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Bulgarian Essay on Connection with the Heritage of the Countries


A number of ancient civilizations, including the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Ostrogoth’s, East and West Slavs, Varangian’s and the Bulgars have left their mark on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. Due to this great variety of influences, Bulgaria has adopted many traditions.
            The heritage of the country is a combination between the nature, the history, the traditions. A lot of the legends are connected with the period of the Ottoman yoke – 500 years, during which Bulgaria was a part of the Ottoman empire and the life and daily routine of Bulgarians was defined and governed by the Turks. A lot of them are connected to mysterious places such as caves, rock formations, stone clusters, that needed explanation. And some of the legends are quite clear with the message that ancient civilizations, which lived here, left their print on the heritage of Bulgaria.

In Bulgarian legends three main types of heritage are present:

  • one is connected with the main religion of the country – Christianity -and consists of religious sites, churches, places where holy people lived and did their miracles (the stone chapel of St. Petka is an axample for that);
  • the other type is connected with the formation of the natural sites  – rocks, rivers, mountains (the legends for the formation of Belintash, Belogradchik rocks and Rhodopa mountain are examples for that) or about places, which were inhabited by mythical creatures or heroes;
  • and there is a third type of heritage connected with the craftsmanship of certain people – building sites (houses, bridges, roads). The legends of this type usually refer to the skills of people who built the sites as something extraordinary, sometimes devilish, or sometimes quite the opposite – built with wit and skills to overcome the challenges set before the craftsmen by the Devil himself (example for this is the legend for the Devil’s bridge).  

In general heritage is not usually the main point in Bulgarian legends – it is more a background of important events happening and moral lessons learned from characters or explaining how natural sites are formed. History, traditions, legends - are the basis on which the national consciousness of every nation is built. This is its legacy. Traditions are being associated with legends and make legend part of the national wealth and heritage and Bulgaria is not an exception.

In the legend of the Devil's bridge one of the main types of Bulgarian heritage is in the focus of the legend - a stone bridge. Many Bulgarian legends are focused on the building traditions and craftsmanship of the builders - usually these are bridges, houses, churches and monasteries. In Bulgarian legends usually the building of the bridge/house/church is connected with overcoming some difficulties put before  the builders from Evil (Satan, Devil, evil men of power). A lot of Bulgarian legends also consider the necessity to build a human's shadow in the building in order to make it strong as it is in the legend of the Devil's Bridge.

Similar heritage can be seen in the Romanian legend of Meșterul Manole, the Lithuanian legends about the building of the Vilnjus and Kaunas city foundations.

Belogradchik rocks legend is a representative of other types of legends in Bulgaria that are connected to the natural heritage Bulgaria has - mountains, specific rock formations, rivers, etc.  In this legend there are stories explaining how exactly the rocks were formed, since a lot of them are considered to be similar to human figures.

The idea of creating legends about the stone formations around Europe is quite common and this can be seen between the similarities of this Bulgarian legend and the Romanian legends: The Lady’s Rocks’, The dragon’s garden; also in the Italian legends: Saint Galgano and the Sword in the Rock, Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss.

The legend of Belintash is another Bulgarian legend connected to the formation of natural sites and the specific characteristic these sites have. It is believe that Belintash is a magical place and there are a lot of wells, pits, engravings, which people connect with the divine energy and the connection between life and death. 

In terms of cultural heritage Belintash legend is very similar to the Romanian legends: The dragon’s garden, The Lady’s Rocks’,  Meșterul Manole (well), and the Italian legends about Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss (natural formations).

The legend of Rhodopa is a legend about the formation of one of the most beautiful mountains in the country. It tells about the beautiful maiden Rhodopa, who was turned into a mountain from a jealous god, who wanted her love, beauty only for himself. The idea of the legend that the mountain is a girl comes also from the gentle, curvy landscape this mountain has. As in other Bulgarian legends people have looked for ways to explain the world around them with everyday situations, close to them. The motive of the extreme beauty of Bulgarian women is part of many legends and it still believed that Bulgarian women are among the most beautiful in the world.

The legend of Saint Petka and the stone bread is deeply connected with one of the darkest periods in Bulgarian history - the 500 years of Ottoman yoke. In the legend it says how st.Petka tries to escape the infidel soldiers, who wanted to catch her. Relying on her faith in God she managed to escape and the place where she hid in the mountain (a stone cave) was turned into chapel, keeping the evidnece of her footprints and the bread which turned into stone when the soldiers came in.

This legend has similarities with the Romanian legends of The dragon’s garden and The Lady’s Rocks’, also with the Italian legend of  Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss and the Polish legend about the Gingerbread and of Mount Ślęża.

The Devil's throat cave is a legend that connects various myths and natural phenomena in one  magical story with different characters and events. The Devil's throat cave is one of the caves in Bulgaria in which no matter how deep it was studied there are still strange events happening for which the scientist do not have a proper explanation. This is probably the reason why there are so many variations of legends connected with the cave - people looking to explain the natural pehnomena there (for example if you put wood in the river flowing in the cave it doesn't appear on the other end; if you do the same with die it takes a long time for it to appear from a different place). People say the river goes to Hell, hence the legend of Orpheus who went through the Devil's throat cave to save his loved one - Eurydice.

It is considered to be the Devil's throat cave because the image of the Devil can be seen on one of the stones in the cave and it is a vertical cave, formed by the collapse of the Earth’s layers. The cave descends straight down without branching in either direction.

This Bulgarian legend is particularly similar to the Polish Legend of Mount Ślęża - which talks about the gateway to Hell and the Romanian legend - The bride's cave.


The Pirin's dragon legend is again a Bulgarian legend connected with events in the mountains. It is common for all Bulgarian legends to happen in the mountains, considering the terrain of the country (mostly mountains).  When it comes to cultural heritage usually the places where the events from the legends happen are places to explain why settlements were built there. In the legend of the Pirin dragon it explains how the village survived the battle between two dragons and how the Pirin's dragon offspring started one of the strongest clans in the country.