Home
Home How to order a tour? About Us Travel Request Contact
TOURS IN BULGARIA
 
BULGARIA INFO
 
PLACES TO VISIT
 
BULGARIAN HISTORY
Search

History

The Thracians were an ancient people who inhabited what is now Bulgaria. They were divided in numerous tribes until king Teres united most of them in a single state around 500 BC. This kingdom was called the Odrysian state and reached its peak under the kings Sitalkes and Cotys I (383-359 BC). In 341 BC it was destroyed by the Macedonian state but rose from its ashes at the end of the 4th century BC under Seuthes III. In 188 BC the Romans invaded Thrace and the wars with them continued to AD 45, when it became a Roman Province.

The Thracians did not have writing and now their legacy survives mainly in the numerous treasures and tombs they left. It is believed that the oldest golden treasure - the one of Varna, which is 6,500 years old, is Thracian-made. One of the most talented ancient commanders, Spartacus, was a Thracian born in the Rhodope Mountains.

In the late 7th century a branch of the Bulgars led by Khan Asparuh migrated into the northern Balkans, where they merged with the local Slavic and Thracian population to form the First Bulgarian Empire in AD 681. In 717 the Bulgarians helped relieve the Arab siege of Constantinople, killing some 40,000-60,000 soldiers. Their khan Tervel was called by his contemporaries The Saviour of Europe. In 864 Bulgaria accepted the Orthodox Faith and became a major European power in the 9th and the 10th century, while fighting with the Byzantine Empire for the control of the Balkans. The greatest territorial extension was reached under Simeon I, the first Tsar, covering much of the Balkans and modern-day Romania. Following a decline in the middle of the 10th century the Bulgarian state was crushed by an assault by the Rus' in 969. The Byzantines then began campaigns to conquer Bulgaria. In 971 they seized the capital Preslav and captured emperor Boris II. The resistance continued in the western Bulgarian lands for nearly half a century until the state was completely destroyed by the Byzantines led by Basil II in 1018.

1185 the Bulgarian Empire was reestabilished under the Asenevtsi Dynasty and continued to be an important power in Europe for two more centuries, while fighting for dominance in the region with the Byzantine Empire, the Crusader states and Hungary, reaching its zenith under Ivan Asen II (1218-1241). By the end of the 14th century the country had disintegrated into several feudal principalities and was eventually conquered by the Ottoman Empire. A Polish-Hungarian crusade under the rule of Władysław III of Poland to free the Balkans was crushed in 1444 in the battle of Varna.

The 5-century period of Ottoman rule was characterized by great violence and oppression. The Bulgarian population was decimated and most of its cultural relics were lost. Large towns and the areas where Ottoman power was strong were severely depopulated until the 19th century.

Following the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78 and the Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878, an autonomous Bulgarian principality was proclaimed. The treaty was immediately rejected by the Great Powers for fear that a large Slavic country on the Balkans would serve Russian interests. This led to the Treaty of Berlin (1878) which provided for an autonomous Bulgarian principality comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia. The first Bulgarian prince was Alexander Battenberg. Most of Thrace was included in the autonomous region of Eastern Rumelia, whereas the rest of Thrace along with the whole of Macedonia was returned under the sovereignty of the Ottomans. After uniting with Eastern Rumelia in 1885 (following the Serbo-Bulgarian War), the principality was proclaimed a fully independent kingdom in 1908. This happened during the reign of Ferdinand I of Bulgaria.

He became the Bulgarian prince after Alexander Battenberg abdicated in 1886 following a coup d'etat staged by pro-Russian army officers. (Although the counter coup d'etat coordinated by Stefan Stambolov was successful, Alexander Battenberg could not remain Bulgarian prince without the approval of the Russian emperor Alexander III.) The struggle for liberation of the Bulgarians in the Adrianople Vilayet and Macedonia continued throughout the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century culminating with the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising organised by the IMARO in 1903.

In 1912 and 1913 Bulgaria became involved in the Balkan Wars, entering into conflict with Greece and Serbia against the Ottoman Empire and then against its former Balkan allies in desperate effort to achieve its national unity. After being defeated in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria lost most of the territory conquered in the first war, as well as Southern Dobruja. During World War I, Bulgaria found itself fighting on the losing side after its alliance with the Central Powers. The defeat led to new territorial losses (the Western Outlands to Serbia, Western Thrace to Greece and the re-conquered Southern Dobruja to Romania. The Balkan Wars and World War I led to the influx of over 250,000 Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia, Eastern and Western Thrace and Southern Dobruja.

These numbers increased in the 1930s following Serbian state-sponsored aggression against its native Bulgarian population. After regaining control over Southern Dobruja in 1940, Bulgaria allied with the Axis Powers in World War II, although no Bulgarian soldiers participated in the war against the USSR. During this time the country occupied parts of Greece and Yugoslavia inhabited mostly by Bulgarians. Bulgaria was the one of two countries (another one being Finland) that saved its entire Jewish population (around 50,000) from the Nazi camps by refusing to comply with a 31 August 1943 resolution. However, Jews in newly acquired territories from Greece and Yugoslavia were sent to death camps by the Bulgarian authorities on German request. In September the Soviet army entered into Bulgaria which later enabled the Bulgarian Communists to seize power and establish a Communist dictatorship. Bulgaria had to fight against Germany (initially with a 450 000 strong army in 1944, reduced to 130 000 in 1945). More than 30,000 Bulgarian soldiers and officers were killed in the war.

Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence after World War II, became a People's Republic in 1946 and one of the USSR's staunchest allies. In the late 1970s it began normalizing its relations with Greece and in the 1990s with Turkey. The People's Republic ended in 1989 as many Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, as well as the Soviet Union itself, began to collapse (the Bulgarian Communist leader Todor Zhivkov was removed from power on 10 November 1989). Bulgaria again held multiparty elections and privatized its economy, but economic difficulties and a tide of corruption led over 800,000 Bulgarians, most of them qualified professionals, to emigrate.

Bulgaria joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and is set to join the European Union on 1 January 2007 after signing the Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005.




Bulgaria, Sofia 1000
5B Triaditza Str
Mobile: 00359/889 13-74-78
Phone: 00359/2 980-10-68
Phone: 00359/2 986-79-03
Fax:00359/2 980-53-94
ICQ 295 120 078
office@planettours.bg
Newsletter
You want to receive our hot offers?