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Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Historical themed trip in Thrace (Bulgaria).

Spartacus in Thrace.

We present you a very special historical and archaeological journey. A trip to the origins of spartacus and to his homeland, Thrace, currently territory of Bulgaria. We all know the story of Spartacus as a gladiator but on this journey we will discover his origins: What was life like for Spartacus before he was made a slave?, What was the Thracian civilization in which you grew up?, Where did your fighting capacity come from?… and so many other questions that we passionate about Classical Antiquity and Archeology ask ourselves…

We will visit archaeological sites in Bulgaria that are UNESCO World Heritage sites for their archaeological value. There will also be time for fun visiting historical places from the time when Thrace (Bulgaria) It was occupied by the Romans and seeing recreations of gladiatorial fights and battles between Romans and Thracians in these lands…

 

buscando a espartaco en tracia

 

Detailed program ” Searching for Spartacus in Thrace ” :

sofia in cyrillic

Day 1

Flight city of origin - Sofia. Group pick-up at Sofia airport by the guide, transfer by vehicle and accommodation at the hotel 4**** From Sofia.

Depending on the flight arrival time: free time to go for a walk or go straight to sleep.

 

Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel in Sofia and then transfer by road to the city of Sandanski, city ​​famous for its hot springs that are used in the city's spa hotels, but also for being the head of the region of origin of Spartacus.

According to the references of the historian Plutarco, Spartacus was Thracian. Roman historians Appian and Florus agree on their Thracian origin. Born the year 113 a. C., contemporary sources indicate it was from the Thracian tribe of the Medes (also called medi and maidoi) . Plutarch also writes that Spartacus' wife, prophetess of the Maedi tribe, was enslaved with him. The Maidoi lived along the southern Strymon River and the Nesto River (between Lake Kirkinis in Greece and the Bulgarian town of Sandanski).

 

Thracian tribes map (in red the current borders of Bulgaria)

Thracian tribes map (in red the current borders of Bulgaria and in green the region of origin of Spartacus).

In Sandanski we will have the first contact with the legend of Spartacus in Thrace , we can see for example a large statue erected in his honor in the city. In the heart of the city of Sandanski vestiges of a magnificent Roman amphitheater have been found, in which, probably, gladiator battles were held. To entertain the spectators, they also brought wild animals to the sand. We have fragments of the so-called gladiator poster that announced the fights - explains the director of the Sandanski archaeological museum, Vladimir Petkov, and adds: with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the Balkans, gladiatorial fights were already part of daily life in ancient cities in the Struma river valley.

 

"circus poster" romano

A “circus poster” romano, IV century d.C., as an announcement of the fights between gladiators and beasts. Found in Bulgaria and exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Sofia.

 

After short transfer (25 min. aprox.) to the small town of Sklave who is credited with being Spartacus' birth town… it is not proven, what is certain is that the town's name comes from the Latin word “sclavus”, slave, Because there was a slave market in which Spartacus himself and his wife were sold by the Romans. The slave market of “slave” lasted through the centuries transforming into a cattle market to this day… During the Summer solstice, gladiator games are held in Sklave, recreated by actors and historical associations in homage to Spartacus..

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Recreation of the Slave Market in the village of Sklave (Sandanski region-Bulgaria).

 

Then another short transfer takes us to the picturesque town of Melnik. (26 km, 35 min aprox) known throughout Bulgaria for its underground wine cellars and traditional architecture from the 19th century Bulgarian cultural revival. We did not visit Melnik, by causality, We do it in homage to the god of wine, Dionisio, whom Spartacus worshiped. In his honor we will taste the wine of the region at the Melnik Wine Museum. In the afternoon transfer (115 km, 2 h. aprox.) to Bansko town. Overnight at hotel 4**** de Bansko.

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Melnik

 

Day 3

After breakfast in Bansko transfer by road to the city of Plovdiv. Declared European City of Culture 2019. It is known as the city of 7 hills. It is the second city in the country by population after Sofia. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in the World (they only surpass it in seniority 3 Asian cities: Damascus, Jericho and Shush) and it is the oldest in Europe still inhabited. It was founded by the Thracian tribes (ancestors of present-day Bulgarians) according to estimates between 6.000 and 8.000 years. Not only is it the oldest city in Europe on paper, Rather, traces remain throughout the city as proof of its long history: Roman buildings and remains, ottomans, etc,... like an amphitheater, Roman forum and stadium that can be visited, some Turkish baths and a mosque from the Ottoman period, still in use, etc…

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

View from one of the 7 Plovdiv hills, hill where there are ancient archaeological remains as well as a water reservoir from Roman times.

