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Bulgaria

Dionysus sanctuary Perperikon to become tourist centre

Author: Svetlana Guineva Date: Thu, Sep 11 2008 1029 Views
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Ministry of Regional Development and Public Work announced the public procurement for a project involving the establishment of a tourist centre at the Perperikon archaeological site.

The project, sponsored through the PHARE programme, aims to increase tourism in the Bulgarian-Greece region of the eastern Rhodope Mountains.

The allotted 2.4 million euro would cover further archeological research, as well as installation of water and electrical systems. A new centre for tourists with a showroom is meant to become an attractive assets of the envisioned recreation areas.

Perperikon is an archaeological complex 15 km northeast of Kurdjali and, according to specialists, it features a sanctuary, a sacred city and well-defined city walls. Many have speculated that this was the sanctuary of Dionysus or Bacchus, the patron of agriculture and theatre, the most beloved god of wine and drunken frenzy.

In recent days, some scholars question whether Dionysus was a Greek god and instead indicate that his origin should be traced to Anatolia or Thrace, where he was worshiped as a god of the sun.

From the part that has been unearthed so far, it is evident that the complex boasts a composition typical of the Neolithic era or the `New' Stone Age, beginning about 10 000 BCE.
In addition to the massive city walls, Perperikon has an acropolis built out of large stone pieces situated at the highest part of the site. A palace, hewn into the rocks, occupies an area of 10 000 sq m. The site also has southern and northern `suburbs' with visible pathways, houses and worship grounds.

The latest archaeological research indicates that the site has been inhabited as early as the end of the sixth century BCE. According to prominent Bulgarian historian Alexander Fol, the name derives from Per, the Thracian god of stone.

During the 13th-14th century, Perperikon served as a civil and religious centre within the Byzantine territory. After 1346, most fortresses in the eastern Rhodope Mountains were destroyed and have never been restored.

So far, archaeologists have discovered pottery, domestic objects and coins, some of which have been cut during the time of Bulgarian ruler Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331/71), indicating his short domination over the region in 1343.

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