Beglik Tash an Ancient Thracian Sanctuary and Observatory With a Dog – Bulgaria

Located near Primorsko, Beglik Tash is a recent discovery.  The site was found on the hunting grounds near the residence of former communist head of the state, Todor Zhivkov.  This is how one of the greatest discoveries regarding Thracian history on the southern Black Sea coast, remained unknown to archeologists until 2003.

This property is now open to the public, and an aura of myths, legends, theories and speculations surround it.  Although closer to Primorsko; Beglik Tash is maintained and serviced by the Burgas Regional Museum and they will eagerly provide a guided tour upon request.

There are signs to help you find the place on your own, both inside and outside of Primorsko.   You could take a taxi there (15 min drive from downtown Primorsko) but pick-up from that location can be tricky. Your best bet is to drive yourself and if you do, you will find a small improvised parking lot at the foot of a Beglik Tash sign; leave your car there and follow the trail for about 10 minutes through the forest. Put on comfortable shoes and clothes and apply insect repellent and sunscreen.  There were a lot of bugs when we went and Mom was glad she had brought her little mosquito fan repellent.   Don’t forget water and snacks.

Lay of the land at the parking lot!

But, what is it?  Dating back to the Bronze Age, the ancients used the huge, local rocks found in abundance as building material, over a one and a half acre of land to build an ancient Thracian Sanctuary and Observatory.

Nature did not make this!

When we arrived, there were some ladies inside a neat wooden hut that provided us with an English two pager; as well as assuring us that dogs are absolutely welcome — even off leash! WOOOHOOO!  In fact I met another canine while I was there!

“Hey Amigo! Isn’t this place awesome?”

Armed with our English “two pager” and a pamphlet (with a map) we set-off on our self-guided tour.  This is what we found:

1)     The entrance for the sanctuary is from the southwest. This east-west axis serves as the central point for all the other finds inside the sanctuary.

2)     A stone “marriage bed” can be reached by a cliff path.  The bed is “made” to include a cushion. This cushion indicates that the heads of the priest and priestess – representing the Sun God and Mother Goddess on the night before summer equinox – were towards sunrise.

Dad talking to me … I am hidden by the not comfy looking bed!

3)     Two sacrificial stones surround the bed. Deep baths are dug into them, connected by outfalls for pouring of ritual liquids – wine, milk, olive oil, rain water. A place of sacrifice (mostly berries, apples, grapes, bread and seeds.  Only rarely animals and never humans).

Liquid sacrifices!

4)     A throne of stone is next; deep outfalls and crossing lines are dug around it, which join and form a large rectangle. Three “menhiris” (large round stones) lie in the eastern part of the circle. At the top of the highest “menhiri” is carved a “divine step”, 0.6 meters long, 0.34 meters wide. The same “divine step” can be found in the opposite southern section at the foot of the rock terrace. The divine steps mark the innermost sacred place, only determined for the ones, who are initiated to participate in the mysteries.

It needs a pillow … just sayin!

5)     A large round stone, named “menhiri” is marked and carved on top where the high priestesses feet would be placed when she “embodies” the Mother Goddess.  It is the highest point in the enclave.

SO? how do I get up there?

6)     Holes are carved in what seems a random pattern but is not.  They mirror where the constellation Pleiades is in the sky.  They were filled with oil (sunflower or olive) and lit to achieve a state of magical space by connecting earth to the heavens.

7)     The Apostol Tash at first just looks like a giant lump of rock in the shape of a heart.  But there is more to it.  The Thracian believed that if the initiated passed between the fissures, they would in fact symbolically pass from the land of the living to the land of the Gods.

Just passing through … nothing to see here.

8)     The Sundial is the most impressive but also the most difficult to notice. Because the stones are so large an aerial view would actually show more.  Consisting originally of 16 plates surrounding a obelix in the center – only 7 of them remain today still standing in their original spot.  They now lean on each other obliquely. An earthquake in the recent past is the likely reason for the collapse of the first big plate (roof) which then sadly dragged the others down in a domino effect.

This place is just so cool!

9)     The Sacred Cave is a classic megalithic monument.  Consisting of two upright stones supporting a large flat (horizontal) capstone – today only one upright stone remains – this one was/is the largest in Bulgaria. It symbolizes the womb of the mother Goddess. In other words the Earth.  Inside is a place of mystery and the place of birth and where heroes were made. The High priest would have embodied the Hero King, born to carry out heroic deeds. After his “birth” as he emerged from the cave he would appear under the massive arch illuminated by the sunrise and welcomed by pilgrims.

You can re-construct in your head right?

10)  Known as the Labyrinth but actually just a stone corridor where the uninitiated ones would squeeze through in pursuit of spiritual initiation.  It is said that the choices made inside, had to prove your determination to follow the path of higher spirituality.  Meant to represent the feat of Orpheus, symbolizing the descent into Hades from which one must return alive with the help of the Gods.

The symbol for male and female are carved on the ceiling!

