South Bulgaria's Black Sea heart

Burgas prides itself on its ancient history but the city has really risen to prominence over the past century

Downtown Burgas abounds in beautiful buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century.

Surrounded by three lakes and the Black Sea, Burgas has rightful ownership of the name “coastal capital of South Bulgaria”. Even though the area was first populated during the pre-historic times, solid evidence of the existence of a settlement situated in the heart of the modern city dates back only to the period of the Ottoman occupation. It is believed that the name of the city is derived from the Latin word for tower “burgus”, often used in its Greek version “pyrgos”. The latter is the name used by the Byzantine poet Manuel Philes (14th century) to refer to the city.

Surrounded by three lakes and the Black Sea, Burgas has rightful ownership of the name “coastal capital of South Bulgaria”. Even though the area was first populated during the pre-historic times, solid evidence of the existence of a settlement situated in the heart of the modern city dates back only to the period of the Ottoman occupation. It is believed that the name of the city is derived from the Latin word for tower “burgus”, often used in its Greek version “pyrgos”. The latter is the name used by the Byzantine poet Manuel Philes (14th century) to refer to the city.
The oldest settlements discovered in the region of Burgas date back to the Chalcolithic Age and the Bronze Age (2nd-1st millennium BC). Artefacts found speak to the local people's wide variety of occupations - from agriculture and livestock breeding to salt production. Relics of several Thracian settlements from the 6th-2nd century BC have been uncovered on the territory of modern Burgas and its surrounding area.
In the 1st century AD, the entire region fell under the rule of the Roman Empire and was transformed in the ensuing centuries by the Romans' construction of cities, fortresses and roads, traces of which remain to this day. In the aftermath of Rome's split in 395, the Burgas region remained part of the Eastern Roman Empire (later the Byzantine Empire). In 708, following the battle of Anchialus, the region became part of the newly-established Bulgarian state. Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire took turns controlling the Burgas region until the early 15th century, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
The earliest document referencing Burgas at its current location is an Ottoman registry of 1603-04. It mentions the Port of Pyrgos, part of Iskender Pasha's waqf. There are also mentions of the port in 1639 and 1646-47 as an Ottoman navy base. In the middle of the 17th century the city started expanding rapidly thanks to grain trade and export.
Following Bulgaria's liberation in 1878 the city remained part of the so-called Eastern Rumelia and included into the Principality of Bulgaria after the Unification of 1885. During the following decades, Burgas was only second to Sofia in pace of development. In 1891, the first urban plan was adopted, envisioning the construction of new public buildings in the style of the West, in order to change the city's oriental look.
The Burgas city library was built in 1881, while 1891 saw the launch of works on the Sea Garden park. The St. Cyril and St. Methodius Cathedral was consecrated in 1897. The Burgas-Plovdiv railroad was unveiled at a special ceremony in 1890. The local port was opened in 1903, further contributing to the city's development. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Burgas was filled with beautiful new buildings, many of which have been preserved to this day - the Imperial Hotel, Modern Theatre, the houses of Yovi Vodenicharov, Ivan Hadzhipetrov, Isaak Prezenti, the Kalimanov brothers, etc. Many of those were designed by Italian architect Ricardo Toscani, whose work transformed Burgas into a modern European city of the time.

Similar articles