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Smolyan History Museum

The historical museum in Smolyan is the oldest and largest in the Middle Rhodopes. Founded in 1935 to explore, study, preserve and promote the uniqueness with its artistic value and historical heritage significance of the population inhabiting the central part of the Rhodopes.

The museum is housed in a specially constructed building, exhibition halls are located at area of 2000 square meters separated on four levels.

The idea of creating a museum was established in the 1935 on the initiative of Stoyu Shishkov, which gave the enormous sum of 50,000 gold leva for the construction of the facility in his native village Ustovo. From 1937 the Ethnographic Museum in Ustovo began its existence. In 1967 the museum was reorganized and moved to Smolyan. In 1983 the museum was established in a specially designed building located in the newly built center of Smolyan, part of the cultural complex. Three emblematic cultural institutions in the city - museum, library, gallery, are located above the pedestrian area of the amphitheater and the water cascade, a characteristic place in terms of terrain topography with dominant presence of the majestic Rhodope nature.

Today, the museum keeps in its fund more than 150 000 museum exhibits and includes objects from archeology, history, lifestyle and culture of people who inhabited the Rhodope Mountains from ancient times to nowadays. It's all interesting, but whenever you visit it, do not miss the particularly valuable artifacts such as the stone molds for casting bronze objects, weapons and ornaments, the sacred beetle of the Egyptians (scarab), Thracian helmet, bronze lamp with a stylized head of a deer and mostly take a look at the tombstones with cruciate signs at the bottom - a desperate attempt of the Mohammedanized Bulgarians to maintain links with their old faith, language and customs. Particularly interesting are the exposures of pastoral carvings, bright rugs and clothing, copper vessels, mummers costumes and masks.

The permanent exhibition entitled "Cultural and historical heritage of the Rhodopes from ancient times" is divided in two sections: Archeology, with exposure zones "Prehistory", "Trakia", "Middle Ages" and Ethnography of exhibition zones “Traditional clothing”, “Ritual props”, "Traditional Crafts", "Rhodope architecture"and "Tradition and Modernity".

The museum covers a variety of temporary exhibitions that represent wildlife in the Rhodope mountains, some of the biggest artists, inspired by the region, the medieval history of Bulgaria and others.

Since March 1, 2002 at the museum the visitors can see a representative exhibition of unique art decorations and medals of the Bulgarian awards system - royal, regency and republican issue. They are donated by Colonel Raicho Harbaliev for his native town of Smolyan. Besides all that, the museum staff will is ready for demonstration and restoration of old customs, ritual practices and traditional skills of the inhabitants of these parts.

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