of modern Varna, the oldest finds that came to ligh have been dated back to the Mid-Chalcolithic Age: c. 4600-4400 BC. In graves of a little necropolis investigated in the Western city outskirts, artifacts of that time came to light: pottery, stone- flintstone and bone tools, decorations of Mediterranean shells of same period have been discovered. There was also a necklace made of tinny gold beads: which has been proved to be the oldest ones in the world made by human hand. Two more necropolises of Late Chalcolithic (c. 4400-4200 BC located within modern city have been discovered. They belonged to settlements of same time situated on the North shore of Varna Lake, which by that time was in fact the estoire of a large river that flowed into the Black Sea. A large number of pottery and artifacts made of copper, flintstone, stone and bone, etc. were revealed in over seven hundred graves. The gold ornaments: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, dress decorations as well as scepters    weighting overall over 6 kg are still the largest amount of gold from Chalcolithic Age discovered so far in the world.
Sometime after 4400 BC due to sudden drastic climate change and raise of water levels on lake and sea shores, the settlements were flooded and its population left (as everywhere in present Bulgarian lands). They have moved probably somewhere Southward – in Asia Minor or even farther. For several centuries the region and the Eastern Balkan peninsula in general were deserted.
New ethnic groups, maybe Proto-Thracians appeared in- and around the area of modern Varna coming from the Northeasetrn steppes at the end of 4th – first half of 3rd millennium BC: i. e. during the Early Bronze Age. They settled again on the shores of Varna lake and around Varna bay and similar settlement were established inland on the Balkan peninsula as a whole. These people, having a totally different culture and lifestyle were using already bronze instead of copper tools. They founded along the shores of Varna lake Life flourished again in several new settlements in the area within- and near the modern city. Probably by mid-second millennium BC, a settlement later called Odessos was established on a little cape close the modern harbour. It is now generally accepted that this name is of Pelasgian origin and meaned settlement near water or by the water
Bronze artifacts and weapons found on the lake shore and in the hinterland, about 80 km west of Varna: copper ingots of Mycenaean period, indicated that these settlements had one or more ports, through which a reglar trade was carried with the Mediterranean world. Local people probably exported through the “port” food and agricultural products and imported raw metals, weapons and other rare goods from Mycenaean Greece.
It seems that the Thracians who settled during the Early Iron Age at the same site kept by tradition the namecontinuesly. Ionian Greeks from Miletus who accepted it as well. Later in 6th c. BC, on the location of the existing little Thracian settlement near the bay situated on a small cape jutting out in the sea (now demolished), the Ancient town of Odessos was founded, as an apoikia of Miletus. According to Pseudo Scymnos Odessos was founded by colonists from Miletus at the time when Media [n Empire] was ruled by King Astyages. Around it live Thracians of theKrobyzoi tribe. Therefore foundation may be dated c. 585-550 BC when this last king of the Median empire ruled in Asia Minor. Archaeological findings dated to the second quarter of the 6th c. BC from the city confirmed that statement. The city was populated by both Greek immigrants and local Thracians from the Krobyzoi tribe who inhabited a large area around. The name of Odessos was accepted by the Greek newcomers.
After the foundation of the Miletian apoikia, the town grew quickly as an important port for import of goods from Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. Local merchants resold these goods to the Thracian tribes that occupied the territory west  of Odessos and the interior of North Balkan peninsula: between Haemus (the Balkan mountains) and Danube river and even beyond. Import flourished especially since the end of 5th - and during 4th century BC. Ionian Greek dialect imported by the colonists from Miletus remained official language in the city throughout the Antiquity. Around late 5th-early 4th c. BC, Odessos was protected by a solid fortress wall. Some temples, a theater and other public buildings with rich marble architectural ornaments were erected. Between the end of 4th c. and until the end of 1st c. BC the town minted its own bronze, silver and gold coins. The attempt of Philip II of Macedonia to conquer the city failed, but by the end of 4th c. BC his son Alexander III the Great annexed it to his empire together with all other ports on the Western Black Sea coast. Lysimachus (323-280 BC), his general and successor as ruler on the Balkans selected Odessos for his strategic military base on the Black Sea coast. He organized shipbuilding in the city and fleets were brought together in its harbor in order to begin some of his numerous military campaigns in Asia Minor and South Balkan peninsula. After the death of Lysimachus, the town emerged again as an independent trade- craft and cultural center. Starting with the second half of 4th c. BC until 1st c. BC, Odessos minted its own coins: bronze and silver emissions, while during Lysimachus gold staters were emited here too. Notwithstanding the Celtic invasion on the Balkans of c. 280 BC, the city preserved its independence and continued to be one of the most important trade centers on the Black Sea West coast. In late 2nd – 1st c. BC, th city supported Mithridates VI of Pontus in his wars against Rome but after his death, although still having independent administrative rule the town fell under Roman control. Odessos was finally annexed in the Roman Empire c. AD 12-15. The city grew to be one of the major ports of the new province of Moesia (later Moesia Inferior). The population of Odessos increased in number and the built-up area of the city was enlarged. A new fortification wall was constructed, new temples, various public buildings, water supply pipelines, new paved streets, etc., have been built too. At the end of 2nd c. AD there was erected a large and lavishly decorated with marble public bath (thermae), covering an area of 7000 sq. m., thus being the fourth largest one known in Europe. The second half of 2nd – first half of 3rd c. AD were the heyday times of Odessos duing Roman period. Since the beginning of 1st c. and until mid-3rd c. ADd century the city minted again its own autonomous bronze coins with its name on the obverse and the reigning Roman emperor on avers. During the 4th c. AD changes in social and economic situation in the Roman Empire and on the Balkans, combined with proximity to the new capital Constantinople, help the new growth of the city economy and its importance as a port- and trading center. Commercial activities intensified and local production of ceramics, lamps, glassware and bronze works increased significantly. The number of its population increased again and built-up area of the city was enlarged to about 30 ha., which caused the erection of new fortress walls for defending the entire cit-area.
