Painted Tomb, Kazanlak

Painted Tomb, Kazanlak


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Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

An original Thracian tomb from 4 th – 3 rd century BC is situated in the Tyulbeto park. It is known as the Kazanlak Tomb. It is under a special storage regime. Its duplicate, constructed in scale 1:1, which presents the architecture, the archaeological materials and the wall-paintings of the Kazanlak Tomb, is situated next to it. This Tomb is one of the most significant monuments of the Thracian culture in the Bulgarian lands, included in the list of the global cultural inheritance of UNESCO in 1979.

The tomb was accidentally found in 1944 in the north-east region of Kazanlak, and it is a significant monument of the Thracian art from the early Hellenistic age.

Based on its architectural outlook, it belongs to the dome tombs, typical for the Thracian funeral architecture from the end of the 5 th and the beginning of the 3 rd century BC.

It is situated in the south part of a sepulchral mound and consists of three premises: a rectangular anteroom, a narrow brick corridor (dromos) and a brick sepulchral chamber with a round plan and a bell-shaped dome.

Two burials had been conducted in the sepulchre – of a man and of a woman, by means of corpse lying, which is evident from the preserved bones. According to the archaeologists, the tomb was robbed as early as in antiquity. Two clay askoses (flat round vessel with two handles) and a silver jug were found in the mound. A clay vessel – oynohoe (wine jug) and horse bones were found in the anteroom. A sharp-bottomed amphora, clay rosette with dry gilding, a funeral crown, small parts of golden jewels and pieces of local Thracian ceramics were found in the dome premise.

The monument owes its global fame to the remarkable wall-paintings in the corridor and the dome premise – one of the best preserved products of the antique painting from the early Hellenistic age. The unknown painter had worked in four basic colors: black, red, yellow and white.

The wall decoration imitates in colors the front wall of a rich construction, coated in marble tiles and ending in architectural details. The warriors presented on the second frieze in the corridor represent a meeting between two enemy troops, and a fight scene is presented on the west wall. The scenes represent a historical event related to the life of the distinguished Thracian ruler buried in the tomb.

Figures of a man and a woman who are sitting by a small table covered in fruits are painted opposite to the entrance, in the dome premise in the center of the main frieze, and around them are presented their servants who are bringing gifts. A scene of a funeral feast with a procession is pictured. The distinguished married couple is crowned with laurel wreaths – a sign of heroisation which was widely popular during the Hellenistic age.

The wall decoration in the upper area of the dome ends with a second small frieze, which pictures three chariots pulled by two horses.

There is a shop for souvenirs and information materials by the duplicate tomb entrance.

The tomb is a part of the Valley of the Thracian Kings, which also includes the temples and the tombs found in the mounds Golyama Kosmatka, Golyama Arsenalka, Shushmanets, Helvetsia, Gryphons, Svetitsa (Female Saint) and Ostrusha.


THE KAZANLAK TOMB – A UNIQUE MONUMENT OF THE THRACIAN PAINTING

With its mural paintings the tomb at the town of Kazanlak is a unique monument of the Thracian painting in the Hellenic period. It had miraculously preserved the paintings almost intact. The tomb was discovered in 1944 in an area called Tulbeto in the northeastern part of Kazanlak. If during your visit in Bulgaria the plane lead you in Burgas or Sofia airport, there is chance to take mini bus or car rental. The main road Burgas – Sofia is passing some meter away from the tomb, so that’s a great possibility. One of the convenient solution to recognize the historical monuments is to take advantage of rent a car in Bulgaria.

In terms of design the Thracian tomb is a beehive domed tomb, typical of the burial Thracian architecture of the period 3rd – 5th c. BC. when the Odrysae kingdom of the dam of Koprinka today enjoyed a great political, economical and cultural uplift. The tomb is of modest size. It consists of an anteroom, corridor ( dromos ) and a small circular burial chamber which is covered with a bell – like dome.