In our search for the Legend of Spartacus we will visit the Roman amphitheater in Plovdiv, one of the best preserved in the world and also the Roman stadium of which only one end is visible, the rest is underground and has not been excavated because it is under the main pedestrian street. You can see some marks that mark the end of the stadium on the pavement of that street, but 200 meters below. It was built on the model of the Delphi stadium: in the world are preserved only 12 of this type. In ancient times, in the stadium they could fit around 30.000 spectators, which gives an idea of ​​the importance of the city of Plovdiv during the time of Roman occupation. The stadium was used for the famous chariot races, gladiator fights and other roman games…

Overnight at hotel 3*** of Plovdiv.

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Plovdiv Roman Stadium on the main pedestrian street of the city.

 

Day 4

After breakfast at the hotel in Plovdiv, road transfer to the Museum of Thracian Art (97 km, 1 h. 30 min. aprox.) next to the village of Aleksandrovo. Inside we will find an exact replica of the “Tumba Tracia de Aleksandrovo”, a Thracian mausoleum dating from the 4th century BC. C. The original tomb is in a mound near the museum. The high artistic value of the frescoes and the architecture distinguish it from all other Thracian cultural heritage monuments in the Balkans, being the largest Thracian mausoleum found to date. The images of its frescoes show scenes from the life of the Thracians: his clothes, the way they hunted, their banquets, their battles, their funeral rites and the weapons they used.

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Thracian Art Museum

In the paintings appear for example: a horseman and an infantryman in close combat, harnessed horses depicted in incredible detail, a banquet with people at a table using different silver and gold utensils, hunters on horseback chasing wild boars and deer. The scenes depicted even provide information about the weapons the Thracians used, some of which would be unknown were it not for this grave, because there have been no traces of them. This visit will allow us to get a realistic idea of ​​the clothing and weapons that Spartacus could carry while he was free in Thrace, before being enslaved…

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

One of the Thracian horsemen depicted in the Aleksandrovo Mausoleum 4th century BC. C.

 

Then transfer to the Black Sea Coast, specifically to Nesebar (245 km, 3 h. aprox.), whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was established more than 3200 years. The Thracians settled there at the end of the Bronze Age. They called it Melsambria, What did the city of Melsas mean, which was probably the name of the founder of the settlement. The Dorians succeeded them (ancient greek tribe) who arrived in the city at the end of the 6th century. C. Under your control, the settlement expanded: a fortification wall was built, residential neighborhoods emerged, etc. At the beginning of the 1st century AD. C. the city became part of the Roman Empire.

We will visit the old quarter of Nesebar with its cobbled streets on foot, its low houses and its medieval atmosphere combined with a bustling commercial life for its many souvenir shops, local artists and artisans.

Overnight at hotel 3*** from the new part of Nesebar.

 

Nesebar Old Town

Nesebar Old Town

 

Day 5

From Nesebar transfer to the Historical Complex “Ancient Village” in the village of Neofit Rilski (120 km, 2 h. aprox.). This theme park is a huge open-air complex that reproduces a Neolithic village and where we will take the opportunity to visit its Thracian Museum that has a valuable collection of original pieces and replicas of Thracian gold treasures, weapons, ceramics, coins and wax statues of Thracian warriors.

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Theme park “Ancient Village” and Neophyte Rilski (Bulgaria)

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among the treasures is an exact replica of the “Panagyurishte Golden Treasure”. A treasure that dates back to the 4th century BC. C. The find consists of nine solid gold utensils, decorated with various zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures. The treasure is unique not only for its weight in gold, a total of 6.1 kilograms, but also for the originality of the shapes and decorations, and its exquisite craftsmanship. It is decorated with scenes from mythology: images of gods and heroes. It was made in a local Thracian workshop and some believe it belonged to the Thracian King Seuthes III. Used by the ruler in religious rituals. The amphora was used to twin with another person; both had to drink at the same time from the two holes at the bottom.

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Solid gold cup belonging to the Treasury of Panaguiúrishte , IV century a.C.

 

Then transfer to Sveshtari (135 km. , 1 h 35 min. aprox.) to visit the Thracian Mausoleum of Sveshtari, the original tomb of the s. III a.C. In Bulgaria there are hundreds of burial mounds that hide tombs of ancient Thracian nobles and rulers but only a few of them have been excavated and investigated. This particular tomb next to that of Kazanlak are the only two that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The Sveshtari Mausoleum is distinguished from the rest by the stone statues inside, ten beautiful female figures with their hands up like caryatids, exceptional artistic work that distinguishes it from other Thracian tombs in the Balkans. The rich decoration and perfection of the tomb architecture, speak for themselves of the enormous political power of the ruler who was buried here. There is also a Museum that explains the history of the tomb and collects other archaeological remains found inside it..