Odessos was noted among the important cities on the the seaside road in the 4th-5th c. AD road map/ intinerarium Tabula Peutingeriana:  …Tomis – 36 miles to Kalatis – 30 miles to Timogis – 18 miles to Dyonisopolis – 24 miles to Odessos – 24 miles to Marcianopolis...
Starting 4th c. AD and until the first decades of 7th c. AD, Odessos became an important Early Christian center. Within the city walls and its surrounding area there have been discovered ruined remains of 16 Early Christian basilicas, some of them having beautiful mosaic floors and expensive internal marble decoration.
Since early 5th c. AD, the city was a Bishopric see and later in 6th c. AD, an Archbishoric- and Metropolitan one. Reference of the structure is made In the well-known Patriarchate of Constantinople Parish Lists of the Diocese. Odessos is listed as an Autocephalous Archbishopric see between two Metropolitan sees; those of Marcianopolis (Devnya) and Tomis (Constanta). Although not existing for over 150 years at the time, in a Diocesan list compiled during the Isaurian dynasty between 733 and 787,  among the Metropolitan sees under the control of Constantinople Patriarchate, in the Moesian Diocese a Metropolitan of Odessos with five subordinated bishops was listed, which refered by no doubts to earlier data. In lists № 6 and № 8, assumed to date from the time of Patriarch Nicephorus, c. 806–815, among the Dioceses subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Moesia is listed the archbishop of Odessos, but it seems that the new name of the settlement is known, on or near the ancient city - Varna. In the so-called Basilian list compiled during the patriarchate of Photius (858–867, 878–886) there was included based again on old data, a Metropolitan of Marcianopolis and an Archbishop of Odessos, However it is clear that all those mentioned in the lists Metropolitan-, Archbishopric- and Bishopric sees have suffered catastrophic damage during the Avars and Slavs incursions at the end of 6th and beginning of 7th c. AD despite that both ancient cities were abandoned and never more not populated since AD 614. Since 681 these “Dioceses” are within the borders, even within internal regions of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, which until mid9th century was a pagan state. In the Ecumenical Church Councils that were organized during that period (the Sixth in Constantinople in 681 and the Seventh in Nicaea in 787), no representatives of those dioceses located North of Haemus (Balkan Mountain) were presented. Those dioceses were later dropped out from the updated Diocesan lists established under the emperors Leo VІ (886–912) and Constantine VІІ (913–954).
Odessos was mentioned as an important city of Moesia Secunda province in the Synekdemos of Hierocles (6th c. AD): Province Moesia ruled by haegemon – 7 cities: Marcianopolis, Odessos, Durostorum, Nicopolis, Novae, Appiaria and Abritus.
During the first half of 6th century Emperor Justinian I adopted some legislative measures to improve the economic situation in Scythia Minor and Moesia Minor, mostly in order to secure the Danube army. With a novel dated May 18, 536 he creates a special unit called quaestura exercitus. This quaestura is a huge administrative area covering the provinces Moesia Inferior, Scythia and Caria (in Asia Minor), but as well the island of Cyprus and the Cyclades. For its ruler is appointed Bonos, named Justinian military quaestor with rank of praefect and seat in Odessos. In addition to the military power, he was charged with judiciary, administrative and financial authority on the entire quaestura. That quaestura was assigned with the important task to supply with food, arms and other necessary goods to garrisons in the limes (border) fortresses on Lower Danube. Thus Odessos was a major center of various military, financial and administrative services.
In 583 Avars and Slavs invaded the empire through Danube and devastated Scythia Minor and Moesia Secunda. The cities that suffered most of that invasion were Marcianopolis (583 AD), Dorostorum and Zaldapa (585 AD), but well-fortified Odessos was out of their reach. Despite these military successes of the Avars, Byzantium still tried to transfer the war theater North of Danube. In 594 AD a large army headed by the stratagem Priscus invaded and devastated the Slavs territories in Dacia. Having a suitable port in this campaign of 595 AD Odessos plays again the role of main supply harbor and military base for the Byzantine army. Initially it served as base for the armies defending Moesia Secunda headed by Priscus, and later by Peter, brother of the emperor Mauricius (582–602), but this time the campaign was unsuccessful and the Byzantines – destroyed. During the reign of Heraclius (610-641) a great combined army of Avars and Slavs invaded the Balkans and then under their attacks fell and were plundered the last islands of Antique culture North of Haemus (Balkan mountains). Among these was Odessos which followed the fate of remaining early Byzantine cities in this part of the Black sea west coast. In 614 AD the town was seized, plundered and burned. Most probably its inhabitants have left it and flee by the sea. Afterward the town was definitely abandoned, as the last coins discovered in the city and the region date of that era. The population deserted the place and the city was left in ruins for many decades, even centuries. Never the less, ,  Odessos was listed among the most famous cities on the Black Sea coast also in the 7th century Cosmographia by Ravennatis anonymi based obviously on older information data: the most famous cities [are]:... Apollonia, Anchialo, Messembria, Erite, Odessos, Dyonisopolis, Bizone, Timus, Trisa, Kalatis, Stratonis, Tomis... These are the cities on the Pont Euxinos coasts.
