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Veliki Preslav (Great Preslav)


Preslav is a former medieval capital situated 20 km South- West of Shumen in the Shumen Province in Bulgaria. It served as the capital of the First Bulgarian Kingdom between 893 AD and 972 AD.



Location: 20 km South-west of Shumen, Shumen Province     Map

Capital of the First Bulgarian Empire: 893- 972 AD





Description of Preslav Archaeological Site

Area of a current Preslav Archaeological Site was originally found in the late 8th or early 9th century as a small village. Its name is Slavic in origin hinting that it was a Slavic rather than Bulgarian village. During rule of khans (Bulgarian rulers) Krum and Omurtag it began to grow in size due to close proximity to a Bulgarian cpital of Pliska. Originally Preslav was predominantly a pagan city dominated by temples and shrines dedicated to numerous Slavic and Bulgarian gods. With the conversion of the Bulgarians to Eastern Orthodox Christianity in 864 under the influence of the nearby Byzantine Empire, first Chrisitian churches appeared.


Village Preslav grew in size and even became the seat of Chargobilya or Ichurgy- boil, a high ranking civil official. It was turned into a city of Veliki Preslav or Great Preslav was established in 893- 972 AD during the First Bulgarian Kingdom during reign of Prince Boris I. King Boris I met a great deal of resistance among the pagan nobility. They began an open rebellion under leadership of Prince Vladimir in 892 AD. Rebels quickly took the capital of the Bulgarian Kingdom of Pliska. King Boris had to flee to nearby Preslav that had an established Christian population and that didn't really support the rebellion.


Preslav became a center of military camp with a fortified palace and military barracks for the royal garrison. King Boris remained here and used the city as a base for military operations against the rebels. Just one year later in 893 AD Prince Vladimir was dethroned. In 893 after the Preslav Church People's Assembly the city that became known as the Council of Preslav, Preslav was declared officially as the capital. Additionally King Boris appointed Simeon the Great as his legitimate successor.


In 970 AD Kievan Prince Svetoslav I, prompted by the Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes to proclaim a war against Bulgarian Kingdom. Russian- Ukrainian prince led his Slavic/ Viking army against Preslav and promptly took it. Just a year later Byzantine army turned against Svetoslav and re- captured Preslav again. Byzantines renamed it into Yoanopol. That name remained until the 12th century. After the resumption of the Bulgarian state after the rebellion of Ivan Asen I and Theodore, Peter (1185- 87), Preslav again became a Bulgarian Fortress. It subsequently returned its original historic name.


During the Ottoman period Preslav remain inhabited, but it was a small village and most of original city fell in desrepair. Preslav diocese became independent from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1871. A year later on August 20, 1872 Archimandrite Simeon was ordained as a bishop of the Diocese Preslav.


Preslav became an important cultural center of the Medieval Bulgaria. Preslav Literary School in particular became famous for its authors and literal gems. Some of the prominent medieval writers and scientist that worked here include Naum Ohridski, Konstantin of Preslav, John Exarch, Presbyter Kozma, Todor Doktsov and many others.










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