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Great Preslav - the 2nd Capital of Bulgaria

Great Preslav - the 2nd Capital of Bulgaria
map Great Preslav - the 2nd Capital of Bulgaria

Preslav was capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 972. The ruins of the city are situated some 20 kilometres southwest of the regional city of Shumen and are currently a National Archaelogical Reserve.

The name of Preslav is clearly of Slavic origin; apparently it was initially founded and functioned as a Slavic settlement until its fortification at the beginning of the 9th century. The close proximity to the current then Bulgarian capital of Pliska led to the fast development and expansion of Preslav during the reign of the Khans Krum and Omurtag.

The pagan revolt of the Pliska nobility led by King Vladimir in 892 was decisive for the future destiny of the city. In 893 Vladimir was dethroned and the new ruler, Simeon the Great, decided to move the Capital from the still somewhat pagan Pliska to Preslav. In the following 80 years the city developed rapidly, turning into a centre not only of Bulgarian politics and diplomacy, but also of culture, literature and the fine arts.

In view of the impressive town planning, the vital economy and the grandeur of buildings like the Round Church and the Royal Palace, Preslav was a true rival to Constantinople and Rome.

The greatest Bulgarian writers from the Old Bulgarian period worked in Preslav, among them John Exarch, Constantine of Preslav, Chernorizets Hrabar. It was probably around the Preslav Literary School that the Cyrillic alphabet developed in middle of the 9th century. The city had also large ceramic workshops which produced art ceramics, glazed tiles, as well as ceramic icons and iconostases.

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