|The city of Varna (population 314 539) is situated at the Bay of Varna, 470 km
east of Sofia. Varna is the biggest city at the Bulgarian Black-sea coast. It
is situated at the same latitude with Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Livorno. It is
nestled in the deep valley between the Frengen Plareau and the Avren Plateau,
where two lakes were formed during the polyotsen - the Beloslav Lake is to the
west of the city and the other - Varna Lake is within the limits of the city
Varna is a city over 110 km long, its width, including the new residential
quarters is nearly 9 km. The city is like an amphitheatre and follows the
curves of the Bay of Varna. It is surrounded by lots of gardens, vineyards and
deciduous groves. Almost the whole territory is occupied with private
country-houses and their small farms. The city is a regional administrative
Varna has a history that could be traced back for thousand years. Due to its
favourable location and visibility of almost 270 degrees the small cape, which
now hosts the sea station, was inhabited by an ancient Thracian tribe –
Corbisy in their small fishermen’s settlement.
In 6th century BC a Greek polis (settlement) inhabited by colonists and
settlers from Millet emerged here under the name of Odessos. The town became a
fishing and farming colony and later on in the 5th century BC it turned into a
real centre of commerce.
Up to the Roman domination the Thracian god Darzalas was worshipped rather
than the common gods Apollo and Dionyssus. Old Greek and Roman sources
evidence that in Darzalas’ honour processions, mysteries, games and
competitions were organised.
The town had been under the siege of the troops of Alexander of Macedonia in
the middle of the 4th century BC but after the siege was put down the town was
given autonomy within the limits of his Empire. After the uprising and its
liberation during the rule of Lisimah the town re-established its supremacy at
the north Black Sea coast. Up to the 1st century BC it was an independent
polis (town) and minted coins with the effigy of its patron god. Conquered by
Mark Lukulus’ legions, it became a Roman regional centre of great importance.
There the great epic poet of Rome Ovidii stayed in his way to the town of
Tommy (nowadays Kyustendzha, Romania) where he was sent on exile.
Gradually Odessos lost its supremacy in the region, which was then gained by
the town of Martsianopolis (nowadays Devnya) founded by the emperor Trayan.
Beeing conquered and devastated several times during the barbarian invasions
it was for some time within the Byzantine Empire then out of its territories.
In 9th century it was already called Varna. It is supposed that the name
originates from the horse people in Central Asia – toponymy (name of an area)
and hydronymy (name of a water basin) in India (the river that runs into the
Ganges at Varanassi) and from the concept of caste (colour). After the
numerous wars between Bulgaria and Byzantine, the town was included in the
territory of Bulgaria in the beginning of the 13th century during the reign of
king Kaloyan. Its defence system consisted of three strongholds: one - at the
Cape Galata; other - at Cape St. Dimitar and the third, called Petrich was
near the lake of Beloslav.
Despite its reliable defence system, the town was conquered by the Turks in
1391 and it soon declined. In 1444, during the crusade of the Polish king
Vladislav Yagello (Varnenchik) and the Hungarian leader Yanosh Huniady, the
town was under the siege of the knights. Despite the fact that the troops of
the Christian coalition fought bravely they suffered a complete defeat. The
young king Vladislav was killed. The citizens of Varna built a mausoleum in
In the course of time the town more and more acquired and Oriental outlook.
Many Turks settled there. Mosques, konaks (town-halls) and Turkish baths were
built. The construction of churches was strongly forbidden for a long time.
Varna became a mighty stronghold, which guarded the north-east borders of the
Ottoman Empire and a commercial and craftsmen’ centre of great importance.
During the Russian-Turkish War in 1828 the town was conquered by the Russian
troops and hold under their rule for some time. An uplift of the national
spirit began in the following decades. Schools, community centres and churches
In 1878 Varna was finally liberated from Ottoman rule and became the most
important Bulgarian seaport town. At the end of the 19th century it was
connected with Sofia by railway. Many factories were opened, and industrial
fishing was developing. Varna quickly established as a seaside resort as well,
enhanced by the European fashion in architecture and water transport.
Entertainment establishments and holiday houses were built. Varna won the fame
of a favourite place for Bulgarian cultural elite.
For a short time the city was renamed Stalin. After 1956 its previous name was
Varna became a centre of the North Black Sea coast and a starting point for
the design and building of the numerous resorts around it. Marine business was
developing – from fishing to the transfer of goods between the East and the
West. Nowadays Varna is an industrial city - the third biggest one in Bulgaria
after Sofia and Plovdiv.