Shoumen is a city in the northeastern part of Bulgaria, capital of Shoumen Province. From 1950-1965 it was called Kolarovgrad. The city has a population of 103,).
The city lies 80 km west of Varna and is built among a cluster of hills, northern outliers of the eastern Balkans, which curve round it on the west and north in the shape of a horse-shoe. A rugged ravine intersects the ground longitudinally within the horse-shoe ridge. From Shoumen roads radiate northwards to the Danubian cities of Rousse and Silistra and to Dobrudzha, southwards to the passes of the Balkan, and eastwards to Varna and Balchik. Shumen has, therefore, been one of the most important military positions in the Balkan Peninsula.
The city of Shoumen was founded 3200 years ago. During ancient times the city was cradle on the rich spirit and significant culture - Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians. In close proximity to Shumen are the first two capitals of the Bulgarian nation - Pliska and Veliki Preslav and the religious center Madara. Special active culture and educational activities develop during the golden age of Bulgaria when the city is called Simeonis. There are two different stories regarding the name of the city Shoumen. The first is that the name descends from the name of Tsar Simeon Veliki. The second is that it descends from shuma, or foliage in Bulgarian because of the many forests. From its finding until the 15th century, the city was situated in the region of the Shumen fortress which explains the well-made complex of public and culture buildings.
After the crusades march of Vladislav Varnenchik during 1444, Shoumen was destroyed by the Turkish and moved to the present place at the foot of Ilchov Skat. Shoumen was one of the most active centers of the Bulgarian Renaissance. On the 11th of May, 1813, the city follows the first in Bulgaria celebration of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius and the first theatrical production.
In 1828, the first school for girls and in 1856 the first class school and the first cultural community center are established here. In 1846, the first schools amateur groups are founded. The first Bulgarian symphony orchestra is founded in Shoumen in 1850.
The Madara Horseman, a World Heritage Site, is an ancient (710 AD) monument usually attributed to the Bulgar culture, and lies some 20 km from Shoumen.
Education and culture
In the area of education and culture, Shoumen upholds its position as a leading city. Helped along the path by donors and with some help from the state it has created a wide network of schools for every degree. The city is among the innovators in educational studies in Bulgaria - here there are organizations in the field of educational and later a school and institute for the study of education.
In the city there are several professional cultural institutions - a dramatic theatre, philharmonics, a large library, several cultural centers, art galleries and a rich historical museum with contemporary exhibitions. The museum are complementary ranging from four memorial house-museums and an archeological museum to the Shoumen fortress.
Regional History Museum
The Regional Museum of History is preserving over 150 000 museum pieces in eight halls. The exposition accounts for the rich history of the region from antiquity to the end of the 19th century. The museum posesses a rich collection of icons, coins, stamps and treasures, as well as Thracian tombs from the 4th century.
Places to see
Shoumen boasts the Monument to 1300 Years of Bulgaria, regarded the only monument in the world to depict the history of a whole country from its creation to the present day. Every year, new scenes are added in relation to the most important moments of Bulgarian history.
The religious buildings in the city include the Eastern Orthodox Holy Three Saints Cathedral and Holy Ascension Basilica, as well as the Tombul Mosque, the largest mosque in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans, serving Shoumen and the region's Muslim minority.
The Shoumen Fortress, partially restored after being destroyed by the Ottomans in the past, is an important historical monument of the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It is located not far from the city on the Shoumen Plateau.