Just over an hour’s drive from Wild Thyme is the archaeological site of Madara. It is the unique carving of the horse and rider that has earned world heritage status for this site, but there are many other archaeological treasures here.
The Madara horseman is a stone carving high up on the cliff face and is surrounded by Greek inscriptions commemorating the victories of three Bulgarian Tsars from the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The ruins of their capitals at Pliska and Veliki Preslav are just down the road but here at Madara was their cult centre.
There are temples and other ritual sites which date from the old Bulgarian period just before the conversion to Christianity. It was already a special place before this time and the eerie rock face and caves were used by the Thracians for temples. The museum exhibits some of the Thracian finds which includes a marble slab carved with the signs of the zodiac.
Later on, the cliff face was peppered with caves used by Christian hermits and the plateau above the cliff was the site of a medieval fortress. Occupied over so many centuries, it is easy to see why Madara has earned the title ‘the Bulgarian Troy’.
You can drive yourself to the site or join a Wild Thyme guided archaeological tour.