Visitors are seen here in line at the entrance of the Historical Park, a partial replica of the medieval Baba Vida Fortress in Vidin, on the first day of the opening, on Saturday, June 22, 2019. Photo: Historical Park
More than 15,000 people have attended the grand opening of the world’s largest “Historical Park" for cultural tourism, education, and entertainment located in the town of Neofit Rilski, near the Black Sea city of Varna in Northeast Bulgaria.
The Historical Park (more images here) near Varna features numerous replicas of archaeological, historical, and cultural monuments and sites from all over Bulgaria covering history spanning some 10,000 years: from the Neolithic (New Stone Age) all the way to the Second Bulgarian Empire in the Late Middle Ages.
The Historical Park’s construction began back in July 2017. Once fully completed in 2022, it is projected to cover a plot of over 700 decares (173 acres) in Neofit Rilski, Vetrino Municipality, Varna District, some 33 kilometers west of the Black Sea city of Varna.
The park is being built and operated by the Varna-based private company “Historical Park" Jsc. Once completed, according to the estimates, the total investments in it will have reached EUR 250 million (USD 285 million).
The stage of the grand opening of the Historical Park near Bulgaria’s Varna. Photos: Historical Park
Historical Park CEO Ivelin Mihaylov is seen on stage (second on the left). Photos: Varna24
The first day of the opening on June 22 featured a day-long concert with numerous life performances, and was attended by more than 15,000 visitors, according to local news site Varna24.
The second day of the opening featured a medieval festival celebrating the heritage of the medieval Bulgarian Empire.
“We Bulgarians are great people, and just because of this fact we can cope with any difficulties in the world. That is the message of the Historical Park that we wish to send to every single Bulgarian," Ivelin Mihaylov, CEO of the Historical, and the person who came up with the idea for the project, stated at the opening.
“Our message to the foreign visitors is to show them our [Bulgaria’s] contribution in the making of world history," he added, referring to the fact that the park company is hoping to attract huge numbers of international tourists visiting Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast but not only.
The Historical Park is designed to reenact the development of human civilization on Bulgaria’s territory, which actually goes back to its dawn, with stunning Prehistory settlements and artifacts such as the 7,000-year-old Varna Gold Treasure, the world’s oldest gold treasure.
The replicas of historical and archaeological sites and monuments in the Historical Park will be from the Neolithic (New Stone Age), the Chalcolithic (Copper Age, Aeneolithic), the Antiquity of Ancient Thrace, the Antiquity and Late Antiquity of the Roman Empire, and the Middle Ages of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680 – 1018), and the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 – 1396/1422).
The visitors of the Historical Park’s opening were able to see the zones with the first three time periods in the Historical Park: the Neolithic, the Chalcolithic, and Ancient Thrace, including replicas of three Thracian tombs and a Thracian royal palace, together with settlements of the Ancient Bulgars and the Slavs.
The Neolithic Home replicas before the opening. Photos: Historical Park
The Neolithic Homes in the Historical Park on opening day. Photos: Varna24
The zones for the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, i.e. the First and Second Bulgarian Empires, will be built subsequently. The Historical Park in Northeast Bulgaria is planned to be completed in full in 2022.
In the 8 years since the work on the future Historical Park near Varna began, it has involved over 4,000 people.
These include some of the leading archaeologists as consultants as well as historians, artisans, reenactors, sculptors, writers, musicians, aiming for the realistic look of the Historical Park.
Some of the park’s most important consultants include archaeologists Prof. Margarita Vaklinova, former Director of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, and Prof. Hitko Vachev from the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History as well as thracologist Prof. Ivan Marazov.
A 14-meter-tall bronze statue of a Thracian Archer greets the visitors of the Historical Park at its entrance. Photo: Historical Park
The Ancient Thracian royal palace before the opening. Photo: Historical Park
Visitors are seen viewing the Thracian palace on opening day. Photos: Varna24
Three replicas of researched Thracian tombs in Bulgaria feature prominently in the Historical Park. Photos: Varna24
The materials used for the structures of the Park and its replicas of archaeological and historical sites and monuments were authentic for the respective historical periods: stone, wood, marble, and pottery.
Numerous other structures will be featured including Neolithic and Chalcolithic homes, a Thracian royal palace and three Thracian burial mounds with tombs, medieval churches, Roman and Byzantine Era tracks for horse and chariot races.
The Historical Park has been constructed gradually, with the company launching back in 2016 its pilot project, the Neolithic Settlement complex in Neofit Rilski, Varna District.
After the opening, the park management announced that the facility will be re-opened for visitors in three weeks, as of July 15, 2019, in order to make up for construction delayed because of the unfavorable weather in the period before the opening.
The management says it expects at least 300,000 visitors in the first year of operation of the Historical Park, and even larger numbers in the following years.
A medieval festival took place on the second day of the Historical Park’s opening. Photo: Historical Park