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Northeast Bulgaria > Pliska > The First Capital

The first Capital of Danubian Bulgaria

The town of Pliska (population: 1243; 140 m above sea-level) is situated in the south end of the Loudogorie plateau. It is 404 km north-east of Sofia, 24 km north-east of Shoumen, 6 km north-west of Kaspichan, 6 km west of Novi Pazar, and 2 km south of the remains of the first Bulgarian capital of the same name.

Two kilometres away from the present day town are the remains of the imposing construction of Pliska - the first capital of Danubian Bulgaria in 681, the year of its foundation by Khan Asparouh until 893-894 when the capital was moved to Preslav by Tsar Simeon I the Great. The town consisted of three concentric fortifications. The Exterior City is marked by a moat in the ground with a rampart enclosing a rectangular territory of 23 square kilometres. Almost in the middle of the Exterior City is the interior fortress surrounding the Interior City. The fortress has a solid stone wall (2.5 m wide), made of huge ashlar slabs. At each corner there was a trapezium-shaped tower, and on each of the four walls there were two five-angled towers and a gate. The main entrance is the east gate. The third inner defensive zone is a solid-built brick wall surrounding the citadel situated in the centre of the Interior City.

The most characteristic and interesting architectural monuments whose remains have been preserved until these days are:

The Grand Palace (the best preserved building in the Interior City) - the throne-room of the Bulgarian rulers was a formal representative building for the Khans Council, the official receptions of foreign envoys, and for rich parties. His throne was there, as well. The size of the palace is as follows: 52 m long and 26.5 m wide. It was built by Khan Omourtag (814-831) whose merit is the turning of Pliska into one of the biggest East-European centres in early Middle Ages.

The Small Palace (the most imposing building in the citadel), occupying an area of 568 square metres was the Khans residence. Unlike the Grand Palace the Small Palace is more exquisite and richer. Besides the Small Palace the citadel houses the temples, the catchment basin, the swimming pools, the farm houses. Pliska underwent not only great constructions but also a high degree of improvements, i.e. floor heating installation, drainage system of clay and lead pipes for the clean and dirty water, glass windows!

Prince Boris erected the Grand Basilica (situated in the Exterior City, 1.5 km north-east of the Interior City. It has three naves (the biggest on the Balkan Peninsula) and is imposing in size (100 m long,; 30 m wide) - one of the most stately Bulgarian architectural works dating back to the second half of 9th century.

It is in Pliska that one can trace back the development of Bulgarian architecture from the ancient Bulgarian epoch to the period of adoption of European features. There is a rich archaeological museum near the excavations (tel.: 05323 2271). The oldest source of information about Pliska is the inscription on the stone column of 821 (Khan Omourtags) in the vicinity of the village of Chatalar (at present Tsar Kroum railway station)

Under the Turkish rule the name of the settlement was changed to Aboba, which was preserved till 1925. After that it was called Pliskov, and in 1947 - Pliska. 

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