Odessos reappeared in the Byzantine chronicles only by the end of 7th century in connection with the campaign of Bulgarian Khan Asparukh, who penetrated the territory South of Danube in 679-681. The Byzantine chroniclers Theophanes the Confessor, Patriarch Nicephorus and later Anastasius Bibliothecarius in 9th century have described the battle of Bulgarians at Onglos locality in 7th century and their defeat over the army of Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV. In the passage about that conflict, the name Varna has been mentioned for the first time, being some locality near ancient city of Odessos, which the Bulgarians led by Khan Asparukh succeeded to reach: ...and [the Bulgarians] came to Varna, as it is called, near Odessos, and the inland territory around it. This narrative made it just clear that the location of Varna is somewhere in the vicinity of Odessos, and not of any other ancient city. Ever since the First Bulgarian Kingdom took shape the ruins of Odessos and all its territories Westward and Northward were included permanently within its lands. Following the establishment of First Bulgarian Kingdon in 681 until 971, when this region fall under Byzantine rule, no new settlement was constructed over the ruines of ancient Odessos, although during 8th - 9th c. in its vicinity several large Bulgarian villages were established. They are are now overbuilt by structures of modern Varna. However, the ancient port facilities may have been used occasionally by Byzantine ships either for embarkment of troops during military campaigns against Bulgarian state or for sending delegations for discussion with its rulers. The name Varna, though without specifying the location of Odessos, has been mentioned four more times in Byzantine chronicles written between 9th and 11th centuries: 1) by Patriarch Nicephorus while narrating the killing of a Bulgarian noble Campaganus in 765; 2) in the 774 maritime campaign of Constantine V Kopronimos described by Theophanes the Confessor and Anastasius Bibliothecarius; 3) in the itinerary the Varyags/ Russians attempt to take Constantinople as described by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos and 4) .by Patriarch Nicephorus who when describing the unrest in the Bulgarian state and the campaigns of the Emperor Constantine V Kopronimos during the second half of 8th century mentioned once again Varna.
Byzantine chroniclers took probably the name Odessos as one indication to confirm a hydronym known to them – Varna (as they knew for instance the river Dichina). So called Varna has not been far away from Odessos as all of them relate the new name with it, and not for example with Marcianopolis.
As far as on the territory of settlements situated West of ancient Odessos there are not archaeological findings dated 11th century, it must be concluded, that the latter have been abandoned by the end of 10th century. The cause may be in the Byzantine military campaigns of 971 and later, especially in AD 1000, when the so-called secondary submission of North-Eastern Bulgaria took place. Following the re-conquest of North-Eastern Bulgarian lands by Emperor John I Tzimiskes in 971 and final conquest of the region in 1000/1001, the area of ancient Odessos was included within the limits of the Byzantine Empire. The new town was named Varna and during that period in the Southern part of the ancient city a new, Medieval fortress was constructed. The new fortification was built around in the first decades of 11th century probably during the reign of the Emperor Basilius II, in order to protect both the population and the local garrison. Inside the fortified area new residents settled. Apart from the Byzantine garrison, the population consisted mostly of Bulgarians from the region. By the middle of the 11th century, the deployed in the city garrison was headed by a stratagos whose name Ashot is known from his lead seal. Archeological findings in the city indicate that both the fortress and the settlement around it were hit during the Pecheneg invasion in 1034, as well as during theirs two following devastating incursions in 1051 and 1056. Some findings discovered in Medieval Varna hint that one or more gropups of Pechenegs settled in as well. During excavation conducted North of the Roman thermae of Odessos, a section of the new Medieval fortress wall having a direction East - Westward has been discovered. The wall was built of hewn stones, mostly colleceted from the ancient fortress. However the structure provided also several fragments of pots having the specific ornaments of pottery of 11th – 12th centuries. The wall was discovered heavily ruined and preserved mostly in its foundation. During the 60s of the 11th century Varna was regularly mentioned in Byzantine sources as an inhabited site with well functioning port. In the biography of the monk Cyril Phileotes there is a reference to an accident with an Armenian born in Varna, who collected money with the monk assistance in order to redeem his wife and children, then probably prisoners of Pechenegs, and was advised by Phileot to sail onboard a ship from Varna. In the chronicle of Skylitzes-Kedrenos Varna is indicated as the place where Russian troops (called there by tradition Scythes = Varyags, Vikings) were defeated in 1043 on the seaside of so-called Varna. The Varna seaside is rather very general as reference, but the text is refers to the expression used by 9th century chronists – the so-called Varna, being the same location reached by the troops of Bulgarian Khan Asparukh, mentioned above. By 1153 the town was known the Arab geographer al-Idrisi, who calls it Barnas (Varna). According Niketas Choniates, later noted as well by Theodor Skutariotes, the town was conquered in 1190 by the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen І (1190–1195/6) and its fortress walls probably were damaged. Soon afterward emperor Isaac II Angelos (1185–1195) restored the wall and the garrison in the city. In 1201 during the campaign of the Bulgarian Kaloyan (1197–1207) against Byzantium, the city was conquered again, and its fortress walls were tottaly destroyed, as refered by the Byzantine historian Niketas Choniates (1155/57-1207). Varna remained within the Second Bulgarian Kingdom for the next two centuries. . The town was re-established diring the following decades, probably by the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Assen II (1218-1241).
