Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Cultural Landscape

The Valley of Thracian Kings

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The Valley of Thracian Kings

About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road, Eastern Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Bulgaria, Kazanlak
Type: Ancient Site, Cultural Landscape
Epoch: Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity
World Heritage:
AntiquityAntiquityAncient SiteCultural Landscape

The Thracians, the ancient inhabitants on these lands, left deep traces with the created culture. The numerous tumuli necropolises are valuable source of information for their spiritual life and philosophy. The Thracian tumuli and tombs are scattered all along our land. However their main concentration is in the present region Thrace, where during the V-ІІІc. BC spread one of the largest state unions in South Eastern Europe - the Odryssae state. This is the reason why the presently well known Valley of roses could be called also the Valley of Thracian Kings.
The under-hill tombs and various burial structures reveal the philosophy of the Thracians for life after death. The complex consists of the tomb of Seuthes III in the Golyamata Kosmatka tumulus, the mausoleum tomb in the Ostrousha tumulus, the Thracian tombs “The Griffins”, “Helvezia”, “Shoushmanets”, “The Large Arsenal”, the tomb in Sasheva tumulus and “Kran-I” and “Kran-II”.
In the Golyamata Kosmatka tumulus is hidden one of the largest and richest Thracian tombs. It is presumed that is dates back to the end of 5th and the beginning of 4th c. BC. It consists of three chambers and dromos (corridor) 26 m long all together. In the first chamber – rectangular, with a double-pitched rounded ceiling – the archaeologists discovered a horse skeleton that was sacrificed. At the entrance of the second chamber – circular with a dome, 4.5 m high – was discovered a marble gate, decorated with human images, part of them being women heads, imitations of iron nails, as well as with plastic ornaments, coloured in blue and red. Stonewalls block the access to the third chamber. This chamber is hewn into a granite block, weighing over 60 tons and is covered with a stone block triangular in cross-section. Thus the whole chamber resembles a sarcophagus in the inner part of which is moulded the ritual bed of the Thracian ruler. This is an evidence that this chamber was used for a symbolic funeral with rich gifts, about 20 golden objects of which were found. This tomb is related to the great Thracian king Seuthes III, who built his capital Seuthopolis a few kilometres to the south of the tumulus – found at present at the bottom of Koprinka dam. A proof of the fact that this ruler was buried in the Golyamata Kosmatka tomb are the two discovered vessels on which it was written that they belonged to Seuthes III.
The Thracian complex in the Ostrousha tumulus is one of the largest in Bulgaria. The structure dates back to the mid ІV c. BC and is very complicated. It covers almost 100 square meters and unites 6 premises – 5 rectangular and a round one. Central for the temple is one of the rectangular premises – monolithic, hewn from a huge stone block 2.5 x 3.5 x 2.5 m and weighing over 60 tons. The ceiling is covered with wall paintings – portrays scenes with people and animals, floral and geometrical ornaments. According to archaeologists the temple in Ostrousha was originally a surface temple, with its back only against the tumulus mound. It was an imposing building with impressive facades, pediments with architectural details on them.
The tomb from the tumulus The Griffins is the best preserved atone dome tomb, used in 5th -4th c. BC as mausoleum. The Thracian tomb Helvezia dates back to 5th – 4th c. BC. It is built of huge stone blocks linked together with cramps. It consists of a long corridor, rectangular antechamber and a burial chamber. The antechamber and the chamber have a double-pitched roof, their walls are plastered with fine limestone plaster, forming rectangular panels as decoration, imitating marble blocks. In front of the entrance are preserved the two grooves for offerings. The tomb in Shoushmanets dates back also to 4th c. BC. It was built well-carved stone blocks. It has a rectangular antechamber with semi-cylindrical vault, with a Ionic column at the entrance. It has around chamber with a dome, while the column in the middle is Doric style.
The Valley of the Thracian kings is a real cultural landscape – a fairy tale of grandeur and eternity.

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