Alexandrovo Thracian Tomb

The tomb in the vicinity of the Aleksandrovo village in the Haskovo Municipality dates back to the 4th century BC making one of the most prominent monuments of the ancient Thracian culture. The Alexandrovo Thracian tomb sits on the horizontal point of a low hill located on a plain near the Maritsa River, in south-eastern Bulgaria. The Alexandrovo tomb was discovered in 2000 by the famous archaeologist Georgi Kitov (1943 – 2008), who is author of over 200 articles and a dozen of studies on the history, archaeology and religion of the Thracians. The famous scientist Georgi Kitov died suddenly of a heart attack on September 14, 2008 during excavations in the locality of Starosel. At the Museum of the Thracian culture in the Eastern Rhodopes in the village of Alexandrovo, Haskovo district, a bas-relief of the famous archaeologist Georgi Kitov – member of the National Commission of Bulgaria for UNESCO is opened.

The tomb in Alexandrovo was designed to give refuge to an unknown Thracian ruler, whose name remains a mystery to us. The Alexandrovo tomb structure and paintings have been damaged in the past by treasure-hunters. A corridor has its beginning on its eastern periphery, passing alternately through a rectangular and a circular room. The impressive size of the Alexandrovo tomb ranks it among the most monumental ones on the Bulgarian lands. Prof. Kitov’s theory was, in which he firmly believed, that dead Thracian kings and aristocrats were deified and their tombs were turned into temples. Aristocratic burials contain rich assemblages and symbols which were meant to reinforce the social status of the elites within the communities.

The exceptionally well-preserved frescoes of Alexandrovo tomb depict a men on foot and on horseback, chasing and killing deer and wild boar, and enrich with new data our knowledge and notions of the Thracian religious rituals, cults, weapons, clothing and lifestyle. The Alexandrovo tomb’s unique murals painted on the walls and ceilings are unparalleled and have great artistic value. Painting of the Alexandrovo tomb is an invaluable source of information about the Thracian reality and everyday life. The fashion of richly decorated tombs appeared among powerful Thracians about the 5th Century BC and lasted until Christianity prevailed in the 4th Century AD. The images of the Alexandrovo tomb are of great interest to scholars of the Classical world not only for their artistic merit, depicting for the first time themes which up till now had only been known on golden vessel reliefs, but also because they reveal new information on styles of clothing, weaponry, social systems, and religious beliefs of the people who lived in Thrace shortly before the conquest of the territory by Alexander the Great and his father Phillip. Thrace was also well known for its silver and gold mines, including the Pangeion gold mines near the Strymon delta, captured by Philip II in 348 BC.

Tomb of Alexandrovo was found close the village of Aleksandrovo, 20 km away from Haskovo and was opened for visitors in 2000. The Alexandrovo tomb dates back from the 4th century B.C. and represents one of the most prominent monuments of the Thracian culture. The well-preserved mural paintings, where one can distinguish 23 human figures testify on the rich Thracian religious rituals, weaponry, lifestyle and clothes with latest discoveries and information for the great artistic skills of Thracian people. The pictures are painted in red, blue, yellow, and black, but the predominant color is that of brick red. The typical iconographic themes consist of male riders usually involved in hunting scenes of boars, bears or lions, male and female characters in ceremonial chariots, sacrifice scenes, winged female divinities in the mistress of animals pose, hierogamy scenes, fighting beasts, processions of real and fantastic beasts, ritual depictions of mythical heroes. Alexandrovo Thracian tomb is one of 100 most significant landmarks, sites and highlights of Bulgaria. In 2009 the Museum Center “Thracian Art Of Eastern Rhodopes” opened its doors in the immediate proximity to the Alexandrovo tomb.

The people of Japan had donated nearly $ 3 million for the construction of this Museum. The 98 gold decorations and jewels /4500 – 4000 BC/ discovered in the northern part of the Sakar Mountain are among the most impressive exhibits of the Museum. Together with the gold items from the Varna necropolis and the necklace discovered in the vicinity of the Hotitsa village, these gold works prove to be the most ancient processed gold ornaments in the world. There is current procedure going on for inclusion of the Aleksandrovo tomb into UNESCO list of world cultural heritage monuments. The international highway connecting Turkey with Europe passes the Alexandrovo tomb site at a distance of 2 km. The highest in the world statue of the Holy Virgin with the child in Haskovo was built  to convey the respect, love and gratitude of the people to the Mother of God. This monument was inaugurated by a traditional water-sanctifying ritual by Archbishop Arseny in 2003. In 2005 it was included into the book of Guinness World Records, and since 2009 it also entered the List of the Hundred most popular tourist sites in Bulgaria. The overall height of the monument is 328 meters, its weight is 80 tons and its attractiveness is supplemented by the Nativity of the Holy Virgin chapel, built inside the base of the statue.