The square in front of the Museum complex in Malko Tarnovo town
Strandzha is a mountain possessing a millennium history, preserved the traces of several civilizations in it. On the border of two continents from the most ancient antiquity it is cultural influenced by the developed civilizations from Asia Minor and the Near East.
During the early iron epoch (XII-VI century B.C.) the local population confessed the religious cults on an open wide, often amidst the rocks. In the base of these beliefs is the honoring to the sun god, deep-seated in the Thracians during the Bronze epoch still. The Thracians believed also in the divine essence of the rock, a symbol to the male beginning in the Universe and of the cave as an expression of the female beginning by which amalgamation the world came into existence. Till nowadays this belief is preserved in the region of Malko Tarnovo town – in the preserved rock sanctuaries, dolmens, and altars, in the archaic folklore customs. Even in the beginning of Christianity some of these sanctuaries are turned into chapels and now are honored as places for search of healing and purifying.
One of the most essential peculiarities in the region is the presence of megalith culture ('megalith' – in Greek means "a big rock"). The stone tombs from Thracian times known as dolmens are spread around the mountain, built up entirely by large stone slabs (3-3.5 m). The Strandzha dolmens have been built up in the period XII-VII B.C. After this period the Thracians stopped to build dolmens but the tombs from the next centuries protected the basic principles of the megalith’s architecture.
Discovered tombs in Mishkova niva area and Voditsata around Malko Tarnovo town, Tumbite south to the village of Zvezdets are an example about the preserved megalith character of the kind until II-III century A.D. The Thracians long ago stopped to build dolmens but continued to bury the dead in dolmen like tombs rectangular by shape and built up by large stone slabs. Discovered around the villages of Zabernovo and Evrenozovo dolmens’ complexes continue to become “the towns of dead” during the Hellenic and Roman epochs.
The locals believe in the dolmens have lived dragons, that’s why are called “dragons’ holes” and “dragons’ houses”. The notion about the dragon in Strandzha region is anthropomorphous. The dragon is a very young man who could be identified only by the wings under the armpits if he takes off his shirt. Here in this region are fixed the songs about the steal of a maiden by the dragon and is documented the epic song about the dragon and St. Marina being stolen by him. It is not a love steal as it is said in the song. Marina serves the guests of the dragon; the image of a priestess is fixed. The name of the dragon is Persian and the root ‘per’ means god, rock, and stone.
In the region of Strandzha are preserved the most ancient type temples and altars such as before the appearance of the stone architecture in Hellas and by the formation of the towns, started the building of the stone temples. Before that they have been wooden and with open wide altars. Actually till nowadays could be seen such type of constructions – wooden altars orientated to the four directions of the world. They are built up near holy springs; holy curable springs usually over the water which runs out from the spring or near to it. The construction has a rectangular platform which stays above the ground upon four columns or it is a shelf on two wooden columns. As a rule on the south side of the platform is made shelf on which are put the icons, glued burning candles, and are arranged endowed breads and pieces of cloth. Because the icons have a handles in order to be standing they are called ‘tailed’.