Ancient Thracian Shrine Beglik Tash near Bulgaria’s Black Sea Resort Primorsko Attracts over 40,000 Visitors Annually

A general view of the Ancient Thracian rock shrine Beglik Tash near the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Primorsko. Photo: Ivo Filipov, Wikipedia

A general view of the Ancient Thracian rock shrine Beglik Tash near the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Primorsko. Photo: Ivo Filipov, Wikipedia

The Ancient Thracian rock shrine of Beglik Tash, which is located near the Bulgarian Black Sea resort town of Primorsko, is visited by more than 40,000 tourists every year, according to data of Primorsko Municipality.

The potential of the Thracian shrine of Beglik Tash and several other archaeological, historical, and cultural landmarks is yet to be developed in depth, Primorsko Mayor Dimitar Germanov has pledged in an interview for Stroitelstvo Imoti.

“We have the Thracian shrine Beglik Tash, we have the Ranuli Fortress, and last year we excavated [the Ancient Thracian fortress] Pharmakida. There is interest in these places. We already have over 40,000 visitors [annually] at Beglik Tash,” Germanov is quoted as saying.

He believes that while in the past decades the Black Sea town of Primorsko may have been overshadowed by other Bulgarian sea and cultural tourism hubs such as Sozopol (ancient Apollonia Pontinca) and Nessebar (ancient Messembria) thanks to their well researched history since Ancient Greek and Ancient Thracian times, the archaeological discoveries in recent years in the Beglik Tash shrine, the Thracian city of Ranuli, and the newly found Thracian fortress of Pharmakida in the Strandzha Mountain are already allowing Primorsko Municipality to compete with the others as a cultural tourism destination.

“We’ve recently achieved something that had been a dream of the residents of Primorsko – we opened a history museum… We are developing cultural and historical tourism. This is the future. Lots of tenacious, pro-active work is required for that, and this is the main commitment of our administration,” Mayor Germanov says.

He adds that the Town Council of Primorsko has recently decided to seek EU funding together with Meric, Edirne Province, a partnering municipality from Turkey, under the Interreg Program for three projects for development of cultural tourism.

One of the projects provides for improving access to the megalithic Ancient Thracian shrine of Beglik Tash by purchasing electric cars that will be used to transport tourists from the Primorsko Museum of History to the megalithic site, and the natural landmarks nearby.

A map of the Ancient Thracian megalithic shrine of Beglik Tash near Bulgaria's Primorsko. Photo: Ivo Filipov, Wikipedia

A map of the Ancient Thracian megalithic shrine of Beglik Tash near Bulgaria’s Primorsko. Photo: Ivo Filipov, Wikipedia

Primorsko Municipality has already purchased a property modeled according to 19th century Bulgarian architecture (from the National Revival Period) for a tourist information center in the town of Novo Panicharevo. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

Primorsko Municipality has already purchased a property modeled according to 19th century Bulgarian architecture (from the National Revival Period) for a tourist information center in the town of Novo Panicharevo. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

Another cultural heritage project provides for the establishment of a visitors’ center in the town of Novo Panicharevo which will also be used to exhibit historical artifacts.

Germanov also points out that Primorsko Municipality recently managed to convince the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters to allow the establishment of an eco trail between the Ancient Thracian rock shrine of Beglik Tash and the Thracian fortress Ranuli, which are located on the same plateau near the Black Sea coast.

He adds that 42% of the territory of Primorsko Municipality falls in protected areas and nature preserves, and that it has not been as overdeveloped as most of the other Bulgarian Black Sea municipalities.

Also check out our other recent stories on the archaeological excavations and discoveries in the Black Sea municipality Primorsko:

Bulgaria’s Black Sea Town Primorsko Showcases Artifacts from Newly Discovered Ancient Thracian Fortress Pharmakida

Newly Found Fortress Pharmakida near Bulgaria’s Primorsko Was Fortified Residence of Ancient Thracian Ruler, Archaeologists Conclude

Bulgarian Archaeologists to Excavate for the First Time Thracian Black Sea City Ranuli Dating Back to Trojan War Era

Bulgaria’s Black Sea Resort Primorsko Opens Brand New History Museum with Rich Archaeological Collections

Background Infonotes:

The Ancient Thracian shrine of Beglik Tash near the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Primorsko is located on the plateau with the same name, which also harbors the Ancient Thracian city Ranuli.

The Beglik Tash Shrine has been explored by Bulgarian archaeologists have explored since 2002. Archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov has discovered there a second “womb-case” located under the Lion’s Head hill, after having found one in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. The cave goes down to a depth of five meters.

Inside, Ovcharov has found ceramics from the Early Iron Age (10th-6th century BC), the Antiquity, and the Middle Ages, as well as a man-made stone altar at the end of the natural cave which proves that it was used as a shrine. Every day at noon, a ray of sunlight enters the narrow entrance of the cave, and projects itself on the back of cave.

This is precisely the concept of the Ancient Thracian womb-caves described by late Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Alexander Fol, the founder of thracology, the study of Ancient Thrace. Fol hypothesized that some caves in Bulgaria where the sunlight entered only at certain times of the day where seen by the Thracians as acts of symbolic fertilization of the Earth womb or the Mother Goddess by the sun phallus of the Sun God generating fertility.

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The Ancient Thracian city of Ranuli is situated 5 km north of the modern-day Bulgarian Black Sea resort town of Primorsko, Burgas District. It is located on the Beglik Tash plateau, which is also the site of an Ancient Thracian megalithic shrine, and 1 km away from the mouth where the Ropotamo River flows into the Black Sea. Its fortress is located on a rocky hill known today as “The Lion’s Head”, which was created by the paleo-vulcano “Rosen” some 70-65 million years ago. The ancient city Ranuli had not been excavated until the beginning of the 21st century because it is located in the Ropotamo Nature Preserve.

The structure of Ranuli’s fortress wall has led the archaeologists to date it to the era of the Crete-Mycenaean Civilization, 1,600-1,400 BC, which is about the same period when the Ancient Thracian megalithic rock city of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria flourished; it certainly was a thriving city at the time of the Trojan War, ca. 1,300-1,200 BC. Traces of prehistoric life have also been discovered but the fortress construction destroyed much of the earlier remains. During the time of the Roman Empire Ranuli is believed to have been one of the major cities on the Western Black Sea coast. Ruins of a medieval church indicate that the Ranuli Fortress was also used by the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire in the Middle Ages.

According to the Malamirovo (or Hambarli) Inscription of Khan (or Kanas) Krum (r. 803-814), ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD), which was recorded in stone in 813 AD, and in the Greek language, the fortress of Ranuli, together with other fortresses on the western Black Sea coast were part of Bulgaria.

Legends from the 19th century have it that Bulgarian Voevode Valchan, a guerrilla fighter against the Ottoman Empire, used the fortress as a hideout, and hid a treasure of gold coins down a well there after robbing a Turkish ship in the mouth of the Ropotamo River. That is why it is also known as “Valchan’s Kale” (“kale “is the Turkish word for fortress).