“Sboryanovo” – touches to the eternity.
If you wish to understand Bulgaria but you have no time to travel all over it, a trip to “Sboryanovo” will let you touch a rich past gathered in a small piece of land. Sboryanovo National Reserve is situated 5 km away from Isperih, 80 km away from Ruse and 120 km away from Varna.
Sboryanovo is an example for piled up for thousands of years the cultures and religions of Thracians, Romans and Proto-Bulgarians, of Orphics and Tangrists, of Christians and Moslems. Even today, rituals originated millenniums ago, are held.
The large-scaled archeological excavations in the past 25 years allow us today to state that this was the spiritual and political capital of the Getaes – the most popular Thracian tribe known for its justice and the doctrine of the soul eternity, from the 1st millennium BC, says senior associate Diana Gergova from the Archeological Institute with a museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. It might be also said that this is the long searched for Dausdava (translated as the „City of wolves” or „City of light”) on the Ninth map of the great geographer from the 1st century Claudius Ptolemaeus.
The pearl of the Getaes capital is the unique architectural ensemble of the three Sveshtari tombs dated to the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC. The first of them discovered in 1982 is included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The tomb is unique not only for Thrace but for the entire Mediterranean lands for its plan and the combination of architecture, sculpture and painting. The tomb chamber is the interior of a temple, a place to make immortal and deify the Thracian ruler, where are the couches of the king and his wife. The wall represents a scene of the ruler’s deifying. The ten sculptured different-faced caryatids are the symbols of the Great Queen. The tomb is built in a way that its axis has a precise orientation towards the winter solstice when the penetrating sunbeams lighted up exactly the deification scene. The Getaes used to make the secret “deification rituals” relating the life cycle with the cosmic one.
The two smaller tombs are unique for their sliding doors opening opposite to one another. This ensemble is the brightest proof of the big sacral meaning of the Getaes center. It has similarities with remote but sacral places in Asia Minor, Macedonia and South Italy, with Alexandria and even Jerusalem. All of them knew the teachings of the Orphism about the eternity of the soul and its resurrection, a direct predecessor of the Early Christianity and its architecture.
If you are ready to be lead not only by the guides in the tombs but by your own explorer’s spirit as well, you have the only chance here to walk though all of the basic components of the Getaes capital.
Take your way to the „Step of Demir baba” – the high plateau at the eastern riverbank opening the view of the valley leading to the Danube River, the ancient Thracian altars, the quite well fortified Getaes town – Helis, and the highest mounds.
The Thracians’ sanctuaries, the places where the mortals contacted the gods, are in a distinct contrast to the majesty of the tombs. They are distinguished for their simplicity and obvious strive to keeping the nature. Northwards to the “Step” you will enter the territory of Thracians’ oldest sanctuary in the “Kamen rid” district formed yet in the end of the 1st millennium BC. Surrounded by comparatively low walls, with separate ritual sections – a rock site with coated altars of clay, dug into the rock sacrificial pits, a stone circle with a sacred tree in the center.
Go along the alley and go down the stairs to the other Thracian sanctuary, in the valley near the “Five Fingers” spring. This spring is the first one south to the Danube and that is why the Thracians formed their religious and political capital here. Here, the tradition of the holy place is as mighty as can be. The Thracian stair-like altar and the stone block, inbuilt in the chapel, as well as the offering altar near the gate of the yard, have kept their ritual importance even now.
The consecrated plates of the Thracian rider show that even in the Roman ages a sanctuary existed here, and the megalithic blocks from buildings – that the Proto-Bulgarians have also respected this site. Nowadays, a missing stone cross above the chapel, as well as a memory for the St. Georgi monastery, are a proof for the presence of the Christianity too.
The region of Sboryanovo is still hunted by a hypothesis. An inbuilt column in the St. 40 Martyrs church in Veliko Tarnovo bears the wise inscription of the great Bulgarian khan Omurtag. “A man, even living well, dies and another man is born”. Thinking of this he raised a glorious mound between Pliska and Danube that is still not identified. The question if the Big Sveshtari mound, known as the Omurtag one, was the glorious mound of the khan will be answered after completing the excavations in the next season, d-r Gergova says. But it is for sure that during his reign the Proto-Bulgarians, pagans yet, have piled up mounds among the millenniums older Thracian ones. They had similar beliefs to those of the Thracinas – they has one and the same имали – the wolf, they honored and knew the stars.
The cult monuments in Sboryanovo show that is religions crossroad, where they developed, touched, completed one another and their natured remained devoted to the idea of the divine in the man.