Veliki Preslav (Bulgarian: Велики Преслав) is a town of about 9,000 people in northeastern Bulgaria, 20 km southwest of Shumen, the regional capital. Ancient Preslav, 2 km to the south, is the ruins of the early capital city of the medieval Bulgarian kingdom, and is a national archaeological reserve.
Formerly a village named Yeski Stambolchuk (deformed from Turkish Eski İstanbulcuk, which translates "Old Little Istanbul"), Veliki Preslav (literally "Great Preslav") was renamed upon Bulgaria's independence in 1878 in the honour of early capital city of the medieval Bulgarian kingdom, Preslav.
Perhaps the site of an earlier human settlement, Preslav was fortified and came into being as an urban centre in the early 9th century. Seeing quick growth thanks to its proximity to the then Bulgarian capital, Pliska, Preslav was made the first capital of newly Christianized Bulgaria in 893, when a pagan revolt took place in Pliska which angered pious Boris I, the first baptised king of Bulgarians.
However, it took no more than 80 years that the good luck of the city ran out; many parts of the city was no more than ruins burnt to the ground after it was occupied by the Kyivan Principality in 970 and changed hands several times between them and the Byzantines in the following year. The outer suburbs and the large monasteries built during Bulgaria's conversion to Christianity were all but abandoned, and the glorious riches which made the city a worthy capital were all taken away during the war. The central city was left somewhat spared from the misdeeds of war, and the city kept some of its earlier importance but it didn't take long before the capital of the kingdom was shifted to Skopje in what is now North Macedonia, a location much easier to defend against rowdy neighbours.
The final blow to ancient Preslav came with the Tatar raids of 1270s, when the remaining population fled the fortress and moved to found Veliki Preslav in its current location.
- Archaeological Museum (Археологически музей) (South of the town, halfway towards the fortress), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nov-Mar: daily 09:00-17:00; Apr-Oct: daily 09:00-18:00. Collection of this museum which focuses on local medieval history includes various artifacts excavated in the area, including the purported golden "Preslav Treasure", which was lost during the war with the Kievans in 970, only to be re-found in 1978. Ticket includes admission to the fortress: 6 lv (students and children 2 lv, retirees 3 lv, discounts for families available; permission for taking photos 2 lv per photo).
The telephone code for Veliki Preslav is 538, which should be prefixed with 0 when calling within Bulgaria, or +359 when calling from abroad.