Bulgaria’s Burgas to Offer 3D Projections in Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis Bath of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent

A preview of the museum inside the restored bath of Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent as part of the ancient and medieval Aquae Calidae - Thermopolis Archaeological Preserve in Bulgaria's Burgas. Photo: Burgas Municipality

A preview of the museum (to be unveiled in summer 2015)  inside the restored bath of Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent as part of the ancient and medieval Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis Archaeological Preserve in Bulgaria’s Burgas. Photo: Burgas Municipality

The municipal authorities of Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Burgas plans to offer 3D projections inside the recently restored bath of Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566 AD), which will be opened for tourists as part of the Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis Archaeological Preserve.

Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis (meaning “hot waters” in Latin) has been famous as a “spa resort” since ancient times because of its mineral springs, and was visited by ancient and medieval rulers including Macedon Kings, Bulgarian Khans, Byzantine and Latin Emperors, and Ottoman Sultans.

Burgas Municipality has announced a tender for acquiring the necessary 3D mapping equipment.

Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent’s bath at the ancient and medieval city of Aquae Calidae – Thermpolis is expected to welcome its first tourists in the summer of 2015.

The originally Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman thermae, also used by the rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD), were destroyed in the wars between the crusaders’ Latin Empire (1204-1261 AD) and the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD).

After these clashes the city of Thermopolis never recovered but the mineral baths themselves were rebuilt later and used by Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent in 1562.

Burgas Municipality has decided to utilize the bath of the Turkish sultan as one of the elements of the tourist attraction to be created after the excavation, conservation, and restoration of the ancient-medieval Archaeological Preserve Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis because the bath has been found to be preserved in a good condition.

After its restoration, the bath of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent will be turned into a museum, and will be exhibited with its original look. Its inside is covered with marble and typical Oriental ceramics, and the added lighting further will enhance further the tourists’ experience, Burgas Municipality says.

In the sultan bath-turned-museum, visitors will be able to watch a 3D mapping projection of a 25-minute film telling the story of Aquae Calidae – Thermpolis from the time of the Ancient Thracians until the time of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I.

A preview of the museum inside the restored bath of Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent as part of the ancient and medieval Aquae Calidae - Thermopolis Archaeological Preserve in Bulgaria's Burgas. Photo: Burgas Municipality

A preview of the museum inside the restored bath of Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent as part of the ancient and medieval Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis Archaeological Preserve in Bulgaria’s Burgas. Photo: Burgas Municipality

Background Infonotes:

The originally Ancient Thracian city of Aquae Calidae (meaning “hot waters” in Latin) is an archaeological site located on the territory of Bulgaria’s Black Sea port city of Burgas, on the site of today’s Burgas quarters of Vetren and Banevo. It is proven that Aquae Calidae – known in the Middle Ages as Thermopolis or Therma – was visited by important ancient and medieval rulers such as Philip II of Macedon (r. 359-336 BC), Byzantine Emperors Justinian I (r. 527-565 AD) the Great and Constantine IV the Bearded (668-685 AD), Bulgarian Khan (or Kanas) Tervel (r. 700-718/721), and Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566 AD). Archaeological excavations have found that the Aquae Calidae mineral baths were used as early as the Neolithic Age, with three prehistoric settlements being located there in the 6th-5th millennium BC.

The Ancient Thracians settled near the mineral waters in the middle of the 1st millennium BC, turning the major spring into the revered ancient “Sanctuary of the Three Nymphs” by the middle of the 1st century AD when the Roman Empire was wrapping up the conquest of Ancient Thrace. The earliest written testimony about the ancient spa resort Aquae Calidae dates back to the 4th century BC when Philip II of Macedon went there. The name b comes from the name of a Roman road station near the mineral springs which was erected along the major Roman road Via Pontica running along the Western coast of the Black Sea. The Sanctuary of the Three Nymphs was revered in Roman times. The Roman baths at Aquae Calidae were rebuilt and expanded in the early years of the Byzantine Empire – the 4th-5th century, with fortress walls constructed during the reign of Emperor Justinian I the Great.

In the Middle Ages, Aquae Calidae became known as Therma or Thermopolis (“warm city” in Greek). In 708 AD, Khan (or Kanas) Tervel, ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire, defeated the army of Byzantine Emperor Justianian II (r. 685-695 and 705-711 AD) in the first Battle of Anchialos close to Thermopolis, conquering the ancient and medieval “spa resort” for Bulgaria. Another interesting episode from the history of Thermopolis has to do with the so called Latin Empire established when the knights from the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople. After Tsar Kaloyan (r. 1197-1207 AD) of the Second Bulgarian Empire defeated the crusaders in the Battle of Adrianople in 1205 and captured Latin Emperor Baldwin of Flanders (also Baldwin I of Constantinople), the next year the Latin Emperor’s brother, Henry of Flanders, marched against Bulgaria conquering Thermopolis, looting the city and burning it to the ground. The city of Thermopolis never recovered even though the mineral baths themselves were rebuilt later and used by Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent in 1562. In modern-day Bulgaria, in the 20th century the town near the mineral baths was known as Banevo until the 1980s when it was renamed to Burgas Mineral Baths; it became part of the city of Burgas in 2009.

Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis was first excavated in 1910 by renowned but controversial Bulgarian archaeologist Bogdan FIlov (known as Bulgaria’s pro-German Prime Minister during World War II). The contemporary excavations were started in 2008 by Senior Fellow Tsonya Drazheva and Ass. Prof. Dimcho Momchilov. In 2011, the ancient and medieval city was formally declared “The Aquae Calidae – Thermopolis Archaeological Preserve”.

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