Vratsa's Regional History Museum opened its doors in 1953, but the stockpiling of its collection began as early as just after the Liberation by Vratsa community centre activists.
Its building is among the few in Bulgaria specially designed and built for a museum. With a total area of 1500 square meters, its collection is in possession of significant artefacts for European civilization as well as for the history of mankind. Therefore, make sure to include it in your must-see places list for Vratsa.
The museum is divided into sections that present different stages of the region's history, although tracing the timeline is rather difficult, given the way the exhibits are laid out.
The ground floor houses the Archaeology Hall, where you can see artefacts from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages. Among the most interesting exhibits are the two in situ burials from the excavations at Okhoden near Vratsa, representing the earliest agricultural civilization in Europe (6th millennium BC). You will be able to see Todorka and Khristo – as they were fondly christened by archaeologists who unearthed them – in embryonic poses. The two graves have oval shape, probably symbolizing a mother's womb. Immediately next to them sits a clay altar with deer antlers, the embodiment of masculinity.
Do not miss the unique jade amulet of the Mother Goddess, discovered during the Okhoden excavations. The amulet was chosen as the symbol of "Todorka Sun", the ancient cultures festival. Among the finds on display in this section are the jaws of a rhinoceros and a mammoth, which provide evidence that our lands provided habitat to rhinoceroses and the predecessors of modern elephants.
On the second floor, behind a window, you will also see some of the most interesting finds from the Thracian period: the treasure from the tombs of the Mogilan Mound in Vratsa's centre (dating back to IV century BC). Most impressive are the knee-pad depicting the Thracian goddess Bendida and the golden wreath worn by the Triballi princess. These are only some of the rich finds from the three burials in the mound. You will also see artefacts from the Thracian silver treasure from Bukiovtsi (IV century BC), as well as the gilded Thracian treasure from Galiche (II century BC).
This museum section has the 13th century stone inscription, which for the first time mentions the existence of a medieval monastery and fortress named "Vratitsa". The second floor also has a section dedicated to Khristo Botev and his Chetniks. The most interesting piece in the Revival Hall is the flag of the Vratsa revolutionary district, sewn by Mitza and Kalitza Hadzhikrustev. Unfortunately, this flag was never raised.
The third floor Is occupied by three fascinating collections:
- The Rogozen treasure (VI-IV c. BC), which is the world's largest Thracian trove, with its total of 165 silver and gilded vessels.
- The only "Paper Museum" in the world where you can see 3D models of emblematic monuments of both Bulgarian and world culture. The models' author is Krasimir Todorov, an artist who has developed his unique Zn Art technology.
- The Atomic Hall is the newest addition to the museum, only open since 2017. Its collection traces the construction and operation of the six nuclear units of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant. The models and technical gadgetry might arouse the curiosity of both adults and children.
Do not miss the Gradeshnitsa clay plate (5th millennium BC), which purportedly is the earliest proto-script in the world (the oldest Egyptian hieroglyphs are dated back to 3200 BC. You will find the plate, along with other exhibits, at the entrance of the room with the Rogozen Treasure.
On your way out of the museum, make sure you also register another remarkable exhibit on display straight across from the museum's entrance: "Kiriakodromion or that is to say Nedelnik" (or "Sofroniye"). This is the first printed book in new Bulgarian language penned by Sofronii Vrachanski and out in 1806 in the Romanian town of Ramnicu Valcea.
The museum's address is: 3 David Todorov Str.
Museum working hours:
Monday - Friday 9am - 5.30pm (uninterrupted)
Weekends and public holidays 9.00 am - 12.00 pm; 1 pm - 5:30 pm
12.00 - 13.00 (advance booking)
No visitors will be admitted after 5.00 pm.
Closed: December 31st and January 1st
Free admission: The first Monday of every month
From 02/01/2020 to 03/31/2020, the Ethnographic and National Revival Compound "St. Sofronii Vrachanski" during weekends and public holidays may only be visited with advance booking made by Friday, 5:30 pm.