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Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

By Daniela

What is the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak?

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is one of the masterpieces of the Thracian civilization in Bulgaria. It is a burial site dating to the 4th century BC that consists of a corridor, an antechamber and a round burial chamber with unique frescoes. The frescoes of the dome in the round chamber consist of two friezes. The outer frieze represents a funeral feast with a married couple and a procession of people carrying gifts, female musicians, a horseman with horses and a chariot. The inner frieze depicts a chariot race.

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Text: Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, Bulgaria. Images: two views of the frescos inside the tomb.
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The tomb was discovered in 1944 and in 1979 it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, as one of the first UNESCO sites in Bulgaria.

Why is the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak a UNESCO World Heritage site?

This monument has been inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites because of its uniqueness. According to UNESCO, “this monument is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world. The exceptionally well-preserved frescos and the original condition of the structure reveal the remarkable evolution and high level of culture and pictorial art in Hellenistic Thrace.”

The outside of the Thracian tomb is a simple, single-story stone building with a red roof.

What can you expect on a visit to the tomb?

What you will be visiting is actually a replica of the real tomb, which is located just a short walk from the real site. The 1:1 exact replica of the tomb was built in 1984, so that the original will be preserved and the frescoes won’t deteriorate.

Standing there in the small chamber (2,65 m in diameter and 3,25 m in height) (8.7 ft wide and 10.66 ft high), looking up at the domed ceiling, you will be smitten by the beautiful frescoes, their vivid colors, the techniques used and the story they are telling.

This fresco from the Thracian tomb is the center of the ceiling so it is circular. Around a central green circle race three horse-drawn chariots, each with two horses and one person standing in the chariot holding the reins.

Is the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak worth visiting?

A visit to the tomb doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes, but nonetheless it is absolutely worth the visit. You won’t be able to see anything like this anywhere else in the world.

What sorts of travelers would like this tomb?

If you are a history geek or if you are interested in arts and culture, this site should be on your bucket list. If you aren’t into this type of sites, but you happen to be in the area, I strongly advise that you stop by and visit it.

The fresco from the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is clearly in good condition with colors still intact. It depicts a horseman leading 4 horses.

Tips for visiting the Thracian Tomb

You can combine a visit to the Thracian Tomb with a visit to the local historical museum and the Rose Museum, all located in the town itself. If you are making a road trip in the area, you might also be interested in visiting some other sites in the so-called Valley of the Thracian Kings, like the Ostrusha Tomb, the Shushmanets Tomb, and Golyama Kosmatka.

If you’re staying in Sofia, you can take a day trip to the Thracian sites.

The Thracian tomb can easily be included on any itinerary along the most famous sites in Bulgaria, as Kazanlak is located right in the middle of the country. There are also organized tours from Sofia to Kazanlak. It can be the perfect day trip from the nearby historical cities Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv.

Where is the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak?

Address: Park Tyulbe, Kazanlak, Bulgaria, GPS: 42.62597 x 25.39919

The Thracian Tomb is located in the town of Kazanlak (Казанлък in Bulgarian, also sometimes spelled as Kazanluk) and is just a short walk from the city centre (15 minutes).

Book Kazanlak accommodations here.

Kazanlak can be visited on a day trip from Sofia (200 km/3 hrs), Veliko Tarnovo (100 km/1 hr), or Plovdiv (100 km/1 hr 30 min). There’s a train station and a bus station in the city with good connections to the larger cities.

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For more information about the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, its opening hours and admission fees, see its official website.

Text and photos provided by Daniela of Ipanema Travels.

Have you been to the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

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