Bulgaria’s Kardzhali to Restore 11 Structures in Ancient, Medieval Rock City Perperikon with EEA/Norway Grant

One of the towers of the ancient and medieval Thracian, Roman, and Bulgarian fortress in the rock city of Perperikon is still standing, as viewed before its restoration. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

One of the towers of the ancient and medieval Thracian, Roman, and Bulgarian fortress in the rock city of Perperikon is still standing, as viewed before its restoration. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

A total of 11 structures inside the medieval Bulgarian fortress of Perperikon, which also harbors a prehistoric, Ancient Thracian and Roman rock city, will be restored by the southern Kardzhali Municipality under its project funded by the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Grants.

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture and the southern Kardzhali Municipality have signed a grant contract for the restoration of the medieval Bulgarian fortress of Perperikon, which also harbors a prehistoric, Ancient Thracian and Roman rock city, with funding provided from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Grants.

The contract for the grant provided by the EEA and Norway development mechanism for the partial restoration of Perperikon, which is worth EUR 748,203, was recently signed by Kardzhali Municipality and Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture, which administers the grants.

The grant is provided from the EEA/Norway Grants mechanism under a measure for the restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation of cultural heritage.

The ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon has seen several major civilizations. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

The ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon has seen several major civilizations. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

The project entitled “Perperikon – Past for the Future” provides for the restoration and exhibition of 3 altars, 4 residential buildings, a water tank, the fortress wall of the Perperikon acropolis with 2 bastions, a polygonal fortress tower, and streets in the ancient and medieval city.

According to Kardzhali Mayor Hasan Azis, the new project is a “natural continuation” of the project entitled “Perperikon – Home of Gods and People” for the further excavation and conservation of the ancient and medieval rock city, which was completed in 2014 with EU funding under Operational Program “Regional Development”.

“We have worked on this project for over 3 years, and at first the funding proposal was rejected but after a plea with the commission, and a year-long struggle, we won,” says Kardzhali Mayor Hasan Azis, as cited by the Cross news agency.

“The main goal of the project is to restore, preserve, and promote the [Perperikon] archaeological complex as a unique part of Bulgaria’s cultural heritage,” he explains.

As part of the project, in 2016, Kardzhali Municipality will be holding a three-day seminar to promote the archaeological site of Perperikon with the participation of cultural heritage experts, archaeologists, historians, and architects from Bulgaria and the donor countries – Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein.

The ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon is located in Bulgaria's Kardzhali Municipality, in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

The ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon is located in Bulgaria’s Kardzhali Municipality, in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

In September 2014, the local authorities completed their EU funded project for excavations and improvement of the tourist infrastructure of the ancient and medieval rock city which 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 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.

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.

11 different structures will be restored with EEA/Norway money in Bulgaria's ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

11 different structures will be restored with EEA/Norway money in Bulgaria’s ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

The EEA/Norway Grant mechanism is a major source of financial support for the restoration and preservation of Bulgaria’s archaeological sites and cultural heritage monuments.

In addition to the EEA/Norway grant worth EUR 748,000 provided to Kardzhali Municipality in Southern Bulgaria for the partial restoration of the acropolis of the ancient and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon, the mechanism is presently also funding several other cultural heritage projects in Bulgaria.

A 16th century arch bridge from the period of the Ottoman Empire will be restored by the municipal authorities in the southern Bulgarian town of Svilengrad with funding provided from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Grants mechanism.

Also recently, Bulgaria’s Plovdiv signed a EUR 740,000 EEA/Norway grant contract for the “digitization”, i.e. filming, photographing, 3D presentation, and web publication of its archaeological and historical heritage.

In addition to Plovdiv, the northern Bulgarian town of Tutrakan has also won an EEA/Norway grant of EUR 250,000 for the “digitization” of its archaeological heritage, including the Ancient Roman fortress Transmarisca on the Danube.

Another EEA/Norway grant worth EUR 736,000 has been provided recently to Pavlikeni Municipality in Northern Bulgarian for the restoration of an Ancient Roman ceramic factory at a Roman military veteran’s villa estate.

Background Infonotes:

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.