The entrance to the tomb is a rectangular opening, stone – framed and with traces of a metal door once attached to it. The vault of the dromos is of triangular shape. The tomb was built of fried bricks joined with mortar, very much like the tombs, discovered in the necropolis of Seutopolis. The use of fired bricks two centuries before Rome testifies to the advanced level of building technology in the Odrysae state.

The illustrationss are have unique charachter distingquishes from the of the Early Hellenistic time and are considered as the one and only in the history of Bulgarian art. Four basic colors were used : black, red, yellow and white. The techniques employed are two fresco for the ornaments and scenes and tempera for the painting of the floor and the walls.

The scheme of decoration is based on the principle of the Structural style of the Hellenistic decorative painting – with a three-sectioned plinth, painted on the main part of the walls. The frescoes are obviously connected with the warlike exploits of the Thracian nobleman buried in the tomb. The noble couple are crowned with laureal wreaths- a popular symbol of heroism in the Hellenic world.

The realistic frescoes in the tomb are the work of an excellent Thracian artist of the Early Hellenistic period. His style is depicting the Thracian spirit and lifestyle indicate the richness of the Thracian culture. The Thracian tomb at Kazanlak is one of the monuments in Bulgaria taking part in UNESCO `s List of the World Heritage. Some of archeological groups perform interesting trips by rent a car in Bulgaria.


Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

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In the midst of Bulgaria’s fragrant Rose Valley, the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak was discovered in the 1960s. A vaulted brickwork “beehive,” the tomb is part of a larger Thracian necropolis consisting of a corridor and burial chamber decorated with murals that have since been protected as a World Heritage Site.

The murals that decorate the necropolis are of exceptional interest because of their elaborate depictions of a ritual funeral feast, fanciful horses, and traditional gestures of farewell. Near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis, these paintings are one of Bulgaria’s best preserved artifacts from the Hellenistic period.

It is estimated that the tomb was built during the last decades of the 4th century BCE. Atop a rocky hill, it has three chambers required by the Thracian cult of the dead: an antechamber for the chariot, horses, or slaves which accompanied the dead to the afterlife a corridor which stored things needed in the afterlife and a burial chamber for the body itself.


Cultural and Historical Monuments Left by the Thracians in Bulgaria

Even before the New Era the lands of Bulgaria were inhabited by Thracians. Years later, they were conquered by the Romans, but their heritage is preserved in numerous tombs and treasures, revealing the amazing culture. Now I will tell you about the most popular ancient monuments left in Bulgaria.

The Thracian Tomb in Kazanlak - Exquisite Frescoes of 40 sq.m.

The Kazanlak tomb was discovered accidentally on April 19, 1944 by soldiers who were digging for asylum for the war during the Second World War. The great popularity of the Kazanlak tomb is due to its unique frescoes, typical of the early Hellenistic era. Some of the best-preserved frescoes of their time. In the tomb, they spread over 40 sq.m.

The walls of the corridor and the burial chamber are covered with exquisite and sparkling colors and scenes, representing separate moments from the earthly, military, and after lives of the man and woman laid in it. According to historians, it dates from the IV -III century BC. No valuable artifacts have been found there because it was looted in antiquity. In 1979 it was included in the UNESCO list.

Unfortunately for those who want to visit the tomb today, it is now closed to visitors. But next to it is a copy of the tomb, which will completely immerse you in the world of the Thracians.

The Thracian Tomb in Sveshtari - A Unique Thracian Monument

The Thracian Tomb was discovered in 1982. It was built in the first half of the 3rd century BC. with impressive dimensions.It has a length of 7.5 meters and a width of 6.5 meters. The decoration of the burial chamber is extremely beautiful and interesting. It is generally built in a Hellenistic style but is refracted through the beliefs and culture of the Getae. There are also interesting decorations in many places in the tomb, polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals.

