Archaeological, Cultural Sites in Bulgaria’s Petrich Saw 28,000 Tourists in 2015, Ancient City Heraclea Sintica ‘Not Counted’
The archaeological, historical, and cultural sites in the southwestern Bulgarian town of Petrich which are managed by the Petrich Museum of History, welcomed a total of 27,700 tourists in 2015.
The number of tourists, which includes both Bulgarians and international travelers, has been announced by the Museum Director Sotir Ivanov, as cited by the local daily Struma.
The total number, however, does not include the visitors of the ruins of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city of Heraclea Sintica.
It turns out that even though Heraclea Sintica enjoys a large number of tourists, its site does not feature any permanent museum staff.
While tour guides are available from the Petrich Museum of History by request, a lot of visitors are known to be arriving on the site on their own, including travelers driving on the nearby highway connecting Bulgaria and Greece.
Ivanov says the Petrich Museum of History is now going to ask Petrich Municipality for the formal recognition of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city as a landmark for cultural tourism.
Heraclea Sintica is still being actively explored by the Bulgarian archaeologists, with the latest excavations in September 2015 revealing a large Early Hellenistic building.
Ivanov has confirmed that the Petrich Museum and Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia are going to carry out new digs at the ancient city in 2016.
The total number of 27,700 tourists includes the visitors of three sites – the main exhibitions of the Petrich Museum of History, the home of late Bulgarian clairvoyant Baba Vanga (Vangeliya Gushterova) (1911-1996) in the nearby town of Rupite, and the Samuil’s Fortress which is named after Tsar Samuil (r. 997-1014 AD), who led the resistance of the First Bulgarian Empire against Byzantium in a 40-year-long war of attrition.
Unlike the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica, Vanga’s home and Samuil’s Fortress have permanent museum staff, and are open for visitors 7 days a week.
Heraclea Sintica is an Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city located near the town of Petrich in Southwest Bulgaria. It was the center of the ancient region of Sintica along the Struma River, which was inhabited by the Thracian tribe of the Sintians.
The ancient city of Heraclea Sintica was mentioned by Homer, Herodotos, and Thycudides in their works. It was founded around 300 BC by Cassander, King of the Kingdom of Macedon (r. 305-297 BC), who also founded Thessaloniki. In the not so distant past, the location of the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica was a matter of contention between archaeologists from Bulgaria and Greece.
In 2002, Bulgarian archaeologists managed to identify the city for sure after they found a Latin inscription dated back to 308 AD, in which Roman Emperor Galerius (r. 293-305 AD as Caesar, 305-311 AD as Augustus) addressed the local urban citizens of Heraclea Sintica responding to a plea to restore their lost civil rights.
In the late Antiquity, the city of Heraclea Sintica gradualy waned and was replaced by nearby Sveti Vrach (today’s town of Sandanski) as a regional center. In recent years, Heraclea Sintica has been excavated by Ass. Prof. Dr. Lyudmil Vagalinski, director of Bulgaria’s National Institute of Archaeology with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Sotir Ivanov, director of the Petrich Museum of History.