During the last few years, the name of Perperikon,
situated in the Balkan Penincula in the southern part of Bulgaria at some 20 km
to the northeast of the town of Kardzhali, in the wilderness of the Eastern
Rodopi Mountains made quite a stir. In the year 2000 AD, this has been still a
small rocky summit, densely overgrown with thorny shrubs and blackberries. Here
and there one could see masonry walls and deeply hewn crevices in the living
rock left by ancient cultures, long ago extinct.
Once, archaeological excavations were
carried out on this hill, but the pits were long ago abandoned and overgrown
with weeds. A few years ago even the people from the nearby villages have
forgotten the paths leading uphill.
Under such conditions, in the sultry
August of 2000, a small group of students started to clear out the wild growth
there. The time available to them was limited, the money – next to nothing and
this made their professor to work on equal terms with them. However, everything
was forgotten when before the eyes of the explorers the outlines of rooms,
corridors, huge halls began to take shape. We had got into a grandiose ancient
palace, perfectly preserved because its entire lower floors were hewn in the
The news spread in the media with
lightening speed. They immediately called Perperikon “the Sacred City of
Thracians” though the archaeological evidence was still very scarce. Along with
Bulgarian TVs, radios and newspapers, CNN, RTL, EuroNews also broadcast
extensive coverage. Even the great National Geographic showed interest in the
But the difficulties were yet to come.
It is a well – known fact that the media are quick on the uptake and in rising
someone or something but as easily forget about him or it. To us, the most
important thing was to find the considerable funds needed to start real research
work on a large scale in the coming year. And funds we found, naturally with
great efforts. For the first time in a decade Bulgarian government, through the
Ministry of Finance extended a large–scale financial aid to support purposefully
an archaeological project. And this has been going for several years now.
It became clear that Perperikon had a
7000 year history beginning in the depth of pre-historic times and lasting until
the late Middle Ages. An exceptionally vigorous bloom in the in the Thracian
proper and in the Roman times started to emerge, thus filling out the newspaper
headings “The Sacred City of Thracians”. Then a period of a magnificent Middle
Ages culture had followed, which was comparable to that of Constantinople.
After 2003, a real “boom” in tourist
visits to the site. Only for the period 2003 – 2004, hundreds oh thousands of
people from the country and abroad climbed up the hill to see Perperikon with
their own eyes.
Perperikon is not the only
archaeological monument in the Eastern Rodopi Mountains. It has turned out the
rock city was the center of an entire culture, which had been created through
the millennia in the eastern and middle parts of the mountain. The main and
basic feature of this culture was the colossal forms and premises hewn in the
living rock by human hand, which had shaped in the majestic rocks vaults,
temples, and whole cities. The following pages will be dedicated to this