European Machu Picchu

What if I told you that there is a place in Europe at least as exciting as Machu Picchu… but almost 7000 years older?! And that less than just a hundred years ago, people had actually no clue about it. There was merely a hill covered by a forest with a lot of bizarre rocks. The archeologists first came here in the 20th century. They were looking for a medieval fortress. Well, they discovered something much more impressive, namely the ruins of a big city of one of the greatest and most mysterious civilisations that ever existed on the Earth: the Thracians.

To tell you the whole story, the place did not belong to the Thracians only. At different periods, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans conquered it. And the so-called “early Europeans,” who inhabited the territory thousands of years ago, used the Perperikon hill as their ritual place long before the Thracians.

We still know almost nothing about the site. And often, new findings raise more questions than answers. We know for sure that everybody who owned the place wanted to hide something extremely precious inside to protect it at any cost. In that respect, Perperikon used to have one of the most impressive defence systems I have ever seen in my life. 

Sunrise at The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, Kardzhali Region, Bulgaria
Sunrise at The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, Kardzhali Region, Bulgaria

The place of supernatural energy

Another certain thing about this highly mysterious place is its extraordinary energy. I heard from locals that when they need to “recharge their batteries,” they come to Perperikon to spend a night under the stars. Was it the reason for ancient people to choose that hill for their sacred rituals? And for the Thracians to put their “soul” – i.e., the rigorously protected altar – there? Or how else did they use Perperikon? Well, we know that the Thracians performed fire rituals there while animal sacrifices were a regular practice as well, and human sacrifices were not so uncommon either. But wait a minute! The Thracians considered death and life in a completely opposite way compared to us now: they used to weep bitterly for childbirths knowing how much suffering a baby would have in his lifetime and to organise joyful feasts for deaths to celebrate the passing to a better life. Thus, when the Thracians killed somebody ritually, that was supposed to be the worthiest person, as he would become a messenger to the gods. 

In addition, we thought that the Thracians were illiterate barbarians, but archeologists recently found evidence that they had a written language. All in all, it seems we know about the Thracians maybe even less than we do about Perperikon.

And the best is yet to come

Nowadays, only 10% of Perperikon has been excavated, meaning that most of it is yet to be explored.  

For me, Perperikon was one of the places in Bulgaria I wanted to visit the most. And I was very lucky to have a guided tour with a person who actually participated in the excavations of this archeological site at the beginning of the 21st century. My experience turned out to be even better than I had expected. For me, being in Perperikon is akin to being centimetres away from unlocking one of the biggest mysteries of history!

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