The town of Varna is the district centre with a population of 312 000 inhabitants lying at a distance of 446 km northeast of Sofia. It is situated amphitheatrically in the vast Varna Bay on the Black Sea Coast. Varna is the biggest town along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The town has also got an international airport and a big port.
The earliest significant traces of life date from the Halcolith. Since that period is the Varna necropolis dating back to V c. B.C. It consists of 280 Eneolith tombs in 50 of which symbolic funerals were performed. There were discovered clay masks with golden applications, more than 400 ceramic vessels, 160 copper tools and ornaments and 3010 gold objects weighing 6,5 kg.
According to the memoirs of the Greek geographer Strabon in 560 B.C. the Miletian Greeks established a colony under the name of Odessos. In translation it means "a place by the water". It was one of the most remarkable colonies along the Black Sea Coast. Due to its favourable location the town quickly developed into a trade centre and in political respect it was a typical polis town. In 511 B.C. the fleet of the Persian king Darius passed by Odessos. In 341 B.C. Philip II -The Macedonian conquered the immense Odrysian State as well as the whole coast. After the death of Alexander-The Macedonian in 323 B.C. and that of his substitute Lizimah in 281 B.C. Odessos became autonomous again.
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In 29 B.C. the governor of Macedonia Mark Licinius Kras conquered a great part of Mizia and a year later Odessos also fell under the Roman domination. The Roman governors gave Odessos two privileges - independence and freedom in trade. During the period from II and III c. the town was modernized and the town's walls were fortified. Many temples, water pipes and sewage system and a theatre were built. The Roman Thermal baths are the biggest ancient building in Bulgaria from the end of II c. and are among the numerous landmarks of Varna.
After the division of the Roman Empire the town fell in the limits of the Eastern Roman Empire. The town preserved its significance and in 536 Emperor Justinian fortified the town and made it an administrative centre.
The riches of the region attract thousands of Slavs, Avars which ravaged Odessos and the surrounding fortresses in 626 after an unsuccessful siege of Constantinople. The town was turned to an ash-heap. After the devastation the Slavs discovered the treasures of the region and settled in its vicinities. They began to name rivers, settlements and locations with Slavic names. One of the guesses is that the present-day name of the town is also Slavic.
In VIII c. the town entered the limits of the Bulgarian State. In XIII and XIV the town was a fortress and a trade port. In XIV c. Varna was a possession of the boyar Balik and after that of his heir the Despot Dobrotitza. In 1389 Varna fell under the Ottoman yoke. In 1444 in the vicinities of the town was killed the Hungarian king Vladislav III Yagelo and his troops were defeated by the Turkish army. King Vladislav III Yagelo was the leader of the crusade against the Turkish army. After his death he remained in the history with the name of Vladislav Varnenchik.
During the Revival Period the town became an important cultural centre. After the Liberation Varna remained one of the main cultural centres of Bulgaria.
In the region of Varna are located the following holiday resort towns - Zlatni Pyasatzi/ Golden Sands/, Riviera, Saint Konstantin, Slanchev Den /Sunny Day/, Kamchiya, Evksinograd. Saint Konstantin lies at a distance of 9 km north of Varna. Varna has been a host of an international annual ballet contest since 1964.
The tourist sights of the town are: the churches "St. Atanas" (XIII c.), "St. Nikola" (1886), the cathedral "Sveta Bogoroditza" /Holy Virgin/ (1883-1886), the building of the Drama Theatre, the dolphinarium, the archaeology museum, the art gallery, the ethnographic museum etc.
On the territory of the district are located the following natural landmarks: the "Golden sands" natural park, the reserves "Kamchiya", " Varbov Dol", "Kirov Dol", "Kalfata", the rocky phenomena - "Pobitite kamani"(Varna), "Chudnite skali"/The Miraculous rocks/( the Luda Kamchiya River), "Svinskata glava"/The Pig's Head/ (The Luda Kamchiya River) and "Kostenurkata"/ The Turtle/ (The Luda Reka River).
Within the limits of the administrative region are located the following cultural-historic monuments: Aladzha Monastery and Marcianopolis.
The most popular wineries of the region are: Varna, Byala and Evksinograd.
Golden Sands lies at a distance of 17 km northeast of Varna. The resort has a wide beach line of 3,5 km fine sand and warm mineral springs.
Saint Konstantin is a resort village at a distance of 10 km northeast of the district centre. The building of the complex started in 1948. The resort has a fine sandy beach line, shallow shore sea-bottom and mineral springs.