During the Byzantine civil war. However archeological findings collected by excavations in modern Varna indicated that the destruction of the town in 1204 caused its economic decline and only after several decades its population managed to recover of it. Later on, the town grew and residential neighborhood span outside the walls – on the hills North of the fortress.Varna was mentioned in connection with the campaign in the region of the Byzantine protostrator Michael Glabas Tarchaneiotes in 1278/79. During the following several decades, the town has not been especially mentioned in Byzantine chronicles. However, certain finds of luxorious pottery, metal objects and silver- and gold jewellery of second half of 13th - first half of 14th centuries speak in favor of a town having a flowrishing economy. There was a large local pottery-, metal- and fine crafts production. In that time Varna grew to the main trading center of Bulgaria with a busy port, continuosly engaged in large in scale commercial activities with Byzantium and other countries of the Mediterraneand world and the East. The finds discovered in the Medieval city and in some fortified towns in the region consist of fine Byzantine pottery, metalworks and textiles, decorated by silver gilt luxoruous belts produced in Dalmatia and jewellery made in some western lands and even Chinese mirrors. They proved the importance of Varna port in the Black Sea trade during Medieval period and especially in late 13th -14th c.. There are built the well-known three medieval churches from 13th – 14th centuries: St. Theodore, St. George and St. Athanasius
In 1346 probably in the city were dislocated the troops of Bulgarian commanders Dobrotitsa and Theodor, who were sent by their brother Despot Balik – the ruler of Karvuna, Despotate.Their aim was to help the Empress – mother Anna of Savoy in Constantinople in the civil war in Byzantium. In 1347 upon proposal by the Venetian doge Andrea Dandolo, the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331–1371) concluded trade- and political treaty with Venice. It deals with various trade-related measures and allowed the Venetians to set their consulate and lodge in Varna. The treaty and Venetian rights were confirmed again in 1352. On the back of the treaty the Venetian consul in Varna Marco Leonardo noted often in his reports the exchange rate of local currency or weight unit: the so-called Varna hyperpyron. Until 1369 Varna was for certain part of the territory of Bulgaria, namely to the Tirnovo Kingdom. Since 1325 onward Varna was a Metropolitan See under control of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Initially it included the area around Varna and fortresses located along the Northern seaside, including Karvuna. During Metropolitan Alexius (elected in 1368) the Metropolitan See of Varna reached its greatest territorial extent. The orders of then Patriarch dated 1369 and July 1370 provided twice lists of so-called Patriarchate fortresses and all then belonging to Varna: the towns of Karnava, Kranea, Keliya and Lykostomion, Geranea, Dristra (in the second list Tristrea) and Kaliakra. In other words, this Metropolitan See covered at that period almost entire territory of present day Dobroudja up to the mouth of Danube River, Vrana Region and the lands the Black Sea coast starting from the Eastern section of Balkan mountains, North of Cape Emine up to Varna. Before April 1369 it included also the Diocese (or only the town) of the annulled Ovech Metropolitan See, then under the Patriarchate of Tirnovo. Probably these wire the territories of the Dobroudja despotate. To the metropolitan Alexius of Varna was subjected for a certain period of time the oldest Christian diocese in Moesia – that of Dorostorum. The names of several 14th century Metropolitans of Varna are known, mentioned in various documents of the Patriarchate: Methodius I, Markel, Methodius II, Alexius, Gabriel and Raphael.
In 1366 the large army of western knights stationed on a number of galleys and led by the Count Amadeus VI of Savoy besieged the well-defended city and failed to take it. The failure forced “The Green Count” to begin negotiations with the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander. Twelve eminent citizens of Varna and Despot Dobrotitsa served as mediators in the negotiations. According the accounting book of the campaign treasurer Antonio Berberi, the siege did not prevent active trade and other commercial activities between the merchants of Varna and the knights, which included food, row materials and beverages supply, ship repairs and more. In accordance with the will of Tsar Ivan Alexander on November 18 Amadeus VI of Savoy left Varna bay and retreated to Messembria. Maybe sometime later the town was handed by Tsar Ivan Alexander to Dobrotitsa, the then ruler of Karvuna Despotate (located in modern Dobroudja). As the Ottoman chronist Mehmed Neshri (?-1520) noted in his Cosmorama, the heir of Despot Dobrotitsa, his son Ivanko probably moved his capital from Kaliakra to Varna. In 1387 he signed a peace treaty with Genoa, which had supplanted Venice in the trade with the city of Varna and the Western coast of Black Sea in general. The Genoese obtained free trade rights and the establishment of a trade colony in Varna. Next year (1388) Varna was besieged by the Ottoman Turks, but the fortress was not taken. This might have happen some years later but there are no real proves about the exact time of this event.
In 1399 the city was devastated by the Tatars led by some Aktav. Soon afterward the rebellious Tatars were defeated by the Ottomans and probably since that date the town fell finally under Ottoman rule and in the fortress was dispatched their garrison. Varna came in the focus of Medieval historians again during the military campaign against the Ottomans led by the Polish-Hungarian King Vladislav III Jagielo. After he have conquered and destroyed several fortresses in North Bulgaria (then within the Ottoman Tmpire), the crusader army reached the vicinity of Varna. On October 10, 1444, west of the town fortress walls the greatest battle of this last crusade took place. The army of Sultan Murad II (1421–1451) defeated the crusaders and the young king was killed on the battlefield.
Then, a new period for the city history began. As part of the Ottoman empire Varna became the most important strategic- and trade port on the Western Black sea coast. There is a Venetian reference dated 1447, which mentioned that the port of Zagora (i.e. Varna) was visited by a Venetian trade ship. References to the city have been made in various portolani (descriptions) and sea-fare maps from 13th century onwards. During Ottoman period up to 19th c. Varna remained the most important port of the Empire located North of the Balkan range. Imports reacing the town markets included luxorious textiles, pottery, glass- and metalworks produced in major centers of Asia Minor, the Mediterranean and the Near East as well as porcelain from China.


Until recently it was implicitly assumed that the only Medieval fortress of Varna, known by old chronicles that has been taken by the Bulgarian Tsars Ivan Asen I and Kaloyan. This is the one, which with some repairs and additions of Ottoman period was well preserved until 1830. It was destroyed by the Russians during their retreat from occupied Varna after the end of Russo-Turkish war of 1828–1829. The limits of that fortress are well visible on the first plans of Varna drawn after the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1879. Contemporary Bulgarian scholars have dated it between 12th – 14th centuries.