The Tomb’s chamber is truly unique because figures of women were used instead of columns. The mastery of their creators is evidenced by the fact that each of them has a different face. Due to its unique architecture and decoration, 3 years after its opening (1985) Sveshtari Tomb is included in the UNESCO list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The Thracian Sanctuary Tatul - the Last Home of Orpheus

The complex consists of an ancient pagan sanctuary and a medieval fortress. Unusually for burials in this era, which took place in mounds underground, the sanctuary was built on a high hill near the sun. This fact suggests that a very important person was buried there - a king or a demigod, such as Orpheus. Or this monument could have been a center for monitoring the sunrises and sunsets on certain days of the year. The sanctuary of Orpheus was known throughout the world both before and after Christ. The newly arrived Romans continued to worship the old gods and heroes, whilst preserving and beautifying the places of worship.

This is a small part of the cultural and historical heritage of Bulgaria, which proves the existence of the Thracians in these lands and tells of long-extinct customs, religions, and ways of life. If you decide to visit Bulgaria , visit one of these places and be moved to the time of Orpheus and the wine god Dionysus.


Monday Ground Up:The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak in Bulgaria

The Tomb of Kazanlak in Bulgaria holds the most well preserved art of the Hellenistic world.

The Tomb of Kazanlak dates back to the fourth century B.C.E and is that of an important chieftain of the Odrysae Tribe. The Odrysae occupied the southern part of the Thracian territory, now central Bulgaria. It’s located 5 miles from Seuthopolis and was surprisingly discovered by accident. When excavation began in 1944, a tholos-a tomb shaped like beehive was discovered intricately decorated with murals of Hellenistic art.

It’s said that the inspiration for the dome came from the Mycenean tombs in Greece, compared to the Treasury of Atreus, however it was built on a much smaller scale. The main burial chamber measures close to 11 feet high and the entire tomb is divided into three sections-the main chamber, antechamber, and a corridor connecting the two.

The murals, which are by far the most well preserved artworks from the Hellenistic world, are painted with battle scenes, gracefully cantering horses, geometric patterns, and a banquet depicting a man bidding farewell to his wife.

The entire tomb is housed under an enclosure and entrance to the tomb is restricted to scholars. The main objective for these stringent rules is to protect the pristine condition of the paintings, therefore allowing the scholars to study the murals in a safe and protective environment. There is, however, a replica nearby that visitors can examine so the real site is never compromised.

The Tomb of Kazanlak was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak in Bulgaria

The geographical center of Bulgaria – between the Stara Planina and Sredna Gora mountains – is known as the Rose Valley. For centuries the fragrant Bulgarian rose has been grown there and the attar of roses is extracted fro the production of rose oil. There, 40 years ago, in the town of Kazanluk a small Thracian Tomb was found, with murals which are of exceptional interest in the world’s cultural heritage. Check the site Ancient Bulgaria

The World Heritage Site also shares some incites into the Tomb of Kazanlak and there's also some interesting reviews and information. There is one in particular from one of Ancient Digger's readers Rossitza Ohridska-Olson.


Investigate Bulgaria – Property & Travel Guide


Bulgaria is recognised as one of the key countries by the World Register of Historical Sites created by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Nine recognised sites include two nature reserves and seven cultural sites. UNESCO was founded on 16 November 1945 after the Second World War. The World Register was established in 1972, with Bulgaria being one of the 20 joint countries participating.

The Bulgarian World Hertiage Site Series by Kate Oakley will look at Heritage Sites throughout Bulgaria, bringing to you exciting and unusual places to visit.

Recent changes in Eastern Europe has brought much of the treasures of Bulgaria to the attention of the world nature parks, Thracian tombs in Kazanlak and Sveshtari, the Horseman of Madara, the Church at Boyana – Sofia, Rock Monasteries in Ivanovo, the Rila Monastery, Old Nesebar, the Nature Reserve at Sreburna and the Pirin National Park, Bulgaria has much to offer both culturally and as a holiday resort.

