We first visited the village of Mezek exactly three years ago, during a wonderful trip to the Eastern Rhodopes. Even then, I was struck by both the Thracian domed tomb and the fortress - two extremely interesting cultural and historical sites that have become a symbol of the village.
At the beginning of May we visited them again, again in that order. And again I was amazed. I knew what I was going to see, but on this second visit I was particularly interested - shortly before we went I had read new material for both sites. I am sure that if I go to these places for the third time, I will still treat them with interest and respect.
Thracian domed tomb
The tomb in the village of Mezek is one of the most representative Thracian royal tombs in our country. It was first used as a tomb and later as a temple. An interesting fact is that the temperature in the tomb is constant: about 18-19 degrees.
The tomb is located at the beginning of the village of Mezek. Shortly after entering the village, it should turn left. There is a sign board. The mound below which the tomb is located is called "Maltepe", which in Turkish means "treasure mound". Why?
The tomb was discovered by chance in the 1931 year, and shortly after its opening, archaeological excavations began under the direction of Prof. Dr. Bogdan Filov and Dr. Ivan Velikov. It is a curious fact that the tomb of the tomb - "Maltepe" - became known years earlier. In the 1908 year, a bronze sculpture of natural growth boar was discovered in its upper embankment. Discoverers are locals. At that time, the village of Mezek was located within Turkey, although its population was Bulgarian. For this reason, the valuable find - the bronze boar - is now part of the exhibition of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The land of the village of Mezek became officially Bulgarian territory during the 1912 year during the Balkan War.
A popular replica of the bronze boar can be seen today on the village square.
The Thracian tomb near the village of Mezek is one of the largest on the Balkan Peninsula. It is oriented along the East-West axis, with the entrance facing east. It consists of a corridor, two rectangular chambers and a round dome with a dome. Its total length is close to 30 meters and the corridor alone is more than 20 meters long. This type of corridor is called "dromos". It is made of relatively large and well-worked stone blocks connected to each other solely by clamps. Horace is not used.
Temples of similar architecture, a long corridor and a hive chamber, have been found in the territory of ancient Mycenae, part of present-day Greece, one of the most famous being the Atreus' Treasure, the father of the great Agamemnon. Therefore, many places on the Internet mention that the Mezek Thracian tomb is of Mycenaean type.
Based on the findings in the tomb, it was found that it was built at the end of the 4 century BC. and was used until the middle of the 3 century BC. Traces of six funerals have been found in the tomb. It is supposed that the tomb is of some mighty Thracian ruler of the Odryssian kingdom.
Although we have come here before, it was still interesting for us to touch the Thracian world. The guide's story again was very interesting. Recently, panels with elements of the Thracian lifestyle were made on a European project. These panels were located along the alley from the ticket center in front of the tomb to its very entrance. Inside the tomb, 3D holograms were hung on the walls with pictures of objects found therein. This was interesting on the one hand, they looked quite real, but on the other (in my humble opinion) they somehow didn't fit right here in the temple, on the walls. These, in my opinion, are typical museum exhibits and should be kept in a museum.
However, I must admit that these holograms do not in any way impair the splendor of the tomb.
Another interesting site to visit in the village of Mezek is the medieval fortress. And although it is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in our lands, very little is known about it.
The fortress has an important strategic position - it protected the ancient city of Adrianople (present-day Edirne) from the barbarian invasions from the north. The fortress is located on:
- 150 km from Plovdiv;
- 150 km from the White Sea;
- 150 km from the Black Sea;
- 300 km from Sofia;
- 300 km from Istanbul.
The fortress is built on a hill and the views down to Edirne and the White Sea are great. In clear weather it can be seen quite far away.
Until now, the oldest finds from the area of the fortress are from the 11 century, and most of the discovered finds are from the period 13-14 century. These facts have led archaeologists to conclude that the fort was built in the 11 century. It is also believed to have been heavily used until the fall of the area under Turkish slavery.
In general, the name of the fortress in Mezek is not very clear. Some scholars believe the name of the fortress is Neutzikon. This name is mentioned in the annals of the Byzantine chronicler Nikita Honiat. Unfortunately, this name has not been confirmed by archaeological finds.
The fortress in Mezek has the shape of an irregular quadrangle and occupies an area of about 6,5 decares. The fortress is equipped with nine rounded towers, 5 of which are on the south wall - the one that can be seen coming to the fortress. Two of the towers are located on the west wall - the one with the entrance. The other two towers are located on the north and east walls, respectively. As I mentioned above, Mezeska Fortress is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in our lands. Three of the walls - south, east and west - are almost completely preserved. The most damaged is the northern wall, which actually offers a beautiful panoramic view.
No remains of buildings were found inside the fort, which is why it is believed that the fort had purely defensive functions - it sheltered the population from the surrounding area only during the risk of an attack.
During our second visit to the fortress in Mezek we had a very interesting guide. We learned from her that the name "Mezek" comes from "copper", ie. sinor, divider, intermediate. The new thing we saw on this visit was the bunker of our time, located in the northeast corner of the fort. I have to admit that this bunker was difficult to fit into the medieval remains ... but who thought so much about building it.
On our first visit it was a little more authentic, now there are new fortification walls in places, and there are attractions to attract visitors.
It's weird! How much is left of the fortress and how little is known about it, even its name is unknown! There are no archaeological sites in the area due to lack of funds.
I hope that one day there will be money. Hopefully the treasure hunters have not ruined everything interesting by then!
How to get to the village of Mezek
The village of Mezek is located 287 kilometers from Sofia. At first glance, the distance is not small, but it takes about 2 an hour and a half to drive, as it travels only on motorways - first on the Trakia highway and then on the Maritza highway. Some time ago it was far slower to get to Mezek.
In conclusion, I strongly recommend that you take a stroll to Mezek and the surrounding area. The Thracian Dome Tomb and the Medieval Fortress are only a small part of the region's incredibly interesting sites. In the few days spent in the area, one can return hundreds and even thousands of years ago and touch the culture of our ancestors.