Descriptions of the fortress are preserved from a later period – 17th – 19th centuries and according to them, it has had two walls: an external one (proteihysmae) about 3 m high and another, internal one of about 8 – 10 m height. Various descriptions referred that along the curtain wall there were erected nine, ten or twelve rectangular towers. In the west part of the fortress, the citadel 38 x 25 m in size raised. Between the two walls there was a ditch encircling the fortress on three sides. The main gate was near the citadel on West wall. A smaller gate was located on the North wall. The citadel was demolished in 1908 in conjunction with new construction plan of Varna. The fortress survived because it protected the important for the Ottomans port. Travelers who visited the town of Varna between 16th and 19th century noted especially that the fortress they see is located on a slope near the port. The Italian Giovanni Maria Angiolelo, who visited the city in the second half of 16th – early 17th c., mentioned a small (for him) fortress – the Varna castellum. Evliya Çelebi (1656) and eminent Ottoman geographer wrote that the fortress was located on the seaside and was reconstructed by the Genovese. He mentioned further that the fortress had beautiful walls, solid construction and circle of about 3000 steps. On three sides it was surrounded by a ditch filled by sea-water. According to Domenigo Sesstini (1780) the fortress was located in the foot (bottom) of a hill. Wenzel von Bronyard (1785) informed in his description of the fortress that above it there was a hill which dominated over and in case of siege the fort could not be hold if the hill is taken by the enemy. According to the plan of the fortress drawn by von Bronyard it had five big and eight smaller towers. Immediately in front of its South wall the port scaffoldings were located. On the plan of the Varna fortress of 1829drawn by the Russian officer N. Danilevsky, the Medieval fortress called by him the fort was located as well immediately near the port.
From topographic maps it is clear that the fortress’ South wall was constructwed at a distance about ten meters from the sea, almost on the harbor. All descriptions stressed on the fact of the immediate vicinity of the port to trhe fortification walls, while the residential areas were located Northward, on the territory of the Roman thermae. Thus, they confirmed the assumption that the fortress was built deliberately to defend the port and area around it.
During Ottoman period the fortress was occasionally attacked as it happened in 1620, whenVarna was taken by surprise by Ukrainian Cossacks who came from the sea. When living the town, they took from its inhabitants a great booty.
During the Ottoman rule, the fortress walls were subject to several amendments and repairs. These were mainly due because of the changes in siege war and the introduction of firearms. As seen from citadel later snapshots, between the towers was erected a lower wall. On the walls were cut apertures for shooting and the distance between the embrasures was built-in with bricks. After the Cossacks attacks of 1620 and 1656 the ditches in front of fortress were cleaned. There were cannons placed on the wall top, the citadel was turned into a gunpowder storeroom and garrison arms warehouse. In the middle of the fortified space there was built a mosque, which was possibly a converted Christian church. Unfortunately the described Medieval city walls are not preserved, except for a small section discovered in 2005 and now presented in the underground floor of a private house.


Today: The modern port of Varna is the largest in Bulgaria and it is where moor large commercial and container ships from all over the world, as well as tourist cruise ships. It was built in the beginning of 20th century and significantly expanded and enlarged due to a major reconstruction project realized in the 70s-80s of the 20th century. Nowadays it covers the South-Western part of Varna bay and through dug-in channels it was connected to the large lakes of Varna and Beloslav located West of the bay. Thus the modern port entered almost 30 km away of the original bay within the interior. On its North shores during the 90s of the 20th century and the beginning of 21st century were constructed smaller ports having special facilities for loading of timber, chemicals and other specific goods. A new project proposes to move the central port of Varna Westward in the bay/former lake and reshape its current location in a modern marina- cultural and entertainment center.
Before the construction of the Varna new port began at the end of 19th – early 20th centuries, the Ancient and Medieval port were situated at the same place. Since the foundation of Odessos in 6th c. BC, this location was selected according the most favorable for the purpose configuration of the terrain around Varna bay. Observations made during civil engineering excavation in modern time and combined with old 19 th c. photographs suggested that the old port was situated within the area of the square in front of present day Varna Railway station. Various port facilities: remains of wooden piers and on-shore platforms from Ottoman period were discovered on the same place, which following a North-South direction, were traced at a distance of up to 100 m. There was located the Ancient port too. The Ancient coast line can be traced as well by the location of old port warehouses, built along it during the first half of 19th century, some of which are still preserved.
The port location was naturally protected by the former Cape Varna, which at that time was much bigger in size. The cape was demolished at the end of 19th – early 20th centuries for the construction of the new harbor and today constitutes just the beginning of the breakwater wall of Harbor station. Before the construction of modern Varna harbor, big wooden scaffolding was located on the same place. Medieval Varna had two more piers in the bay used according to the winds and sea waves: one at Galata (North of the homonymous cape and living quarter) and another one: Rosico, situated West from the first one and also in the bay of of Varna. Rosico was located in the contemporary locality known in 19th c. as Karantinata and now called Lazuren bryag. Both of these smaller ports have been marked on several Medieval maps and portolani and cape Galata was among the most important landmarks for navigation on the Western Black Sea coast in Medieval period. Most probably, on both locations there were also smaller Ancient ports. During underwater archaeological research conducted in the 60ies of the 20th century, it was discovered that in that Southern area of the bay there was constructed a now submerged 250 m long facility: a breakwater, constructed in perpendicular to the shore in direction North – South. It was built of medium size stones without mortar, lined with greater oval stones. The depth of thus waterbreaker today reaches 2.5 m from the surface and 4.5 m from the bottom. The waterbreaker protected the aquatory West of it both from winds and waves, which are the most dangerous in the area and those blowing East and North - East.
The other ancient port was situated exactly between that waterbreaker and shore of Karantinata/ Lazuren bryag. During the same underwater archaeological research in the 60ies of the 20th century there were discovered fragments of amphorae mostly of the 4th – 6th centuries AD, imported Late Antique pottery and lamps, etc. Part of the discovered amphorae and other material belong to the cargo of a ship that sunk near that port during the same period.
In addition within the area of the Karantinata? Lazuren bryag there were discovered various ceramics from the Middle Ages (11th – 15th c.) and three iron anchors. Two of them are of the so called type with four flukes while the third has has only two flukes. Chronologically the two flukes’ anchors are considered older and were used in sailing between 6th and 8th centuries, while the four flukes ones came in use much later, sometime in the Late Middle Ages. Thus, the use of that port in both Late Amtiquity and Middle Ages has been confirmed by finds underwater.
