THE REGIONAL MUSEUM OF HISTORY – the town of Kardzhali
The Regional Museum of History in the town of Kardzhali functions on the territory of Eastern Rhodopes, Southern Bulgaria. It was established in the year of 1965 in order to study and preserve the cultural values, all carrying the historical significance and memory of this region.
Its major fund contains about 37 000 exponents. It has registered 179 archaeological sites, 19 of which are pre-historic, 122 are ancient, while Medieval are 37 of them. 30 of the registered cultural monuments are of national significance.
Researches have been carried out on the following ones: the Pre-historic mound near the village of Sadlere, in the municipality of Momchilgrad; a Roman villa called “Armira”, which is near the town of Ivaylovgrad; a Medieval monastery complex “St. John the Precursor” in “Veselchani” residential district in the town of Kardzhali. Restoration activities will be completed this year, so tourists and worshipers will have the opportunity to visit it.
A total of 119 sites from our architectural heritage are registered. The museum is accommodated in an impressive cult building dating back to 1920, an architectural monument of culture.
The exposition was open to visitors in the year of 1987 and occupied 1800 sq. m, it was a-three-storey building. Another part of the museum is a park yard with water pools and fountains which occupy an area of 15 decares. 22 sorts of plants are planted in the yard and these plants are unique for the area of South Bulgaria.
On the first floor, nine halls in chronological sequence provide opportunity for visitors to track way of life between 4th century B.C. and Medieval times, all this being possible through evidences, photos, copies and reconstructions. Of great importance seem to be the earliest monuments from the Neolithic period: reconstruction of a Village mound from the Neolithic Period – a centre for making stone tools, a rich collection of idol plastic arts. The unique megaliths of the Thracian culture and its cult centres are presented through photos / rock tombs, sanctuaries, niches and votive tablets /. The museum may also organize visits to the very sites.
The Roman civilization has left traces by its luxurious ceramics, the bronze and gold plastic arts, as well as by the stylish marble wall decoration of the “Armira” villa near the town of Ivaylovgrad.
In the very halls of the museum, it seems as if the Medieval civilization exists though the subjects of “Fortress evidence”, “Church architecture and arts”. For the population density of the village of the region we judge also by over 150 well-known Christian necropolises that bring to light silver, bronze, copper and glass ornaments.
The most significant Medieval architectural monument is the monastery “St. John the Precursor” which is introduced by many valuable exponents in the exhibition.
On the second floor, which exists since 1993, in a total of four halls there is an exhibition that presents the nature of the Eastern Rhodopes and gives birth to the feeling of infinite harmony between the mountain and the objects created by human beings. Approximately 30 million years ago this land was under the waters of the Palaeogenic Sea. What was left by the once intensive life are only the fossils- fossils of clams, snails, sea hedgehogs and sea stars, corals and trees, and even fossils of fish. Impressive are the collections of the herbariumized floristic variety, also impressive is the abundance of herbs, as well as ore minerals, the processing activity of which is an occupation typical to local people ever since Ancient times; important to mention is also the abundance of the beautiful agates and jaspers, as well as the brilliance of the various colourful valuable minerals, quartz and calcite crystals, the amethystine cores of the rock geods. The active geological processes have “provided” the greatest amount of mineral stuffs for Bulgaria – graphite, asbestos, mica, perlite etc. Through photos it becomes possible for us to touch the inexplicable phenomena of the unique and provoking our imagination rock forms. Sculpted by the sun, wind and water, they bear the labels of myths and stories – The Stone Wedding , The Stone Mushrooms, The Elephant, The Stone Forest, The Broken mountain etc.
The fact that the region is not so far away from Istanbul has affected positively the establishment of the Bulgarian national revival art in the region. The monuments included in the exposition reveal their genesis and connection with the Late Medieval Art in these lands, they also reveal the lack of chiatus in the development of this art in the region despite the migration processes and pogroms. A series of icons, dating back to the end of the 17th and 18th century, not only reveal their brilliant quality, but also provoke evaluation of their historical context. It is obvious that they have been brought with a great respect to the late Christian churches in order to be preserved because their real value and importance has been taken into consideration. We can be sure that the “St. John the Precursor” icon belongs to the Bulgarian iconography, as a result of the fact that the icon`s inscription with the names of the founder and the stated year of painting – which is the year of 1592- as well as the style and the peculiarities of the curly-rope-type carved frame proves this. In the hall there are not only icons exhibited, but exponents dating back to the 19th century as well – woodcarving, stone and wood plastic art, metal-plastic art, church plate etc .
The exhibition of the “Ethnology” department is on the third floor. The best samples of the culture in the Eastern Rhodopes from the period of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century are all exhibited in 10 halls. Through authentic materials and restorations, there are exhibited the farming, stock-breeding, as well as the most typical occupations – the charcoal-burning, the metalworking, shoemaking, tailoring and weaving. Domestic occupations like spinning, knitting and weaving stripped materials are presented as well. The national dresses of all the ethnics living on the territory of the region are exhibited. The peculiarities of the typical Eastern Rhodope house are presented in details. The traditional national holidays and customs are presented by the ritual pieces of bread that reveal the spirit of the people living in this region.
The “Stanka Dimitrova” Art Gallery that occupies an area of 800 sq.m. exhibits works of painting, woodcut, sculpture and Christian art starting from the classics of the Bulgarian Arts School and going further to the leading Modern authors.
General and more specific discussions on high professional level are carried out in the museum and in the gallery.