Founded in the early Middle Ages as a fortress and a settlement, the town was given the name of Shoumen by the end of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1393).
There are three interesting monuments of architecture dating back to the Middle Ages:
- the Clock Tower (1742) is a stone prism with a built-in fountain;
- the famous Tomboul Mosque (1745) is the biggest and most beautiful mosque in Bulgaria and second largest on the Balkan peninsula;
- the original Kourshoum Cheshma (Bullet fountain), public fountain built in 1769, located in the central part of the town. The fountain's original name comes from the lead tiles that cover it.
Shoumen and the lands around preserve unique cultural monuments from ancient times, when the region was inhabited by Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians. These historic landmarks are evidence of the important role of the town during the 13-century-long history of the Bulgarian state.
The Regional Museum of History (1857) with over 15,000 exhibits features Prehistory, Antiquity, Middle Ages, Revival Christian culture, Treasure hall.
Remnants of Thracian, Roman and Mediaeval settlements at only 3 km away from the centre of Shoumen. The fortress history is revealed in the exhibition of the specialized museum nearby.
Built from early Antiquity to late Middle Ages, the Shoumen fortress has lasted for more than 3,200 years. Thracians, Romans, Byzantines and Bulgarians raised their strongholds there. It has always been among the largest and strongest fortresses in Bulgaria.
Founders of the Bulgarian State Monument
The unique vast composition symbolises the birth and rise of the Bulgarian spirit, a psalm of praise to the founding and prosperity of the First Bulgarian Kingdom (7th - 10th centuries).
The Holy Ascension basilica (1829)
The mural paintings date from 933. Preserved are valuable books, gold fabric shroud with pearls from 1776, as well as the icon 'Sts Cyril and Methodius'.
The Holy Three Saints cathedral (1857).
The Pancho Vladigerov museum-house commemorates Bulgaria's most renowned composer and pianist. The house is built in the National Revival style.
The region of Shoumen boasts several monuments of culture of international importance - the historic cities of Pliska, Great Preslav and Madara.
Madara Horseman Rock Relief
At only 15 km to the east of Shoumen, lying midway between the first two Bulgarian capitals - Pliska and Great Preslav, Madara National Historical & Archaeological Reserve is one of the most visited tourist places in Bulgaria. The reserve gained the name of Bulgarian Troy for its thousands of archaeological monuments.
Madara reserve is so popular due to the famous 'Madara horseman' rock relief - the only of its kind in Europe. Listed in UNESCO's World Heritage since 1979, the unique masterpiece is one of the most significant monuments of the official old Bulgarian art.
To commemorate the fact that khan Tervel entered Constantinople in 705 and was proclamed Caeser, he had the huge figure of a horsman with an inscription carved on the face of the cliff.
The pre-historic cult figures and ritual tiles devoted to Zews, Hercules, Dionysus, Kibela, the Three Nymphs, Heros - the Thracian horseman, and others, are an evidence that since pre-historic and Thracian times until late Antiquity, the rock shelters and the springs below them have served as temples for tribes and peoples living in the area.