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Varna History, Bulgaria

Varna is identified as the biggest city in North Bulgaria. Apart from being a marine capital of the country, Varna is famously known as a center of business and commerce. The city’s present status is backed by a tumultuous but colorful past. Similar to other European cities, Varna History is something worth noting and discussing.

Varna History – Early History

Varna, just like Plovdiv, is one of the most ancient European cities. It is believed that even before the Thracians occupied the city, other tribes have already settled in the area. This account is proven by the excavated gold relics from the 5th millennium BC. Varna was able to defend its territory from the invading force led by Philip II of Macedonia. However, it bowed down to Alexander the Great’s power in 335 BC. Soon after, it became a Roman city and was known at that time as Odessus.

The name Varna was first mentioned after the Balkans were conquered by the Slavs between the 6th and 7th centuries. In 681 AD, Khan Aspurah, who established the first kingdom of Bulgaria, reached the city and started to fortify it in preparation of an impending Byzantine attack.

Varna History – Middle Ages and Renaissance

In 1201, Varna was annexed to the second Bulgarian Kingdom under the rule of Tsar Kaloyan. It was also during this century that the city started to progress and became an important center of commerce. Many merchant ships from neighboring European cities docked in Varna. In the 14th century, it grew to be the most significant seaport between the Danube delta and Constantinople.

Two years after Varna became the capital of the Karyuna Principality, in 1389, the Ottoman Empire took control over the city. Just outside the city walls, the Battle of Varna occurred on November 10, 1444. This was one of the last main battles of the Crusades. This war between the Ottomans and the Crusaders ended in the defeat of the latter, causing Varna to remain under the Ottoman rule.

Varna History – Late Ottoman Rule

In the late 18th century, the Russians were able to get hold of Varna for a short period of time. The city returned to the Ottoman rule in 1830 after the fortress was destroyed. In the mid-19th century, France and Britain made Varna their chief naval base and headquarters.

At the second-half of the 1800s, development in the city endured as the first railroad in the country linked Varna to Rousse. This marked an important event in Varna History. As a result, Istanbul, the Turkish capital, was connected with Central Europe. The city port evolved into a key food supplier to the Ottoman capital.

Varna History – Bulgarian Independence

The city of Varna was liberated from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 and was relinquished to the newly liberated Bulgarian country. The city was at the front of the First Balkan War and World War I. This resulted to the weakening of its economy. After the wars, Varna worked towards the development of its industry and labor.

By the end of the 1950s, many people discovered the beauty of this city and started visiting it. Today, the government acts in preserving its cultural heritage and at the same time continues on modernizing the city. Now it is closely linked to the largest city of Bulgaria – Sofia.

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