Thracian tomb – Kazanlak

The Thracian tomb at Kazanlak dates back to the 4th century B.C. Upon encountering the tomb, it appears like a corridor and is approximately 1.95m in length, 1.12m in width and 2.24m in height, which leads to a domed tomb, 3.25m in height and 2.65m in diameter at the base. You don’t really get a feeling of its dome shape until you enter the centre of it.

Forming part of the Hellenistic period, the tomb is located near Seutopolis, the ancient city of the Thracian King Seutes III and was discovered in 1944. Made of brick, the building was used by other conquering forces such as the Romans. Brick and clay form the basis of this beautiful site, where paintings from the Hellenistic period tell stories of ancient Thracian rituals and culture.

The famous mural in the tomb covers an area of up to 40 square meters, exquisitely painted in wet fresco and tempera. Upon entering the tomb from its South facing entrance, you are captivated by its beauty and imagination of the murals that remain a unique feature in Bulgaria and throughout the world.

Visually striking, the mural paints a vivid picture of life in 4th century BC in ancient Bulgaria scenes of battles and day to day living, funeral processions, chariots, horses, the Thracian ruler and his consort along with details of the armoury and clothes worn during that era.

Painted by an unknown painter, the tomb at Kazanlak is highly original. There really seems to be no comparison to its artistry according to experts. When compared to Greek art (as that is the closest comparison), the depictions in the tomb at Kazanlak is much more fluid.

Even the battle scenes are very different in their composition to the way that Greek artists showed battle scenes. According to archaeologists, the tomb at Kazanlak shows no heroic scenes but the painter has focused on different kinds of groups, illustrating the kinds of clothes worn, weapons carried – these are painted in great detail.

The murals at Kazanlak gives us an insight into what was important to the ruling class at that time political achievement over battles won – which sets this mural apart from the classic Greek interpretation of mythological settings of battles and wars.

The murals in the tomb are intact and the colours remain vibrant to this day. Vivid scenes and incredible details of the murals at the Thracian tomb at Kazanlak have ensured a popularity which is enjoyed by both families and students of archaeology.


Kazanlak Tomb

An original Thracian tomb from 4th – 3rd century BC is situated in the Tyulbeto park. It is known as the Kazanlak Tomb. It is under a special storage regime. Its duplicate, constructed in scale 1:1, which presents the architecture, the archaeological materials and the wall-paintings of the Kazanlak Tomb, is situated next to it. This Tomb is one of the most significant monuments of the Thracian culture in the Bulgarian lands, included in the list of the global cultural inheritance of UNESCO in 1979.

The tomb was accidentally found in 1944 in the north-east region of Kazanlak, and it is a significant monument of the Thracian art from the early Hellenistic age.

Based on its architectural outlook, it belongs to the dome tombs, typical for the Thracian funeral architecture from the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC.

It is situated in the south part of a sepulchral mound and consists of three premises: a rectangular anteroom, a narrow brick corridor (dromos) and a brick sepulchral chamber with a round plan and a bell-shaped dome.

Two burials had been conducted in the sepulchre – of a man and of a woman, by means of corpse lying, which is evident from the preserved bones. According to the archaeologists, the tomb was robbed as early as in antiquity. Two clay askoses (flat round vessel with two handles) and a silver jug were found in the mound. A clay vessel – oynohoe (wine jug) and horse bones were found in the anteroom. A sharp-bottomed amphora, clay rosette with dry gilding, a funeral crown, small parts of golden jewels and pieces of local Thracian ceramics were found in the dome premise.

The monument owes its global fame to the remarkable wall-paintings in the corridor and the dome premise – one of the best preserved products of the antique painting from the early Hellenistic age. The unknown painter had worked in four basic colors: black, red, yellow and white.

The wall decoration imitates in colors the front wall of a rich construction, coated in marble tiles and ending in architectural details. The warriors presented on the second frieze in the corridor represent a meeting between two enemy troops, and a fight scene is presented on the west wall. The scenes represent a historical event related to the life of the distinguished Thracian ruler buried in the tomb.

