Georgi Dzhagarov, one of the greatest Bulgarian poets, once wrote “A land like a human palm". With a total area of 110,000 square km, situated at the heart of the Balkan peninsula, Bulgaria has always been a natural crossroads between East and West. This land inherited the cultural and historical values of many and varied ancient cultures: the influences of Ancient Thrace, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Islamic tradition and the typically Bulgarian character are all deeply rooted in the thousands of years of the country’s history.
Cultural interaction on the territory of present-day Bulgaria already began in the New Stone Age, when the indigenous civilization encountered bearers of Neolithic culture from Asia Minor. The Varna necropolis burial site, with its golden objects dating back to 4600 – 4200 BC and weighing about 6,5 kg, is the most famous example of the exquisite copper (chalcolithic) civilization. It is also the first documented early state structure ruled by clearly manifested regal and sacerdotal authority.
The Thracians are considered to be the oldest tribe to have ever inhabited the territory of present-day Bulgaria. According to Herodotus, they were the second most numerous people in the Ancient World. Their civilization and culture take their rightful place among the great ancient civilizations which determined the character of antiquity. The efforts of Bulgarian historians and archaeologists culminated in the discovery and conservation of remarkable gold and silver treasures and in the excavation of whole towns, settlements, fortresses and tombs which reveal the peaks of Thracian material and spiritual culture, its past glory and the turbulent about-turns in its history.
Bulgaria is the cradle of Slavonic literature and culture and of the great deed of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, proclaimed by the Vatican as "Patrons of Europe“. Their disciples worked for the establishment of the first mediaeval Bulgarian schools and the Preslav and Ohrid literary schools, which carried out a huge range of educational activities.
Bogomilism, a mass social movement, a reaction against the feudal state, struggling for social and spiritual reform in society, emerged in Bulgaria and spread to many other European countries.
Bulgaria is also the country of the first peasant anti-feudal uprising in Europe, one of the few peasant uprisings in the world to end in victory. Its leader was entrusted with the supreme power of the state.
Branded by five centuries of Ottoman rule, two Balkan wars and more that 40 years of development under Russian influence as a result of the Yalta Conference in 1945, in the period after 1990 Bulgaria has turned to democracy.
A successor to the cultural and historical heritage of seven great civilizations, Bulgaria ranks third in Europe after Greece and Italy in the number and variety of cultural monuments discovered. The state bears the main responsibility for their protection.
The number of immovable cultural monuments registered in Bulgaria amounts to more than 40,000 and more than 5 billion movable cultural valuables are kept in national and municipal museums. Seven cultural monuments and two natural sites have been proclaimed as unique sites of world importance and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Bulgarian human treasures, the Bistritsa Babi and Nestinarstvo are also inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.