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Villa Armira (Second Half of the 1st Century AD)

100 National Tourist Sites

Ancient villa “Armira” is the richest private palace from the Roman era, discovered in today’s Bulgarian lands. It was built in the second half of the 1st century AD. by a prominent Thracian aristocrat as the center of a large landed estate.

Villa “Armira” is a unique example of Roman provincial architecture and art in the Balkans with world significance. Its plan scheme, lavish marble decoration and original floor mosaics (over 400 square meters and almost 3000 marble fragments) make it the richest private palace discovered on our lands since the beginning of the millennium. The villa is the only one in which all known varieties of the swastika, an ancient Sanskrit symbol of happiness and good luck, have been found.

The mosaic – the work of skilled mosaic masters who sculpted this perfect mosaic carpet with fine black, white and colored stones is extremely valuable, as it depicts the portraits of the owner from the first half of the 2nd century AD and his young children – a boy and a girl, which are the only portrait images left from the Roman era in the territory of today’s Bulgarian lands. Interesting plot scenes with characters from Greek mythology belong to this mosaic carpet: “Apollo”, “Artemis”, “Seated Pan”, “Satyr”, etc. Of special interest is the later mosaic from the triclinium with an image of Medusa the Gorgon – a symbol that is repeated many times in the decoration of the villa. The impressive two-storey building extends over an area of 2132 sq.m – with a panoramic terrace and many rooms (bedrooms, reception hall, banquet hall, guest rooms, women’s work rooms, bathroom, etc.).

There were 22 rooms on the first floor alone, enclosing in the shape of the letter “P” a huge pool with dimensions of 11×7 m. For its almost four centuries of existence, the ancient villa “Armira” was rebuilt and repaired many times. At the beginning of the 3rd century, it was expanded to the east with a spacious guest hall (triclinium) and service rooms attached to it. In part of the building there was a Roman-type heating system (hypocaust), traces of which are still visible today. Already in the first half of the 2nd century, a studio for the artistic processing of the sparkling white marble quarried in the vicinity was created next to Villa “Armira”, and craftsmen from the city of Aphrodisia in Asia Minor, known for the largest during the Roman era, were invited to work here sculptural school in the world. Thus, the villa becomes a real palace from the Roman Empire. The entire first floor was lined with perfectly crafted marble slabs and panels, covering the walls of the corridors and all the representative rooms from floor to ceiling, as well as the pool itself. The complex pattern of the cladding around the pool repeats the colonnades of the ancient rich buildings and the frescoes of the early Roman era.

After more than 300 years of prosperity in the second half of the 4th century, Villa “Armira” was burned and looted. Its ruins were collapsed by a devastating earthquake at the end of the 4th century AD.

At the present time, the ancient villa “Armira” is an architectural monument of world importance, which is included in the list of “One Hundred National Tourist Sites of Bulgaria”. ” – Assoc. Ph.D. Gergana Kabakchieva – head of the ancient villa “Armira” project. “Tourists and guests of the city can remain fascinated by what they will see here, a rich natural, historical and cultural heritage in one place. I am happy that we had the unique chance to include Villa “Armira” in the monuments of world importance of the movement – “100 national tourist sites” of the Bulgarian Tourist Union”, said the mayor of the Municipality of Ivaylovgrad, Mrs. Diana Ovcharova.

Work time:
Opening hours:
Every day from 09:00 to 17:00
Entrance fees:
– BGN 10.00 per person; – for a talk by a tourist guide at an object – BGN 10.00 – groups up to 10 people – group from 11 to 30 people – BGN 20.00 Free visits: – every last Thursday of the month; – for children under 7 years old;
– children from social homes;
– Disabled. Discounts: – for a group of more than 30 people – 10% discount on the total amount of entrance tickets. Photography fee: – with a camera – BGN 5.00; – with video camera – BGN 10.00
Contact phone: 03661/60-26; 0882 29 64 10

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