The Madara national historical-archeological reserve

The national historical-archeological reserve “Madara” is located 17 km northeast of Shumen, 2 km from the village of Madara and 75 km from Varna. Towering cliffs, beautiful natural surroundings, and plentiful water drew people here from the dawn of history. First settled during the Neolithic Age (the late Stone Age), it has been occupied ever since. Over the centuries, rock sanctuaries were founded here, as were palaces and other habitations, fortresses, temples, hermits’ retreats and monastic complexes, places for solitude and for communal celebrations. Visitors can observe evidence of the material and spiritual cultural development of many ethnic groups – the earliest inhabitants, Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgars, Turks, and others. Today dozens of monuments and artifacts from all epochs can be seen. The most notable monument at the Madara reserve is the unique stone relief known as the Madara Horseman. Carved on a massive cliff some 23 meters high, it is representative of early Medieval Bulgarian artistry. The relief depicts a horseman in a natural pose with a sword in his hand. At the feet of the horse is a lion, and behind the rider is depicted his hunting dog. The stone relief is the only one of its kind in Europe. In 1979, it was included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and in 2008 it was chosen as the national symbol of Bulgaria. In the 14th century one of the largest cliff monasteries in Bulgaria was founded at Madara. More than 150 natural caves on the rock face were used as churches, chapels, monastic retreats, and gravesites. One of the largest caves was used as a church, and it continues to function to this day as the cliffside chapel “Saint Panteleymon”. At the Madara reserve there is now an archeological museum that presents the history of the site during epochs of human habitation there. The museum opened in 1935. The exposition includes more than 350 original finds from the Madara region.

Where to stay near national reserve Madara

Additional Information

The site is open year-round, every day
Opening hours:
November 1 – March31
8.30 am – 5.00 pm
April 1 – October 31
8.30 am – 8.00 pm

Adults – BGN 4
Students and persons with disabilities – BGN 1
Guided tours in Bulgarian – BGN 5
Guided tours in English and German – BGN 10