The carved figure of a horseback warrior, spearing a lion while his dog trots behind, is this archaeological reserve's highlight. The Madara Horseman (Madarski Konnik), 1.5km east of Madara village, was sculpted 23m high into the cliff face during the 8th century, to commemorate the victorious Khan Tervel and the creation of the First Bulgarian Empire (681–1018). Bulgaria’s only known medieval rock carving, it’s a Unesco World Heritage site. Caves, chapels and an ecotrail are signposted within the reserve.
Follow the stone stairs to view the horseman. About 200m right of the stairs, find the 12th- to 14th-century St Panteleimon Chapel, an icon-filled cave-sanctuary. A steep uphill trail left of the stairs leads to the ruin of the 4th- to 5th-century Madara Fortress (about 20 minutes), with its uplifting views over the surrounding plains.