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Madara Rider

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Madara Rider
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
The Madara Rider
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii
Reference 43
UNESCO region Europe
Inscription history
Inscription 1979 (3rd Session)
A wider view of the rock with Madara Rider.

The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman (Bulgarian: Мадарски конник, Madarski konnik) is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara. The monument is dated in the very late 7th,[1] or more often very early 8th century, during the reign of Bulgar Khan Tervel.[1][2] In 1979 became enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


  • Description 1
  • Inscriptions 2
  • Recognition 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


The relief depicts a majestic horseman 23 m (75 ft) above ground level in an almost vertical 100 m (328 ft)-high cliff. The horseman, facing right, is thrusting a spear into a lion lying at his horse's feet, and on the left a dog is running after the horseman.[2]

The meaning and sybolism of the depiction is uncertain.[2] The hero-horseman is a common character of Turko-Altaic and Alanic mythology.[2] It is generally considered that the horseman represents or is related to the Bulgar deity Tangra, while Vladimir Toporov related it to the Iranian deity Mithra.[2]

Beneath the relief were found the remnants of a complex which is considered to have been a pagan shrine and a building, probably the ruler's private dwelling, where the ruler did sacral rituals related to Tangra.[2] At the site was also found a damaged inscription by Khan Omurtag which mentions the deity Tangra.[2]


Three partially preserved texts in Medieval Greek, carved in the rock, can be found around the image of the rider. They bear important information regarding the history of Bulgaria in the period. The oldest inscription is the work of Tervel (701-718 AD), thus it is considered that the relief was created during his rule or immediately after the Bulgars settled in 680-681 AD.[1] The other inscriptions refer to the Khans Krum (802-814 AD) and Omurtag (814-831 AD) who are most likely the ones who ordered the carvings.[1]

Inscription I:[1]

Justinian the emperor made a treaty [...] the Bulgars [...] and came to Tervel. My uncles at Thessaloniki did not trust the emperor with the cut-off nose and went back to the Kisiniie [...] one of his [...] The ruler Tervel made a treaty and gave to the emperor five thousand [...] with my help the emperor scored a fine victory.

Inscription II:[1]

[...] gold. He gave eighteen [...] gold the ruler [...] soldiers [...] a ruler [...] the Greeks (Byzantines) [...] what I gave to you, I will give you every year, and the emperor sent to the ruler [...] and asked the ruler Krumesis [...] the ruler [...] divided the gold [...] began [...] he gave from [...] the ruler Krumesis gave [...] that sea [...] you did [...] the ruler [...] war they tore the treaties [...] war [...] then [...] name [...]

Inscription III:[1]

[...] he was raised [...] tore and Omurtag the ruler set by god sent [...] help to me [...]

Inscription IV:[1]

Khan sybigi Omurtag, ruler from god [...] was [...] and made sacrifice to god Tangra [...] itchurgu boila [...] gold [...]


The Madara Rider is depicted on the obverse of smaller Bulgarian coins (1 to 50 stotinki) issued in 1999 and 2000.[3] A June 29, 2008, official survey on the design of Bulgaria's future euro coins was won by the Madara Horseman with 25.44 percent of the votes.[4][5][6]

Madara Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after the historic site of Madara.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h
  2. ^ a b c d e f g
  3. ^ Bulgarian National Bank. Notes and Coins in Circulation: 1999: 1 stotinka, 2 stotinki, 5 stotinki, 10 stotinki, 20 stotinki, 50 stotinki; 2000: 1 stotinka, 2 stotinki & 5 stotinki. – Retrieved on 26 March 2009.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

Further reading

  • Vesselin Beschevliev, "Les inscriptions du relief de Madara", Bsl, 16, 1955, p. 212–254 (Medieval Greek, French).
  • Vesselin Beschevliev, "Die protobulgarischen Inschriften", Berlin, 1963 (Medieval Greek, German).
  • Веселин Бешевлиев, "Първобългарски надписи", Издателство на Българската академия на науките, София, 1979 (Medieval Greek, Bulgarian).

External links

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