Figures of a man and a woman who are sitting by a small table covered in fruits are painted opposite to the entrance, in the dome premise in the center of the main frieze, and around them are presented their servants who are bringing gifts. A scene of a funeral feast with a procession is pictured. The distinguished married couple is crowned with laurel wreaths – a sign of heroisation which was widely popular during the Hellenistic age.

The wall decoration in the upper area of the dome ends with a second small frieze, which pictures three chariots pulled by two horses.

There is a shop for souvenirs and information materials by the duplicate tomb entrance.

The tomb is a part of the Valley of the Thracian Kings, which also includes the temples and the tombs found in the mounds Golyama Kosmatka, Golyama Arsenalka, Shushmanets, Helvetsia, Gryphons, Svetitsa (Female Saint) and Ostrusha.


Napoleon’s tomb (Paris, France)

The grandeur of the tomb of Napoléon Bonaparte at Les Invalides accords well with his imperial ambitions. The posthumous journey of his remains to their final resting place was a tortuous one, however, and his tomb was completed 40 years after his death. Napoleon died in exile on the island of St. Helena in 1821, six years after his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. He was buried on the island because the memories of his campaigns remained fresh for the British and for the new regime in France. Permission to return his remains to France was not granted until 1840, when his body was shipped back to Paris and given a state funeral. It was then placed in a temporary tomb until Louis Visconti designed his elaborate monument in the Dôme des Invalides. This was not the site that Napoleon had wanted, but Les Invalides had been built as a home for war veterans, and the church was certainly grand enough for an emperor.

Visconti’s dramatic concept was to build a crypt without a roof so that spectators could gaze down at the pillared chamber from ground level. Like a latter-day pharaoh, Napoleon’s body was placed in seven coffins, one fitting inside the next. The outermost sarcophagus is made of red porphyry, resting on a base of green granite. Encircling this, the names of his principal battles are inscribed within a laurel crown. Similarly, the 12 statues set against the columns symbolize his major campaigns. Several members of Napoleon’s family, including his son, are also in this chamber, together with some of France’s most distinguished military leaders. (Iain Zaczek)


My husband and I have visited the Sveshtari Tomb the last year and we were delighted by its beauty. There is a regime of controlled access to the tomb, which means that the visit can be done only with a guide from the office of the Sborianovo Archaelogocal reserve. The guided tour also provide visit to another Thracian tomb (the total of the tombs is more than 100) and the guide explains all the details of the style, the epoch and the importance of the tomb.

The Tomb of Shvestari is Bulgaria’s second UNESCO-inscribed Thracian tomb (see also my review of Kazanlak). It is claimed to be “the finest Thracian tomb in Bulgaria” but, surprisingly, wasn’t excavated and discovered until 1982. When we were there in 2000 we could not get in. As you can see from the photo, that is a distinct negative, as the mound itself sitting in a field is not that interesting! I understand from some web sites however that, as of 2006, it might be possible – albeit with prior arrangements, to get inside. I quote “The whole is encased in a protective shell and is open to visitors, though at present, at irregular times - it's vital that you ring or call in at the museum in Isperih or at Aristour in Shumen to check that it's open before making a special trip”.

Perhaps that part of Bulgaria has become more “tourist savvy” in the intervening years. We had great difficulty even getting locals to understand what it was we wanted to see! The nearest village is over 2kms away and the site wasn’t signposted along any of the several possible routes. Our few words of Russian for “Please - where is?” (We had no Bulgarian and English, French or Spanish didn’t help) whilst pointing at a print out of the UNESCO page for the site which contained a picture of the interior didn’t seem to lead anyone to link the presence of some “lost” tourists to this site and guess what it was we might be enquiring about! Or perhaps they just enjoyed having a laugh at tourists’ expense!


Watch the video: Ο Ν. ΣΦΑΚΙΑΝΑΚΗΣ ΕΞΗΓΕΙ ΓΙΑΤΙ ΔΕΝ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΧΡΙΣΤΙΑΝΟΣ


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