The present publication is preparated with the support of the European Union. Responsibility for the content of this publication is borne solely by the Municipality of Varna and "Sustainable Development" Foundation. By no way does this publication represent the view of the European Union.
Sea capital of Bulgaria

According to the ancient authors Odessos (now Varna) was established by exiles from Asia Minors town of Milet in the second quarter of 6th century BC. The name of the town Odessos (dwelling, situated at water) is not Greek, but originates from an earlier language layer, which implies that here was existed a more ancient settlement. Within a short period Odessos became one of major seaport and trade centers in Black Sea region.

Being included for several decades within the boundaries of Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), after the death of his governor in Thrace - Lysimachos (281 BC), the town restored its independence and became the major trade center in the Western Black Sea Region.

In 15 AD Odessos was definitely included in the Roman Empire and preserved its importance as seaport, trade, production and cultural center.

After the foundation of the Bulgarian state in 681 AD, the town was burned down by the Slavs and abandoned for a long period. For the first time medieval Varna was settled again in the end of 9th beginning of 10th century. Its new name the town obtained by the Slavic word vran (black).

Its real urban appearance, however, the settlement has acquired only after its seizure in 971 by the Byzantine emperor John Cymmischios. The port was restored again, and the huge amount of coins found from this period evidence for the economic growth of the medieval town.

In 1201 the Bulgarian Tzar Kaloyan has taken back the town within the boundaries of the Bulgarian state. The dominance at the commercial markets of Black Sea Region by Venice and Genoa in the end of 13th century resulted in significant growth of economic life of Varna. The town exported diverse crafts products, and mainly grains from the productive lands of Northeast Bulgaria, and imported luxurious goods for Bulgarian nobles.

After 1366, Varna was given by the Bulgarian Tzar Ivan Alexandar to the Dobrudja Ruler Dobrotitsa, who made it his capital and bishops center.

Varna was conquered by the Ottoman troops in 1389, but the town did not lose its previous seaport and trade importance for the lands being situated on the north of the Balkan.

From the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 until the present days Varna continued its development as seaport, trade, production and cultural center and demonstrated its position as one of most dynamic developing regions in Bulgaria, deserving its name of sea capital of Bulgaria.

Last updated: 19.01.2005