Restoring an ancient archaeological site and increasing tourism in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The Peristera Fortress project created access for locals and tourists to ancient archaeological sites along the West Rhodope Mountain road, which connects the West Thracian plane with the Aegean region and Macedonia.

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Prior to the renovation the Peristera Fortress, a unique military fortification and church, was inaccessible. © Чигот, under a Creative Commons license Prior to the renovation the Peristera Fortress, a unique military fortification and church, was inaccessible. © Чигот, under a Creative Commons license

The ancient military fortification and Christian temple were thought to be Roman ruins until an excavation took place from 2007-2010. During this time, archaeologists concluded that the fortress was associated with Slavic tribes who entered the region during the reign of Tiberius. The fortress is made up of three rings, the third of which is still being explored.

Revealing past secrets

Through excavating the first two, archeologists were able to piece together what life was like inside the fortress walls, and have recorded multiple attacks, two burn-downs, and many repairs. They also found burial urns and a sanctuary, all of which will be of great interest to scientists, specialists, local and foreign tourists, public institutions and history students. 

The project aimed to renovate Peristera Fortress and turn it into an attractive point of interest for both local and foreign tourists. The fortress was turned into a cultural and archaeological park with an open-air museum of artifacts found during the excavation. Accessibility was improved through building two entrances, and staff was trained to accommodate tourists.

Value of history

Contrasting the ancient structure, a modern marketing plan was put in place to increase publicity and drive tourism. For starters, the Peristera Fortress was inaugurated and opened to visitors with a light and sound show in May 2014. 

In 2014, the Peristera Fortress was named the ‘Second Wonder of Bulgaria’ by the Standard Newspaper, further helping to draw tourists to the region. Overall, the project has helped the economy and helped maintain a vital part of Bulgaria’s history and culture.

The population of Peshtera municipality has and will continue benefiting from this project economically. Increased tourism helps local business, and the need for tour guides, maintenance staff, customer service staff, and specialists has helped create jobs. 


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Peristera Fortress” is EUR 1 524 003, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 179 295, from the Operational Programme “Regional Development” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.


Draft date

28/01/2016