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Greece - Bulgaria 2007-2013


The prehistoric settlement and Thracian Sanctuary is situated on the outskirts of the Rhodope Mountains, near the village of Dolno Dryanovo, in the locality “Gradishteto”. It is located 13 km of asphalt road east-southeast from Garmen, followed by 2.5 km of asphalt road northeast from the center of Dolno Dryanovo village, plus about a 5 minutes of walk along a forest trail on the right side of the road to Satovcha.

This ancient temple dates back to around fifth millennium BC and according to archaeologists it is one of the largest ones in Bulgaria, and possibly in Europe.

The sanctuary is situated on a ridge, approximately 700 m long, oriented as follows: north - northwest – south – southeast. On the ridge with an area of 20 hectares can be discerned three prominent rocky hills with a maximum elevation of 879.80 m. The height is naturally protected, accessible only from the northwest. From all other sides, it is surrounded by an impressive picturesque canyon. The slopes are very steep, and in some places the cliffs appear to be almost vertical; to the east – northeast they form an abyss 50 meters deep.Here and there on the hill’s crest, mainly on the southern slope there are a number of small, naturally levelled spots surrounded by bare, picturesque rocks.

Depending on the point of view, some of the rocks can be very interesting and resemble human profiles, figures of animals, fish, turtles and birds.The majority of figures are represented by groups of elements and oriented in the direction east – west. The complexity of the compositions, their quality and type, as well as their strict spatial orientation allows suggestions that most of the figures result from handmade engraving and processing of rocks. As examples can be given the levelling of rocks, the construction of grooves, the so-called “sharapani” (round holes in the rocks, probably used to support a wooden structure on the rock), steps, etc.

The Discovery of the Sanctuary The sanctuary was discovered in the early spring of 2000 by the the late Prof. Todor Boyadzhiev during one of his many trips to the Rhodopes. During a random stop on the road to Satovcha, he noticed a rock formation, which he called the “Purgatory”, while the locals call it “promushvachka” (a narrow passage). During his first visit, the professor did not notice the human head, now iconic to the sanctuary, which he later named after the god “Tangra”.In an interview he said:“Once you pass the “Purgatory”, it is important where you decide to go – to the left or to the right. In general, most of the objects in the Sanctuary are “visible” only in the light intended by those who created them – primarily from a certain angle and place, not from anywhere. And in order to “see” them, it is not enough to look. It also takes time to get to the Spirit of the Sanctuary. Time to understand his messages.

Messages which, although possessing meaning that seems obvious “afterwards”, have been blurred in our memory by the information waves that surround us.The process is analogous to our perception of Him in our souls – it may be sudden, but never immediate. It is required that a person goes down a road – a road which can possibly be hard. It seems to me that I saw “Tangra-1” only in 2001. “Tangra-3” was my discovery for 2005...”Saved from the treasure-hunters In the period 2000-2005, the professor took many friends and colleagues to see his discovery. It cannot be claimed that during that period the sanctuary was not known to the locals from nearby villages. In 2005, on one of his visits, he noticed excavations left from treasure-hunting activities.

These were concentrated in the central areas of the Sanctuary, where supposedly rituals were once performed. Near the excavation pits there were pottery fragments, including an entire pot, lying in the grass 5-6 m away from the “beard” of “Tangra-1.”In May 2006 Professor Boyadzhiev sent a warning signal and the sanctuary was visited by a team of archaeologists from the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski.” It was then that the treasure-hunters’ excavation pits of various sizes and depths were confirmed and described in detail. It was established that a systematic treasure-hunters’ intervention disrupted the cultural layer and the structures. In June 2006, a procedure was started and by an order of the Director of NIPK (National Institute for Monuments of Culture) was established a joint committee chaired by M. Ivanov – a NIPK expert and with representatives of NAIM-BAS, Sofia University, the museum in Gotse Delchev, the municipality of Garmen and others.Since July 2008, the site in Gradishteto is categorized as a cultural monument, in accordance with the current law in Bulgaria. With its basic elements and characteristics, the sanctuary fits with the known features of the Thracian rock sanctuaries.



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