The Aladzha Monastery in Varna is situated in a group of natural caves in the soft limestone rocks. The monastery was established in XII c. These rocky monasteries are typical for the territory of the Near East and the Balkans. Some people think that the rocky monasteries are related to the doctrine of the divine energy- the isihasm which was widely spread in Byzantine and Bulgaria. The monastery temple, the chapel, the tomb, the kitchen and the dining room are situated in two levels in a 40-meter-high rock. In the same rocky wreath there is another complex called the Catacombs which is proven to have existed since IV c. and is related to the early Christianity. The monastery is situated in a forest location at a distance of 14 km from Varna.
The Roman thermal baths are impressive remains from II-III c. They were built of mixed masonry. The sewage system is symmetrically built and consists of canals in the thick foundations. The Roman thermal baths have occupied an area of 7,5 thousand square meters.
The "St. Atanas" church in Varna is interesting with its icons, the wood carved altar and the bishop's throne. There is a collection of prints, lithographs and liturgical books.
The "Sveta Bogoroditza"/Holy Virgin/ church in Varna (1883-1886) was built to commemorate the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke. The project for the church was designed by the Russian architect and the wood-carvings were done by masters from the Debar art school.
The building of the Drama Theatre in Varna was built after a Vienna pattern. It houses the theatre, the opera and the philharmonic orchestra. The construction of the building began in 1856.
The archaeology museum in Varna has exhibitions representing the prehistoric, ancient and medieval times as well as precious icons. Here are kept the objects from the Varna Halcolithic necropolis from V-IV c. B.C.
The Dzhanavar Hill in Varna is famous for the remains of an Early-Christian basilica. The design of the church is similar to the one of "Saint Sofia" church in the capital. The basilica was decorated with marble tiles on the walls and a mosaics floor. Under the temple were discovered remains of two burials in a brick tomb with a valuable relics holder decorated with precious stones. According to specialists the church was demolished by the Avars in VI c.
The Petrich Kale /The stone fortress Petricha/ in the village of Avren, Varna District, is an ancient and medieval fortress. The fortress dates back to V c. Only the fortified walls and a 5-6 meters-high tower are preserved by the fortress.
The Evksinograd palace in Varna is located on the sea shore. Evksinograd is a governmental residence. It was designed by Rupelmayer in 1886 and was built to the likeness of the French Renaissance Castles from XVIII c. The palace has a big park with fountains and exotic plants, a port and a winery.
Kamchiya is a seaside resort at the mouth of the Kamchiya River. The region has beautiful nature and a vast fine sand beach line.
The town of Devnya has a population of 8 200 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 28 km from Varna. The town is located in a valley at the foot of the Dobrudzha plateau at an altitude of 28-118 m. Devnya is the centre of a municipality of 2 component settlements.
The town of Devnya is the successor of the Roman town Marcianopolis. Marcianopolis was founded by Emperor Trayan. Marcianopolis was built on the site of a Thracian settlement by the Devnya karst springs in 106. The town was an arena of important historic events and an important strategic centre. Marcianopolis was demolished three times - by the Goths (351), the Huns (447) and the Avars (586). At the beginning of the VII c. the town was deserted. During archaeological excavations in the area were discovered fortified walls, necropolises, public and housing buildings decorated with mosaics.
In the region of Devnya are located the biggest karst springs in Bulgaria united in several groups. They have a permanent capacity of 3 000 liters per second and a temperature range of 17-20oC.
The tourist sights of the town are: the mosaics museum, the remains of the ancient town of Marcianopolis and the natural landmarks of the region.
The Mosaics Museum in Devnya is the only one in Bulgaria. It represents Roman and Early-Byzantine mosaics from Marcianopolis. Here are exhibited the best examples of the Roman mosaic art. The museum was built over the foundations of an ancient building built at the end of the III and the beginning of the IV century. The mosaics were made of cubes of marble, limestone, baked clay, coloured glass in sixteen colours. The most precious examples in the collection are the Gorgon-Medusa, Satyr, Antiopa, Seasons and others.
The remains of the ancient town of Marcianopolis can be seen in the vicinities of Varna. Today are preserved only the fortified walls, a villa, the towers and the town's forum.
The town of Provadiya has a population of 14 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 47 km west of Varna. The town is located in a valley along the banks of the Provadiyska River. The town is the centre of a municipality of 24 component settlements.