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Mausoleum of Tracio de Sveshtari. UNESCO World Heritage

 

Finally transfer to Ruse, riverside city of the Danube river (103 km. 1h. 30 min. aprox.). Ruse is known as the “One” of Bulgaria for its wide squares and its streets with old houses of the nobility from the beginning of the 20th century. We will take the opportunity to see the Danube river that in this part of Europe, close to its mouth in the Black Sea has a considerable width. On the other side is Romania. Hotel accommodation 4**** of Ruse.

 

Day 6

After breakfast at the hotel in Ruse we set off following the road parallel to the Danube river between the city of Ruse and the town of Svishtov (83 km. 1 h. 20 min. aprox.) . In this town on the banks of the Danube River, the Ancient Heritage Festival is held at the beginning of June “Danube Eagle” representing the Roman era during the occupation of Thrace, its ancient traditions and battles.

 

buscando a espartaco en tracia

Parade of the participants in the historical festival “Eagle of the Danube” through the streets of Svishtov.

Every year, Historical groups and associations from different countries participate in the festival program. Attendees witness gladiator tournaments, Roman legions running military marches and can get acquainted with the equipment, cuisine and ancient rituals from the Thracian and Roman times on site.

The festival takes place in an incomparable setting, the ancient Roman city of Novae. The conquest of ancient Thrace by the Roman imperial legions led to the creation of new forts on the natural border of the Danube to defend the new borders of the Empire. One of those military camps was Novae. It was built around the 46 d.C., the Legio VIII Augusta being garrisoned. The history of Novae is really linked to another legion installed there from the year 69 d.C.: the Legio I Italica, founded by Emperor Nero in the year 66 d.C.

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Representations of the Thracian and Roman times in the archaeological complex of the Roman city of Novae

In the afternoon, after the show we traveled by road to the town of Lovech (96 km., 1 h. 30 min. aprox.) Hotel accommodation 4**** de Lovech.

 

Day 7

After breakfast, a short walk through the center of Lovech crossing the covered bridge over the Osam River. Get to know the attractions of Lovech here.

 

Searching for Spartacus in Thrace: the origin of a legend

Lovech, with its covered bridge (of wood) over the Osam River.

 

After a short transfer by road (71 km., 1 h. 15 min. aprox.) to the cave of Prohodna . It is a unique cave because towards the middle of the cave there are 2 huge holes in the karst rock roof shaped like eyes, known as "the Eyes of God". The mystical character of this phenomenon comes from afar, the Thracian tribes performed a ritual inside the cave about the beginning of spring and about the cereal harvest to ask for a good harvest.

 

Los "Ojos de Dios" desde dentro delac ueva de Prohodna

The “God's eyes” from within the cave of Prohodna. Ancient Thracian place of worship.

After visiting this cave, transfer to return to Sofia (114 km. 1 h. 45 min. aprox.). Hotel accommodation 4**** From Sofia.

 

Day 8

Breakfast at the hotel. Visit the city center to get to know some of its tourist places, including the Archaeological Museum that contains a valuable collection of Thracian treasures and other relics from Roman and Neolithic times. More details of the Archaeological Museum of Sofia here.

 

Gold Thracian funeral mask

Pure gold Thracian funeral mask, attributed to the Thracian king Teres I (reigned of 480 al 450 a. C.)

At the time set by the flights, Transfer by vehicle to Sofia airport and farewell to the guide at the terminal gate.

 

Travel Prices ” Searching for Spartacus in Thrace ” – 8 days.

Prices including VAT (with Spanish speaking guide, transport, hotel and breakfast) :
Minimum group 2 persons – since 1.952 € / person
Minimum group 4 persons – since 1.560 € / person
Minimum group 6 persons – since 1.230 € / person

Optional:

  • Half or full board (no drinks): check price please.
  • Single use room: 165,00 € / person.
What includes:

• Reception at Sofia airport upon arrival. • Spanish-speaking driver-guide service throughout the program, Spanish nationality • Transfers according to itinerary in tourism with air conditioning. • Guided tours in Spanish on foot specified by the program. • Fuel costs, parking and tolls. • Accommodation in a double use room in hotels of 3*** and 4**** during 7 nights. • Bed and breakfast regime • Transfer to Sofia airport on the day of departure. • Administration fees.

What is not included:

• Plane tickets. • Optional excursions or visits not reflected in the program. • Entrances to tourist places, museums, caves, monasteries, festivals, attractions, etc. • Price of extra services in hotels. • Telephone expenses, laundry or other personal expenses. • Travel assistance insurance, nor cancellation, nor doctors, nor repatriation. • Tips and personal expenses. • Drinks of all kinds. • Meals or dinners. • Excursions not specified in the program. • Any other concept not specified as included. • Refunds due to the fact that any of the stages or visits reflected in the itinerary could not be carried out regardless of the reason..

 

 

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