There are several tombs you can plan to visit while in Kazanlak / Bulgaria. Here are instructions on how to get to them. WE assume you are capable of making it to Kazanlak 🙂 from your location in Bulgaria….
Most tourists end up visiting at least the so called "Kazanlak Thracian Tomb" which is probably the most well known in and out of Bulgaria. The Kazanlak Tomb is located about 1 – 1.5km from the center of town in its North East part in a hilly neighborhood known as "Тюлбето” (Tiulbeto). It is about 15min walking distance from the central square of the town, or you could drive there (about 5min). The tomb is open between 9am and 5pm and if you go to Kazanlak in the winter or spring, the tomb is open only for large groups.
If you would like to try your skills you could even check on current conditions and status via phone +359 – 431 63762 (359 is the code for dialing Bulgaria — assuming you are using your overseas mobile phone even while in Bulgaria)
The second tomb we recommend you try to visit is "Goliamata Kosmatka" (which was the topic of our previous blog posting). The tomb is located well outside of Kazanlak on the road to Shipka / North West of town. If you are driving yourself, just take the road to Shipka (also the same road that will take you through the Shipka mountain pass to the town of Gabrovo and Northern Bulgaria). Once you leave Kazanlak, you will pass by the village of Krqn and next you should look for the brown color signs on the road — they announce the various tombs in the valley. You should see a turn off for the Goliamata Kosmakta tomb (mogila) well before you reach the village of Shipka – it will be a left turn if coming from Kazanlak
If you desire to do some good exercise and if the weather is nice you could take a 2 hour hike to the tomb (from downtown Kazanlak) – the distance is about 12km (0.8miles).
I need to point out also that in each / or most of the tombs you could request a guided tour – where you will hear narrative from a lecturer from the Kazanlak ISKRA museum — an excellent museum in Kazanlak hosting a large number of exhibits on the topic of Thracian culture as well as Bulgarian art, etc.
Here is a link to the museum — limited information but still…. http://museum.starazagora.net/English/others/EKazanluk.html
And another link http://kazanlaktour.com/en/index.php?s=30
(The museum ISKRA is located about 5 min walk from the main town square)
Well we hope this is useful for your adventures in the VALLEY OF THRACIAN KINGS!
Next, will bring you a recommendation for a place to go see how the famous rose oil is made and enjoy a beautiful rose garden….
In the previous posting on this topic we briefly touched on the fact that the "Goliama Kosmatka" tomb is being considered as the tomb of one of the more powerful Thracian kings – SEVT the III, who was probably also the ruler of Seuthopolis (which is located on the bottom of today's "Koprinka" dam south-west of Kazanlak.
So about the "Goliama Kosmatka" tomb (in Bulgarian the formations that contain these tombs are called "MOGILA" – sort of the meaning of a small HILL):
Goliamata Kosmatka was discovered in the Fall of 2004 during one of the expeditions in the Kazanlak region. The hill was first created in the first half of the 5th century B.C. as a sacred hill (sort of a temple) and then in the 2nd half of the 5th century B.C. a temple was built using granite blocks (very big blocks mind you — as you see in the photos below)
The temple consists of three sections – a rectangular room, followed by a circular room, followed by a sarcophagus room carved out of a single HUGE granite block with weight of approximately 60-tons
The temple is thought of first being used for about 100 years by the Thracian priests which kept their mysteries alive by locking the inner circular room from inside during their ceremonies.
At the start of 3rd century B.C. the temple is thought of becoming a tomb for Sevt the III. The tomb contained coins with the liking of a bronse head discovered about 7m from the tomb chamber at the entrance of the mogila/tomb. Also discovered were a golden wreath (symbol of a king), as well as other gold ornaments and cups. Also discovered were three amphorae two of which were from the island of Taos, with seals noting manufacture in the begining of the 3rd century B.C., additionally a metal armor was discovered and the helmet has an inscription in Greek meaning "SEVT's"
All in all majority of the discovered artifacts point to the time of SEVT III's rule hence this tomb has been associated with his most likely burial site.
Earlier this summer – during August – my family and I managed to carve some time away from work (and games for my daughter 🙂 ) to go to Bulgaria. While there we were able to visit several of the ancient Thracian Tombs in the so called Valley of the Thracian Kings. So first of all I immediately expect you to ask the question — "What is the Valley of the Thracian Kings"? I bet most of you have not heard of it. So here is a summary from what we learned while visiting that region.
First of all it is located in Southern Bulgaria — in a valley bordered by the Balkan range on the North and the so called in Bulgarian Middle Mountain – to the South…although more recent discoveries have found additional burial sites to the South of the Middle Mountain as well – in the region on Nova Sagora.
One of the key parts of the Valley is the settlement / town of Seuthopolis, which interestingly enough was discovered in the period between 1948 and 1954 during the construction of the Koprinka dam. It is probably the only preserved (since it has spent most of its recent time being under water and away from pilfering) ancient Thracian city. The settlement was the capital of the Odris state from the late IV century – beginning of III century BC — and the king of that state at the time was Sevt the III — hence the name of the city. In Kazanlak there is a spectacular museum which hosts a large exhibit on the limited knowledge which is out there on Sevt III as well as copies of artifacts that were discovered in his burrial tomb.
Here is another map which I borrowed (credit is due to the Kazanlak tourist / information center) so to give you an idea of the location of the ancient city of Seuthopolis and the tombs that constitute the Valley of the Thracian Kings
In a follow on posting I will provide more information on Sevt the III, and the burial tomb which is being considered as the tomb of Sevt the III. The name of the tomb is "Goliama Kosmatka" and more about it in the next posting….