The land of Bulgaria has been inhabited by various tribes, peoples and nations. All of them have left an affluent legacy of architectural monuments and landmarks.

The earliest signs of architectural constructions are prehistoric dwellings around the villages Karanovo and Hotnitsa, as well as the tombs near Kazanlak, Sveshtar and Alexandrovo. However, the real architectural history in the land of Bulgaria started at the beginning of the Thracian
towns (Kabile, Sevtopolis, Pulpudeva) and the Greek colonies (Odesos, Mesambria, Apolonia). Later, when the Romans conquered Trace, they developed and improved many of the existing towns. They added numerous public facilities, amphitheatres, temples, town walls, baths, and military bases. Remnants from Roman architecture can be found in Sofia , Plovdiv , Nesebar, Hisar, Stara Zagora , Varna , Silistra, Ivailovgrad. In 5-6th century early Christian churches were found (“St. Sofia” and “St. George” in Sofia , the old bishop’s residence in Nesebar, the red church near Perushtitsa).
In 681 A.D. the first Bulgarian kingdom was found by Khan Asparuh. By the end of the first millennium many castles, strongholds, temples, palaces, and throne chambers were built. The buildings were decorated with mosaics, ceramic ornaments, stone plastic art, and mural paintings. Unique monument of the Bulgarian plastic art is the Madara Horsemen near Shumen . It is one of kind in Europe from that period. After the
Bulgarians became converted to Christianity in 863 A.D., many Christian temples and churches were built. During the second Bulgarian kingdom the Bulgarian arts and architecture were thriving. Among with splendid castles, many smaller, but better decorated churches were constructed.
In the first centuries under Turkish slavery (1396 – beginning of 18th century), the Bulgarian architecture had primarily a religious character. Most parts of the churches had to be sunken under the surface, because the Muslims did not want to see them from far away. Many monasteries were built or renewed. They were places where many Bulgarians could escape the harsh reality of slavery.
That is why these monasteries were situated in distant places, usually high in the mountains. The most famous of them is the Rila Monastery, which is the biggest on the Balkan Peninsula and is in UNESKO’s list of cultural monuments.
Residential buildings from the Bulgarian Renaissance period are the most popular and common architectural monuments. In many Bulgarian cities (such as Plovdiv , Nesebar, Lovech, Tryavna, Gabrovo, Veliko Turnova, Shiroka Luka, etc.) there are whole neighborhoods with houses from the 18th and 19th century. These places are usually very popular among tourists because they represent the unique Bulgarian architecture from that time. The houses are usually with two and sometimes three floors, as well as a basement that is used for storing goods.
The first floor is made mainly of stone and has fewer windows. The reason for that is the Bulgarians from that time wanted to make their homes as little castles where they can protect themselves from their current enemies, the Turks.Some Bulgarians also used the first floor for domestic animals. The second floor is made of wood and has much more windows. It projects over the street and thus provides bigger area for rooms. This special feature of the second floor is called “erker” or “kioshk”.They are supported by elegantly curved wooden beams.
Another typical thing is the large stone chimney that stands on the roof. Some of the houses have small yards surrounded by thick stone walls that have large wooden decorated doors. After the Liberation in 1878 modern urban planning and development took place in many of the Bulgarian cities, especially in the new capital, Sofia . Many buildings were constructed in the center of Sofia – for example, the National Parliament, the National Theater, “St. Alexander Nevski” church. In the beginning some of the buildings were designed by foreign architects, but in the end of the 19th century the new generation of Bulgarian modern architects started to create various architectural projects in whole Bulgaria . New banks, hotels, residential buildings, railroad stations, and administrative buildings occurred in every big city.
After the World War II a communist government came into power. That is why in the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s the principles of totalitarian architecture, representativeness and impressiveness, were combined with classical architectural forms. As a result, new architectural style could be observed in some buildings in Sofia – for instance, hotel “Balkan”, the Central Shopping Mall, the Communist Party Building , and the Ministry of Electrification Building.
New state designers’ bureaus were created in order to centralize the architectural activities. Some industrial projects and new cities, such as Dimitrovgrad, Madan, and Rudozem, were built. The residential architecture transited from separated houses to large concentrated residential buildings such as apartment houses. The modern architectural tendencies can be found in the seaside resorts “Sunny Seaside”, “Golden Sand”, “Albena”, “Rusalka”, and “Eleni”. Another contemporary architectural project is the National Palace of Culture in Sofia .

After the fall of the communist regime in 1989 private architectural bureaus replaced the state designers’ bureaus, and the construction of buildings was taken by contractors. They started using new modern materials and technologies when they were building new banks and administrative buildings.

The base of the Bulgarian higher architectural education is formed in 1943 with the creation of the Architectural Department in the Higher Technical School . Later a separate university, now known as UACEG ( University of Architecture , Civil Engineering, and Geodesy), became the most prestigious place to study architecture in Bulgaria . Other Bulgarian universities where you can now pursuit an architectural major are the Higher Construction School “Luben Karavelov”, Varna Free University “Chernorizets Hrabar”, and the New Bulgarian University in Sofia .

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