During early 60s of the 20th century another similar waterbreaker has been discovered underwater close to the Cape Galata lighthouse. The small bay where it was situated was called by local people “the Old Port”. The archaeological artifacts in that area (fragmented iron anchors and amphorae) were discovered in 1962, when also a supposed waterbreaker was found located in the close vicinity. It was followed in North-South direction and was built out of big unevenly shaped stones with a shape similar to that of the waterbreaker wall near Karantinata. According the underwater observations the uppermost part of that wall is at 3.5 m depth. Most probably this facility belonged to the port that served the large ancient settlement of ca 4th c. BC-6th c. AD with unknown name (maybe Karabyzia?), which was situated on Cape Galata.
During the Middle Ages, the port of Varna is connected with two military maritime campaigns – one of the Byzantine emperor Constantine V Kopronimus in 774 and the second one of the Italian Count Amadeus VІ of Savoy in 1366. The greatest maritime campaign took place in 774. Then Constantine V equipped a fleet of 2000 helandias for subsequent campaign on land against Bulgaria, but when he reached Varna, he was scared and thought to turn back. This has been referred by Anastasius Bibliothecarius and it helps to assume that by the second half of the 8th century there was no available for Byzantium comfortable port in the location around ancient Odessos.
In their either trade- or military campaigns to Constantinople the Russians or Vikings also reached the Varna bay. According to the statement of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (905–959) the Russian traders (Vikings) followed Dniepr river Southward to the West coast of the Black Sea. The text reads that: ... the monoxilos descended from Novgorod ... From the Danube they reached Konopa, from Konopa – to Constance along the river Varna and from Varna to river Dichina.  However, there is no evidence of using the port of Varna in Early Middle Ages (7th-10th c.) by the Bulgarians despite tha fact that it was in theirstate territory. The port facilities were reconstructed most probably only when in 11th c. the Byzantines established again a fortified town over the ruins of ancient Odessos. They named it Varna, according to the tradition transmitted by local Bulgarians, who lived in a village situated near the ancient city. Then the port began to function again as an important trade center on the Western Black Sea coast. This continued until 1201, when the city was seized by Bulgarian army of Tsar Kaloyan, when the fortification walls were demolished and the population of the town decreased signicantly. The use of Varna port decrease too. It took several decades to thebtown to recover after the demolition but in the second half of the 13th century it became the most important Black Sea port of the Bulgarian kingdom (or of Zagora as it has been noted in several western documents). The port was place of intensive trade mainly with the Italian republic of Venice and less with the several Byzantine states that appeared after the crusaders took over. The Venetian supremacy in the Black sea was shattered in 1261 when Byzantium restored its capital in Constantinople. To counterbalance the power of Venice (who helped the crusaders and was the main responsible power for the conquest of Constantinople in 1204) another Italian city –state: Genoa was granted numerous privileges. The Genoese were granted duty-free trade within the Byzantine Empire and full freedom in the Black Sea trade. Thus they managed to almost supersede the Venetians in the region. The Genoese merchants were very active in creating markets in almost all towns on the wet and north coasts of the Black sea. They made intensive use of all important Bulgarian ports such as Varna, Messembria, Anchialo and Sozopol despite the fact that they were occasionally transferred to Byzantium. 
According the accounting books of Genoa merchants, during the first half of the 14th century from Zagora were imported in addition to crops the following goods: honey, furs, wine, silver and wax. However the first places in their trade with Zagora were reserved for the famose for its quality Zagora (Bulgarian) wax and cereals. Only for the period of 1340–1341 the quantity of Zagora wax loaded on Genoese ships amounted to 111 scales (1 scale = 45,5 kg) or over 5 tons, at a price from 5 to 10 solidi per scale. The quantities of wax supplied to Genoa by the end of 15th century reached 2 000 scales, or about 95 tons. At the same time Venice, facing many competitors and restrained in its trade by the Byzantine Empire, changed its policy and sought ally in Bulgaria.
Thanks to its active policy, and despite the opposition of Genoa, Venice succeeded to sign a treaty with emperor Andronicus II Palaiologus (1282–1328) on October 4, 1302. The Venetian merchants were granted again free trade rights in Black Sea and respectively access to Bulgarian ports. The first reference for Venetian trade with Bulgarian crops dates from August 1276, when the nobleman Pietro Grisono delivered about 600 modii of grain from Varna region to Constantinople. The same year another merchant was mentioned to deliver cereals from Zagora (Bulgaria).
Numerous written accounts of merchants and their turnover have been preserved in Italian archives. The trade relationships with Varna and the goods exported by the Italian republics were referred in many trading handbooks such as Datiana and the handbook of Francesco Pegelotti. The main export goods from the port were grain, wax and furs, while imported goods were jewellery, fine fabrics and various other luxuries. The first of the two quoted handbooks is dated to the 80s of 14th century, when the Bulgarian Kingdom already faced the Ottoman invasion. Nevertheless, the turnover evidenced that the economy in Varna region was well developed and functioning. During the first decades of the 14th century, the Genoese, who unlike the Venetian merchants were not patronized by the Bulgarian Tsars, exported grain to Constantinople and Genoa through the North ports near the Danube delta: Kilia, Vichina and mostly Lykostomion. Howeve, smaller quantities of wheat and grain crops were still exported from Varna and Anchialos, but it seems that Genoese consciously avoided trade with those ports and especially with Varna. Venetian role in Black Sea trade increased significantly during the first half of 14th century when a special office was created in 1324 securing constant ship traffic from April to October. The Venetian ships sailed permanently to the Black Sea from Constantinople and Bosporus to the Bulgarian coastal ports. Venice traded mostly with Varna and Messembria on the Black Sea coast. Sailing was pursued and facilitated thanks to special sea-fare maps and portolani for the Black Sea. Well known are the Pisa map and its portolan calle, which received an addenda for the Black Sea sailing routes dated 1296.
