Pliska and V. Preslav – The First Kingdom
For two centuries, from the establishment of the Bulgarian state in 681 and up to 893, Pliska was the main political, military, cultural and economics center. In addition to this, it is among the most imposing monuments of medieval Europe’s urban development. Situated in the middle of a wide hilly area, the first Bulgarian capital was protected by strongly fortified walls. Khan Krum’s palace is among the most remarkable monuments here. The tourists might find the secret entrances interesting; they enabled the inhabitants to leave the city without being seen. The palace had a large water reservoir and baths that were advanced for their time. The large-scale construction activities carried out during the second phase of Pliska’s development are related with the name of the Bulgarian Khan Omurtag.
The monuments from his reign include the so-called „Little Palace” with residences for members of the Khan’s family, the new baths with sophisticated heating installations, two pagan temples and the exceptionally decorated Throne Room. Pliska is the historical city that witnessed the
conversion of the Bulgarians to Christianity. The city has preserved early Christian religious buildings of imposing size, the most striking being the Big Basilica. With its 2920 sq m, it was the biggest Christian church on the Balkan Peninsula. The huge three-aisled church, 100 m long and 30 m wide, was surrounded by a large monastery with a complex architecture.
Veliki Preslav is the second Bulgarian capital (893-971) that is worth visiting. King Simeon I moved the capital from Pliska to Veliki Preslav and transformed the latter into one of the most majestic cities in South-Eastern Europe (the „Golden Age” of Bulgarian history). The inner city includes the king’s residence structure with its monumental stone palaces, such as the Big Palace and the Throne Room with its columns, as well as the Round Church (10th century), richly decorated with mosaics, marble and ceramic icons. The archaeological findings include the impressive ceramic icon of St. Theodore Stratelates, the Preslav Golden Treasure, the ceramic iconostasis from the Palace Monastery and a unique collection of lead seals.