Provadiya is a settlement with a centuries-old history. The oldest traces of human activity on the territory of the town date back to V c. B.C. The town was founded as a Byzantine fortress against the invasions of the northern tribes. The Byzantines called the town Provat or Provaton. At the end of XI c. the Bulgarians imposed the name of Ovech. During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom the town was a military fortress, an administrative, economic and spiritual centre. In 1388 after a long siege the fortress fell in the hand of the Turks and got the name of Provadiya. By the middle of XVI c. the fortress was in a decline and the settlement was moved to its present-day place. After the Liberation from the Ottoman yoke the town had a population of 3 500 inhabitants. Seven kilometers southeast of the town are located the Provadiya Baths with salty mineral water of 14oC and sulphur mineral water of 21oC used for spa treatments.
The medieval fortress Ovech and the fortified rampart from the time of khan Asparuh (VII c.) are located in the vicinities of Provadiya. Ovech is the Slavic name of the fortified town which existed until 1581. In IX c. the settlement was a bishop's settlement and later on a bishopric.
The Revival Period ensemble in Provadiya represents the Revival Period atmosphere of the region.
The town of Byala has a population of 2 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 56 km south of the district centre. Byala is located on the Black Sea Coast and is a national seaside resort. It is the centre of a municipality with 5 component settlements. On the territory of the town were discovered traces of an Ancient fortress and an Early-Bulgarian defense rampart. There is an evidence for the existence of Byala in Italian maps from XIV and XVI c. The town is also mentioned in the Ottoman documents from XVIII c.
The town of Aksakovo has a population of 7 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 12 km from Varna. Aksakovo is the municipal administrative centre of 22 component settlements. Until 1934 the town was known under the name of Azhemler. In close proximity to the town are located the famous "Pobiti Kamani" phenomenon. In the region of the municipality there are remains from a Halcolith, a Thracian and a Middle Age settlement and the Maglish fortress from XII-XV c.
The village of Vetrino is the centre of a municipality in the Varna District with 9 component settlements. It lies at a distance of 45 km northwest of Varna. The settlement was known under the name of Yasatepe until 1934. In the region of Vetrino were discovered the remains of an Ancient settlement. The settlement was described in the Ottoman tax registry books in 1573.
The village of Avren has a population of about 800 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 32 km southwest of Varna. Avren is the centre of a municipality with 16 component settlements. The settlement was known under the name of Momino until 1965. On the territory of Avren were discovered the remains of a Thracian tomb and a sanctuary of a Thracian horseman, a cave monastery and some fortresses.
The town of Beloslav has a population of 8 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 19 km west of Varna. Beloslav is a centre of a municipality with 3 component settlements. The town is located by the sea canal connecting Devnya to Varna. The first evidence for the town was in the Ottoman documents from XVI c. Near the town is located the Yatata reserve.
The town of Dolni Chiflik has a population of 7 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 40 km southwest of Varna. Dolni Chiflik is the centre of a municipality with 16 component settlements. In the region of the town there are Thracian tomb mounds and traces of Roman settlements and Byzantine fortresses. The municipality is specialized in the production of fruits and vegetables.
The town of Dalgopol is located along the Kamchiya River. It has a population of 5 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 65 km southwest of Varna. Dalgopol is a municipal administrative centre of 15 component settlements. Until 1934 the settlement was known under the name of Novo selo. The region around Dalgopol is specialized in the production of vines, fruits and vegetables. On the territory of the town there are traces of a prehistoric settlement, fortresses and a necropolis from Roman, Byzantine and ancient Bulgarian period. There is evidence for the existence of the settlement in the Ottoman documents from XV and XVII c.
The town of Suvorovo has a population of 5 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 35 km northwest of Varna. Suvorovo is the centre of a municipality with 8 component settlements. The settlement is named after the Russian earl and army leader Suvorov who defeated the Ottoman army in a battle by the settlement in 1774. In the vicinities of the town were discovered a Bronze Age settlement, traces of a Thracian sanctuary, remains of an ancient fortress which was also used in the Middle Ages. The municipality is specialized in the production of grains, fodder, vines and fruits.
The town of Valchi dol has a population of 4 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 50 km northwest of Varna. Valchi dol is the administrative municipal centre of 21 settlements.
The town was known under the name of Kurtdere until 1934. In the region of the municipality were discovered traces of a Thracian and Slavic settlements. The region is specialized in the production of agricultural products.