Varna gradually established itself as the main Venetian port on the Western Black Sea coast. From there, merchants exported wheat and grain to the Byzantine capital Constantinople, to the island of Crete and some towns of Northern Black Sea. This is the reason why the city is mentioned by priority in the Venetian documents of the first half of 14th century superseding such ports as Sozopol and Messembria and those situated in the Danube delta.
During the 14th century many experienced seafarers, inhabitants of Varna were employed as sailors on Venetian and Genoese ships and even, as noted in some Genoese documents were partners with Genoese captains: On the galleys owned by Carlo di Gramaudi and Ugolino Doria employed as sailors: Constantine from Varna, Theohar from Varna, Janica from Lykostomion, Niketas from Achtopol, Kynahius from Sozopol, Leo from Varna, Sava from Varna... George from Varna – partner and sailor in the galley of Azzo di Mari... On the galley of Pietro da Frankis as sailors are employed Manol Bulgaro from Petra, and Dimitar from Varna, living in Genoa near the church St. Agnes.
The frequency of suffured by annoyance Venetian merchants in some Black Sea ports, as well as because of the presence of Venetian colonies in Bulgarian port towns such as Varna and Messembria were the cause for conclusion of the Oath - Treaty between the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander and Venice in 1347. In the treaty Tsar Ivan Alexander guaranteed the lives and property of Venetian merchants in Bulgaria, introduced regulated customs tariffs and port charges. These were apparently favorable for Bulgaria, because they were very high for that period: 3%. For the export of 100 modii of grain the merchant was due to pay 3 [silver] groshen. For anchoring of a big ship the charge was fixed and two hyperpyrons, while for a small one was one hyperpyron. Furthermore, Venice was authorized to institute a Venetian consulate in Varna and the right to build churches and loggias in Bulgarian ports. The establishment of consulate eliminated the traditional middle-men trade and both parties could negotiate directly through their representatives onsite. The consulate in Varna was in fact the only one in the Black Sea area (exception made for Constantinople), which confirms the town leading role in the trade within the entire region. The local consul received the right to protect Venetian interests in the Black Sea region. The first Venetian consul in Varna was Marco Leonardo, who sent a copy of the treaty with Bulgaria to Venice in 1352 and in an annexed note to it gave the value of the hyperpyron in Varna.
In 1360, Despot of the Karvuna principality (in modern Dobrudja), which was separated from Bulgarian Kingdom, became Dobrotitsa. During the decade 1360–1370, the Despotate expanded its territories Northward and came into conflict with Genoa for the Danubian ports, which were under control of the Italian republic. Some written accounts as notary documents for fictious sales of ships from a Greek and merchant from Gaeta to the Genoese merchant Antonio Molocello, because of fear of attack by the galleys of Dobrotitsa, it is assumed that the despot was in sharp conflict with Genoa and c. 1361-1362 he conquered the port of Kilia. The protracted conflict was cause for the lack of documents in the Genoese archives for exports of goods from the Black Sea ports, including Varna,. The situation changed during Dobrotitsa’s heir – Ivanko, when in 1387 he signed a treaty with Genoa. It actually ended the war between the parties and the Genoese took possession of the trade through the ports in the Despotate.
Since mid-14th century Varna established itself as the main grain market of Bulgaria. In the Handbook of Trading compiled c. 1385 by an anonymous author, known as the Datiana, it has been noted that the grain from Bulgaria is sold in Varna. It is noted as well that the barley from Rodosto (in Byzantium) is more expencive than the one fcoming rom Kaffa (in Crimea), while the latter is more expencive that the barley from Varna.
When Venice lost the next of its serial wars with Genoa in 1381, the city was again briefly superseded from trade in the Black Sea. Venice restored its commercial contacts and trade with the region only by the end of 14th century. In 1406 the Venetians signed a treaty with the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologus (1391–1425) and restored their annual maritime caravans to the Black Sea. Then the trade with Black Sea ports incuding former Bulgarian ones continued. This has been evidenced by some archaeological finds and written sources. For instance, in Istanbul was found a grave inscription from 1440 of the Genoese merchant Antonius of Varna. According to a trading handbook from mid-15th century, Venice continued at that period its active trade through the port of Varna. This is evident also form the 1485 accounting book of the merchant Giacomo Badoer.
Since the beginning of the 15th century in the trade through port Varna intervened actively also Florence. Until then this town was not a maritime republic, but for its trading with the Levant it used the ships of Genoa, Venice and the nearby Pisa.
A Florentine trading handbook written c. 1450 testified that Varna was still a big grain-trading center, but as well a marketplace for silver, silk and spices. The town had at this time its constant trade units – 100 Varna modii = 86 Venetian volumes, while 1 Varna Libra = 1 Venetian Libra and 2 ½ saga. Venice was finally removed from the trade in Black sea region in 1452, when the Ottoman Empire committed itself for a long-term with Genoa and especially with its main competitor: Florence.
One should not forget that trade through the port of Varna was carried out as well by non-Italian merchants, who competed with the Italian republics. Documents from the Archive of the Aragon kings in Barcelona testified that since the end of 13th – beginning of 14th centuries, Catalonian merchants visited regularly the Black Sea ports. There are Catalonian documents preserved for exports of goods from the ports of Zagora (Zaorra, Bulgaria): Azilo (Anchialo), Varna, Vecina (Vicina) and other. From Varna were exported mostly cereals and the high quality wax, known from the name of port Varna (the port of Zagora) as Zagora wax (from Zavorra).
The same year in Kaffa was delivered wheat from Zagora, probably from Varna, a port to which Genoa had no access previously. However the trade data of Varna with Genoa are depleted with this fact. Intensification of Genoese policy in the Black Sea region is confirmed by the treaties that the republic signed the same year with Tatars and Ottomans.
