The Madara Rider is a rock bas-relief in the Shumen plateau. It depicts the figure of a horseman holding a spear. It has been stabbed in a lion with a snake in its mouth. The images of a dog and an eagle can be recognized next to the horseman.
This bas-relief is approximately 23 meters above the ground on a vertical rock. This is a real-scale image and the horseman is approximately 2,5 meters high. The whole composition has an approximate width of more than 3 meters.
The archeological researches show that the bas-relief was made in the 7th century. It is considered that the proto-Bulgarians did it to show the greatness of the Bulgarian country. This is why the Madara Rider is a very popular destination in Bulgaria and a symbol of national pride. It tells the history of the Bulgarian ancestors and has a great historic importance. The Madara Rider has been declared by UNESCO as a monument of world cultural heritage and by the Bulgarian Tourist Union as one of the 100 national tourist sites.
The medieval purpose of this bas-relief is yet unknown and there are a few theories. According to one of them, it is an image of Khan Tervel who was the second ruler of the Bulgarian Kingdom. Tervel’s rule began immediately after the death of his father – Asparuh – the establisher of Bulgaria.
Tervel was a really successful ruler and maybe this motivated the proto-Bulgarians to create this rock bas-relief.
Another theory says that the horseman was a part of a big religious complex, created by khan Omurtag. These statements are trustful because a few figurines of deities and other ritual objects have been found near the bas-relief.
No matter why the Madara Rider was created, it is nowadays a symbol of the Bulgarian state. So, if you really want to feel the spirit of Bulgaria, you must visit this place. And do not forget your camera – this is a memorable place.
You will find the Madara Rider in the National Historical-archeological Reserve 'Madara' which is located 17 km northeast from Shumen City and 2 km away from Madara village.