Bulgarian Archaeologist to Restore Megalithic City Perperikon’s Medieval Fortress with Norway Funding
Some of the major medieval structures of the medieval Bulgarian fortress of Perperikon, which also harbors a prehistoric, Ancient Thracian and Roman rock city, are to be restored with funding from the Norwegian government, archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov has announced.
Prof. Ovcharov, who has been excavating the ancient and medieval rock city in the Rhodope Mountain in Southern Bulgaria since 2000, has explained that a project for the partial restoration of Perperikon has won a grant of a little under BGN 2 million (app. EUR 1 million), after being ranked fifth out of a total of seven projects approved for funding from the Norwegian government under the so called Norway Grants program.
The funding will be used exclusively for conservation and restoration of medieval structures from the megalithic complex of Perperikon, Ovcharov has said, speaking at a special news conference in Sofia, as cited by the Bulgarian daily Novinar.
He reminds that September 2014 marked the completion of a project for excavations and improvement of the tourist infrastructure of the ancient and medieval rock city located 15 km away from the southern Bulgarian city of Kardzhali. The project was funded by the EU, and was worth a total of BGN 3.7 million (app. EUR 1.9 million).
However, no major restorations of any of the archaeological structures at Perperikon have been carried out to date.
The funding from the Norway government will be utilized to restore the medieval fortress tower of Perperikon, part of which is still standing, and to rebuild fully the northern wall of the citadel fortress and the walls of the former archbishop’s palace.
The restorations of ancient and medieval fortresses and castles, which are lavishly funded with EU money for the development of cultural tourism, have recently caused a heated public debate in Bulgaria over some cases of outrageously botched executions denigrating the historical monuments.
Prof. Ovcharov, however, has vowed he is going to exert personal control over the restoration of the Perperikon fortress in order to preserve its authentic appearance, and that the structures will not be fully rebuilt, unlike the cases with some of the flawed restorations.
As part of the Norway-funded project, Perperikon will be filmed digitally, and tourists will be able to view its acropolis in 3D film.
Some of the most exciting prehistoric, ancient, and medieval finds from the 2014 excavations at Perperikon have recently been presented during the 8th Annual Exhibit “Bulgarian Archaeology 2014” in Sofia.
Perperikon (also called Perperek or Perperik) is an ancient rock city located in the Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria, 15 km away from the city of Kardzhali. It is a large-scale archaeological complex including historical monuments from different ages. Those include a megalithic sanctuary dating back to the Neolithic Age, the 6th millennium BC, a Bronze Age settlement, and a holy rock city established by the Ancient Thracians later taken over by the Romans, Goths, and Byzantines, respectively. In the Middle Ages, especially during the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), it was the site of a strong fortress and a royal palace that Bulgaria and Byzantium fought over numerous times. Perperikon has been excavated since 2000 by Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov who has found evidence that the mythical ancient Temple of Dionysius was located there. The rock city and fortress at Perperikon, not unlike the vast majority of the medieval Bulgarian fortresses, were destroyed by the invading Ottoman Turks in the 14th century.