11)  The Oracles house – or what remains of it – would have been the high priest’s home towards the end of the sanctuaries existence 94th century AD).  Around this time the old Pagan ways were dying off in pursuit of Christianity as a new Monastery was built nearby.  The cult of the Mother Goddess was swapped and traded for the worship of Saint Paraskeva, patroness of young mothers.

Pottery, stone tools and weapons, flints, coins, etc. were found during archaeological explorations. They show that the place was created in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC and was destroyed in the beginning of the 4th century AD. The lack of later constructions upon the original sanctuary has allowed the preservation of the unique sacred elements in their original form.

Our hosts set the table for a snack!

The view while we munch and have some water … not too shaby!

In Review: Comprising of a number of rocks of various sizes and shapes, some of which carved and mounted and all arranged in unique formations. Flatter rocks have ‘steps’; ‘circles’ and ‘basins’ carved in them and archeologists have found remains of dwellings and fireplaces nearby. There is a labyrinth (a long narrow fissure between 2 rocks), a cave in the shape of a woman’s lap, a huge rock standing on 2 points only, a stone throne for the chief priest and many more but the biggest attraction is the sun dial… of course.

I didn’t understand everything – and I don’t think we are meant to – but one thing is clear to me.  Believer in the Pagan ways or not, Beglik Tash is a mystical place, charged with spiritual energy and powers; a place where everyone should go at least once to heal, bond and recharge… and … IT IS DOG FRIENDLY!

Yipppeeee!

Have you visited an old Pagan site? Where? What were your thoughts?

37 Comments on “Beglik Tash an Ancient Thracian Sanctuary and Observatory With a Dog – Bulgaria

  1. How were they able to figure out so much about the site? I lived near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England when my father was an exchange teacher there. That was before it was closed off to the public and you could wander around the entire site. There’s another more spread out henge nearby, Avebury. It must have been a scary time. So much unknown. So much darkness. Of course, we live in scary times too–of our own making.

    • I have never been to the ones you mention… but I can tell you that Beglik Tash was all about hope, and light. Nothing dark about it at all. It was pretty awesome. It was a sanctuary as well as an observatory of the skies. Sort of like a place where people could connect to the Gods. I have no idea how they figured out what they did … I guess we’d have to ask an archaeologist!

      Sadly – i doubt I would be allowed near Stonehenge these days …poop.

  2. Amazing and mystical place! We go there every year and I am glad that this year we went with you – our dear friends!!!

  3. I so enjoy your blog posts! I have done my share of wandering, but you introduce me to so many new and fascinating places. Thanks for taking us on your adventures.

  4. Now THAT looks like something right up our alley! Nature, history, and serenity all wrapped into one. Seems like such an awesome place to spend an afternoon and it’s SO awesome that it’s dog friendly too. Win-win!

  5. I can say I have never visited a Pagan site. You are amazing at telling the history and the stories of places you visit!

  6. Wow, this is fascinating. And glad that dogs are welcome. Bet the dogs sniff out all sorts of interesting info that we humans would miss, too.

  7. Wow, such an informative post. The formations are inspiring and must have created a sense of wonder. I love the different types of rocks: throne, sacrifice, etc. Very cool.

  8. Wow – this is so rich in history and to resonant of the past and beliefs. Powerful things like these rocks let people connect to their faith, and it is really good for us to see things outside the, often dominant, Christian faith – which has a rich history itself, but which risks overwhelming our appreciation of sites like this.

    I feel as though I am walking with you. This has been such a treat because these things matter very much.

    • SO well put! and yes… we are more Pagan in our own beliefs so we always try and find these places. So glad you enjoyed this and thank you for this wonderful comment.

  9. It looks like you had a great time meeting another tiny buddy. Those larger rocks make you look so tiny and cuter than ever!

  10. Wow, that looks so beautiful! It’s amazing what human beings do to and how they respond to the awesomeness of nature!

  11. Oh my goodness I TOTALLY want to do a doggie photo session here! How gorgeous! And how great is it that it’s dog friendly? And a liquid sacrifice is one I can get behind!

  12. This sounds like a wonderful place to visit! I would love to see it for myself!

  13. I loved your post, but I have no idea where you are at! I did get that it’s dog friendly though which is what’s important, and extremely beautiful. Now I’ll Google some of the names and see what else I can learn! Love Dolly

  14. I’ve never visited a Pagan site before. I like the Sacred Cave picture the best. Interesting interpretation according to history about the womb. So much history.

    • So much of it goes far far further than what most people already think of as old. the romans were modern in fact.

    • They are. The bipeds have been to many – Europe is dotted with them – they always connect us to the past.

  15. Can definitely see it is a spiritual place. I actually think rocks like trees have incredible energy. Love the sun dial especially.

  16. What an interesting place. They certainly made use of those giant stones in ancient times, didn’t they! Pretty wild.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  17. What an awesome place- those rocks are impressive. I had never heard of it. Thank goodness that it was all preserved. Plus what a bonus it is dog-friendly.

    • I don’t know that it was intentionally preserved for the most part – not until recent history – I think it got forgotten in the woods. But that’s a good thing!

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