Archaeology Museum in Bulgaria’s Varna Boasts Historic 120-Year-Old Heaters Made in Austria-Hungary

These 120-year-old Austro-Hungarian made radiators are still heating the building of the Archaeology Museum in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna. Photo: BGNES

These 120-year-old Austro-Hungarian made radiators are still heating the building of the Archaeology Museum in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna. Photo: BGNES

The Museum of Archaeology in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna is famous for stunning archaeological artifacts such as the Varna Gold Treasure, the world’s oldest gold; however, it also boasts operational historic heaters (radiators).

The heaters in the Varna Museum of Archaeology are more than 120 years old, and can easily pass for historical items on display.

In fact, they have recently started attracting the interest of Bulgarian and international tourists, reports the BGNES news agency.

The radiators were produced in Austria-Hungary at the end of the 19th century when they were specially ordered, delivered and installed in the building of today’s Varna Museum of Archaeology.

Back then, however, and up until the 1980s, the building housed Varna’s all-girls high school.

The Austro-Hungarian 19th century heaters are made of cast iron, and are shaped as semi-circles. They use less water than modern-day central heating systems, and are said to produce more heat. They are also said to require less maintenance and fewer repairs.

The 120-year-old heaters recently impressed France’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes, during a visit in Varna, Prof. Valentin Pletnyov, Director of the Varna Museum of Archaeology, has told Darik News Varna.

The building of Varna’s all-girls high school was built at the end of the 19th century; the first time it hosted a museum exhibition was in 1906.

In 1983, the former all-girls high school was remodeled to house the Varna Museum of Archaeology.

The building has been granted the status of a monument of culture, and the Varna Museum of Archaeology itself is on the list of Bulgaria’s Top 100 Tourism Sites.

The 120-year-old heaters in the Varna Museum of Archaeology can pass for historical museum artifacts. Photos: BGNES

The 120-year-old heaters in the Varna Museum of Archaeology can pass for historical museum artifacts. Photos: BGNES

Heaters Varna Museum of Archaeology 4 Heaters Varna Museum of Archaeology 3Background Infonotes:

The dawn of Varnas history dates back to the dawn of human civilization, the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis being especially well known with the discovery of the world’s oldest find of gold artifacts dating back to the 5th millenium BC.

Ancient Odessos is considered the precursor of the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna. It was founded by Miletian Greek colonists at the end of 7th century BC, the earliest Greek archaeological material dating back to 600-575 BC.

However, the Greek colony was established within an earlier Ancient Thracian settlement, and the name Odessos had existed before the arrival of the Miletian Greeks and might have been of Carian origin. Odessos as the Roman city of Odessus became part of the Roman Empire in 15 AD when it was incorporated in the Roman province Moesia. Roman Odessos is especially known today for its well preserved public baths, or thermae, the largest Roman single structure remains in Bulgaria, and the fourth largest Roman public baths known in Europe.

The First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD) conquered Odessos (Varna) from Romes successor, the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, in the late 7th century. It is even believed that the peace treaty in which the Byzantine Empire recognized the ceding of its northern territories along the Danube to Bulgaria was signed in Odessos.

The wall (rampart) that the first ruler of Danube Bulgaria, Khan (or kanas) Asparuh built at the time as a defense against future Byzantine incursions is still standing. Numerous Ancient Bulgar settlements around Varna have been excavated, and the First Bulgarian Empire had its first two capitals Pliska (681-893 AD) and Veliki (Great) Preslav (893-970 AD) just 70-80 km to the west of Varna.

It is suggested that the name of Varna itself is of Bulgar origin. In the Middle Ages, as a coastal city, Varna changed hands between Bulgaria and Byzantium several times. It was reconquered for the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) by Tsar Kaloyan (r. 1197-1207 AD) in 1201 AD.