The Ottoman invasion in 1388 and the transformation of Dobroudja into a region of  war between the Ottomans and Walachia in the beginning of 15th century obviously restrained agricultural production. Although there is no reference for the activities of the Venetian consulate in Varna during the second half of 14th century, the Venetian interest for the wheat from Varna did not fade even during the tumult for the Black Sea region 15th century. A decision from 1403 of the Venetian collegium concerning cereals is preserved and it was mentioned in it the charges collected for grain imported from the Black Sea region, except that from Varna, Messembria and Pedia.
Although at a slower pace, trade of Italians with the Black Sea region continued during the first half of 15th century. The accounting book of the Venetian merchant and banker Giacomo Badoer mentioned that in 1438 from the port of Zagora, i.e. Varna to Kaffa was transported certain amount of wax from Zagora. In a letter of 1475 to the consul in Kaffa, the shortage of wheat transported from Kilia, Zagora and Mauro Castro has been discussed (because the subjects were ports, most probably under Zagora the author has meant Varna). There are references about trade through Varna port in the trading handbook of Giorgio di Lorenzo Chiarrini of 1485, but obviously it deals with an earlier situation in the region. There is no doubt that trade with the Italian republics was severed only after the Ottomans turned the Black Sea in their “internal lake” of the empire. Then any access of foreign ships beyond Bosphorus was forbidden by law. Afterwards, trade through the port of Varna was connected exclusively with Istanbul. The main export goods from former Bulgarian lands remained the same: grain, furs, wax, with the addition of timber and wood, charcoal, lime, meat and some more raw materials. Imports in the city, through Istanbul during the period of 16th – 18th centuries included fine ceramics and fayence  vessels, as well as pipes produced in the large Anatolian pottery centers, expensive fabrics, luxurious Italian tiles, glass- and fayence vessels, Chinese porcelain, famous drugs, such as the Venetian “Theriaca”, etc. All these goods were coming to the markets of Varna only through the merchanst of Istanbul. Only during 19th century the port of Varna was opened again for direct trade with goods from Western Europe, when again Italians but also British, Austrian, French, Russian and other merchants open their trade offices in the town. Respectively these countries, as wel as some other ones established their consulates in Varna too. By mid-19th c. there were 14 foreign consulates operating in the town


The later Medieval fortress of Varna erected in 13th century was used with some repairs also during the Ottoman period. It was destroyed by the Russian troops during their retreat from the city after the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-1829. The last remaining ruins: its citadel, were finally demolished in 1906. An esact model of the structure can be seen in the Medieval department of the Archaeological Museum. A little section of the ruined earlier Medieval fortress (dated 11th – early 12th c.) have been preserved in the basement of a private building in the city. Larger sections of the Hellenistic (4th – 3rd c. BC), Roman (1st – 3rd c. AD) and Late Antique (4th – 6th c. AD) fortress walls of Odessos discovered during the last century by archaeological excavation may be seen in downtown Varna on both sides of Boulevard Knyaz Boris I.

Medieval Sites

The Varna Museum of Archaeology is the largest one outside the capital city and it covers all historical periods. Its collections consist of artifacts starting from the Paleolithic Age (c. 100 000 – 30 000 BC) up to Late Middle Ages (17th – 18th c.) all discovered during excavations in the city and the region of Varna. Among the most interesting artifacts on show are: the oldest items in the world made of processed gold, discovered in Varna, in a necropolis of Eneolithic Age (4600 – 4200 BC). Their total weight of gold found there in graves is over 6 kg. The finds consist of various jewellery and dress decorations, diadems,  but as well scepters with gold plated handles, gold painted pottery , etc. There were discovered also copper-, stone- and flintstone tools, arms, decorations made of shells imported from Mediterranean, potery and more. Interesting artifacts are the armaments from the Middle and Late Bronze Age (16th – 12 c. BC); the collection of Ancient terracotta figurines and painted utensils (6th – 2nd c. BC) from Odessos; the Roman glass and pottery vessels, lamps, marble sculptures and bas-reliefs (1st – 3rd c. AD); the rich collection of ancient gold and silver jewelry (5th c. BC – 6th c. AD) discovered mostly in Odessos. Some of them are unique in shape and craftsman’ work. On display in the museum are also Early Christian mosaics (5th c. AD); the richest collection in Bulgaria of Early Medieval belt ornaments (9th – 11th c.); Medieval chest- and procession crosses (10th – 14th c.), ceramics from 16th – 18th c. etc. The largest in Europe collection of gold and silver jewelry and male belts dated 13th – 14th c. is unique by itself, which is presented in two rooms. By tradition there is a permanent exhibition of Eastern Orthodox icons painted between 14th and 19th century in the museum, part of its prssious icon collection. Within the city may be visited the fourth largest Roman thermae in Europe and among the ruins are located the remains of one of the Medieval Varna churches, St. George (13th – 14th c.). Some 18 km north of Varna is located a partially dstructed Medieval rock-cut monastery: Aladzha monastery. There are some nice 14th c. wall paintings that survived in a chapel and an attractive museum situated in a natural park environment. There is an exposition including Early Christian mosaics from Odessos (5th c. AD) as well as icons and church plate of 18th – 19th centuries.
It is worth to visit in the city also: the very attractive Ethnographic Museum; the Museum of Bulgarian Revival (with collections of 18th-19th c.); The Museum of Varna City (showing in originals the life here in late 19th – early 20th c.); The Maritime Museum and the Museum of Medecine History. There is also an Aquarium, a Dolphinarium and ca 10 km West of Varna is located a Natural phaeonmenon: a petrified forest, the locality is called “Pobiti kamani”.

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Tourist Information LINKS:      

Visual Material

(plans, maps, photos etc from the city and the harbor)

Writer / Date
Alexander Minchev, March – August 2013
This website has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of European Centre for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments and can in no way reflect the views of the European Union