|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.
|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
|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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