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