Lonely Planet Writer

Bulgaria hopes to attract visitors with vampire funeral trail

Bulgaria  might soon rival its neighbour Romania when it comes to vampire tourism. Romania  has long been a popular destination for the fans of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, who visit the famous Bran Castle in Transylvania   that may have once housed Vlad Ţepeş (aka Dracula). But Bulgaria’s tourism officials are now hoping to promote this country’s sites that could be associated with so-called vampire funerals.

Ancient Thracian site of Perperikon.
Ancient Thracian site of Perperikon. Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis / CC BY 2.0

According to Balkan Insight, Bulgaria’s Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova recently announced plans to promote the Roman archaeological site of Deultum, near the Black Sea Coast, where 17 skeletons of adolescents were discovered in 2004 nailed to their coffins. This pagan practice, which dates from the 4th century, was meant to prevent the dead from rising from their graves like vampires because of the belief that the souls of evil people remained in their bodies after their death. The officials have now proposed exhibiting these remains of what could be called the world’s largest vampire funeral in a big glass sarcophagus.

Sozopol. Image by Stanislav Trifonov / CC BY 2.0

There have been similar archaeological findings across Bulgaria. Another town which could claim vampire connections is Sozopol (once called Apollonia), a popular resort on the Black Sea Coast with an attractive old town. In 2012 and 2013, two 700-year-old skeletons stabbed through the chest with an iron stake were discovered here, and nicknamed ‘the twin vampires of Sozopol’. Another was discovered in 2014 at the ancient Thracian site of Perperikon in the south of the country, close to the Greek border. Sozopol’s mayor is reportedly planning to set up a vampire trail between Sozopol and the Transylvanian town of Sighişoara.