Primorsko: Walk to the Thracian cliffs – sanctuary Beglik Tash

Beglik Tash is a complex of high cliffs groups, each with a different role, served in the ancient Thracian rituals at sunrise. It is near Primorsko, Bulgaria.  Аpart from its history and beautiful scenery, the site is attractive for the tourists because offers a couple of possibilities for hiking trails to other historical sites and scenic landscapes – Bay “St. Paraskeva” , Cape “Maslen nos” , rock formation „Lion’s head“ and mouth of Ropotamo river (look at the bottom).

To get to the ancient thracian cliffs Beglik Tash, first you  have to go into the town of Primorsko. After that you shall pass along North Beach of Primorsko and “Perla” Residence and continue on the asphalt road through the forest. Soon you will reach an exit, where is a large sign reading “Бегликташ” and barrier.

How to get Beglik Tash around town of Primorsko, Bulgaria – map, route and GPX file
Download GPX File

The barrier and the gravel road leading to Beglik Tash
The barrier and the gravel road leading to Beglik Tash

The distance on the asphalt road from the North beach of Primorsko to the exit is 3 km and is preferable to take it by the car, or by bike. After the exit, there is a rough gravel road . The length of this road to the cliffs – sanctuary Beglik Tash is 1.4 km. You can pass on by car, by bike or by walking. The walking is an enjoyable experience – the forest is beautifull and sometimes whole herds of deer cross the road. When you reach the sanctuary , you have to pay an entrance fee of 2 BGN (around 1  € ) to view the site. There is a person who can tell you about the history of the sanctuary and could answer of questions. Opening hours are from early May to late August, for more information , as could be seen on this picture:

Thracian cliffs Beglik Tash – working time

If you go in the other seasons (autumn, winter, spring) then the barrier will be lowered and the rough gravel road will be in very poor condition due to rains. So if your car is not an offroad, you should go to the sanctuary, by walking. During these seasons, there will be no narrator in the sanctuary Beglik Tash.

A walk through the forest.

A walk through the forest.
Thracian cliffs – sanctuary Beglik Tash
One more view to the Megalith sanctuary
View of the rock platform

Origin of name

The name “Beglik Tash” comes from the turkish Beglik –(sheep’s tax ) and Tash – means rock. Originated from the tax in the form of sheeps that the pastors gave to the turkish tax-collectors here on the meadow in the front of the sanctuary. It happened during the period of Turkish domination on the Bulgarian lands ( from 14th century to 19th century)

History of the sanctuary

According to the scientists, the sanctuary began to function XV century BC. During excavations in the vicinity (2002-2004 led by archaeologists at Burgas Archaeological Museum) they found fragmented pottery, stone tools, Roman bronze coins which testify that the sanctuary was functioning until to IV century AD. The unique oval shapes are result of ancient volcanic activity in combination with Spheroidal weathering. Thracians took advantage of the natural assets and the location of the rocks . With a little working up by tools, they, probably, finished the rocks in a form suitable for their rituals. Beglik Tash consists of a central rock platform surrounded by other groups of dolmens, each with a specific function in the Orphic rites which took place here. In particular this is the sacred marriage between the Mother Goddess and the Sun God. The result of this marriage was the birth of the Hero, who has a key role in the Thracian beliefs.

Symbolism of the Thracian cliffs Beglik Tash, round the town of Primorsko, Bulgaria

1) Wedding bed

It consists of a lying stone, resembling the shape of a bed, so that the heads of the lying are turned to the east. This bed symbolizes the sacred marriage of the priest and the priestess.  Two large rocks surround the lodge. They are with carved wadding for liquids used during the ritual.

The wedding bed at Beglik Tash

2) Apostol tash – the womb

According to the archeologists, the gap under this stone was formed with the help of erosion and the use of tools. Probably, using ropes and logs, the thracians transported the rock to the location where we see it now. The amazing thing about it is how the whole tremendous stone stands only at two points, but It has been stable for several millennia till now. In the day of the summer solstice, the ray of sunrise passes through the gap, which, in Thracian symbolism, marks the fertilization of the Sun God to the womb of the Goddess Mother.

Apostol Tash – the womb
One more view to the womb

3) The Cave

It symbolizes the descent of the native Hero from the marriage of the Goddess Mother and the Sun God in the underworld, similar to the legend of Orpheus ( when he goes to the underworld). Probably there are channels below, but till now, excavations have not yet been made to prove it.

The Cave where descented the Hero

4) Throne

This is the place where the priest watched the whole ritual and the flowing sacred liquids – milk, vegetable juices, bloods and guts of the sacrificed animals. Аs a result, he preached the future.

The throne of the priest

5) The astronomical clock at the Beglik Tash sanctuary is comparable to Stonehenge (United Kingdom ), but from a very early age.

The astronomical clock in the sanctuary Beglik Tash

It consists of 16 stone cakes, which symbolize the months in the Thracian calendar (with 22-24 days,not 30 as in the contemporary calendar). Probably, the cakes have been erect 100-120 years ago, but after they began to be sloped. A tree (apparently at the age of 80 years) stopped their further tilting.

The tree stopping further subsidence of rock cakes

6) The priest’s house

You can see ruins of stone rectangular building with courtyard. Probably  the piligrims who were coming to the sanctuary had arrived from the harbor at St. Paraskeva bay. Тhey rested at the priest’s house before being admitted to the rituals at the sanctuary. The yard completely enclosed access from the sea to the sacred land of the sanctuary.

Ruins of the yard to the house of priest

7) The Labyrinth

In the Labyrinth, teenagers competed, passing obstacles. It happened in the times when there was no priest. Аs a result, the winner of the competition got to be priest.

The labyrinth test of young lads

Gallery of photos of the discovered ceramic vessels at the Beglik tash sanctuary exhibited in the Historical Museum of Primorsko:

Something interesting in the museum, that is worth seeing is a eloquent holographic Thracian priest. He will materialize in front of you and will tell you the legend of Begliktash. At a time when Christianity began spreading and became an official religion in the Roman Empire, the sanctuary was destroyed. The people involved with its service left (the first decades of the 4th century) and settled in the surrounding villages. But the memory, from their rituals to our day, dressed in Christian symbolism, has survived in the form of „nestinarstvo” (fire-dancing). It is believed that in its ancient thracian form it was a welcome of the summer solstice. The ritual was performed with dances and games on the fire and praising the sun , because the fire was perceived as its evening form.

According to the local people, till the 1950s, dancing on the fire women (nestinarka) had been danced here in the meadow of Begliktash. Later, the access to this place was forbidden, when the area was announced as a Perla hunting residence. For the reason that archaeologists reveal Beglik Tash  so late, in 2003.

Hiking trails starting from the sanctuary Beglik tash:

  1. From this place you can continue walking along the path leading to the unique bay of St. Paraskeva where you will see the ruins of a medieval church. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to watch rock formations at Cape Beglik Tash.
  2. A second good opportunity to continue the walk is to go to Cape Maslen nos on the newly built eco-path.
  3. A third good opportunity for a hiking trail is to go back to the asphalt road and continue to the mouth of the Ropotamo River.
  4. A fourth opportunity, suitable for mountaineers and adventurers, is to use the hiking trail leading to the Lion’s Head, which starts at the exit to Beglik Tash, but in the opposite direction.

For the other paths and landmarks in Ropotamo Reserve – look at the map of Ropotamo – reserve.

If you are planning a longer stay in the area, it is a good idea to choose Primorsko as a city for staying, because it has many hotels and lodgings, and can offer many entertainments to diversify your holliday at the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.

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