An interactive interpretation of Bulgarian history at BALGAREVO village near the town of Kavarna.
When talking about history, I always remember “Baudolino”, one of my favourite novels by Umberto Eco, this “postmodern dreamer” who created different historical myths all leading to the same conclusion – creating history is power. Or maybe it is just a well-designed “technology” for manipulation and influencing? How many years do we spend studying history at school? How many hours did we waste only to find out at certain age that all the knowledge that had been poured into our heads was just a fantasy promoted by someone at some point… Well, if we share Winston Churchill’s thought that history is written by the victors, we can only wave our hand and leave it that way. However, when we talk about our native history, about who WE BULGARIANS are, we cannot remain indifferent to a contemporary interpretation of all we have learned so far.
So I got into the ONGAL Historical Center – a place I did not want to leave and I didn’t feel the time pass during the 45-minute visit of the audio-visual exhibition on Bulgarian history. And when I met the captivating personality of its creator Valentin Simeonov, I totally lost myself in time and space, as if they didn’t matter anymore.
Valentin impatiently expects you to ask him questions, which inevitably happens after all the things you saw and heard in the 9 halls of the historic maze. He talks about Bulgaria with great love and enthusiasm, explaining its historical role in the establishment of Europe and not only; he reveals the different points of view that turn history over with all the respective evidence and facts; he quotes the names of our historians, as well as dates and events before and after Christ from the ancient Bulgarian calendar…
And he always uses the word CIVILIZATION!
This is not by chance! I sincerely envied him for his encyclopedic knowledge!
I have always been proud of being a Bulgarian! I know I was not accidentally born here in these lands. The lands where“the found artifacts respect with their age and their unique beauty”.
“Why did you call the place ONGAL?”I ask him. He smiles and continues:
“My resources would only allow me to build a wooden facility, and when Khan Asparuh had extended the boundaries of the existing state, he had built a wooden fortification he called Ongal, so it sounded symbolic. The emphasis here is not only on the events concerning Asparuh’s arrival or the glorious battle at Ongal, this site is a historical overview that covers a vast period – from the most ancient civilization to present days.”
ONGAL turns the acquaintance with Bulgarian history into a very fascinating and interesting experience. It is not boring or flat, as History lessons might sound at school. This place must be visited by every Bulgarian. Besides the interesting historical narrative, here you have the possibility to experience the events by a fashion walk through time. You can wear armor and helmet, and you can use the swords of Bulgarian Medieval warriors. And you can get a copy of Valentin Simeonov’s book “Nine tales from Bulgarian lands” which will complete and solidify the verbal historical past of the exhibition in Balgarevo village.
ONGAL receives visitors from different nationalities: Romanians, Russians, Americans, etc. They are surprised by what they learn about Bulgaria. Some of them are respectful, others are arguing. After all, history is written by the victors :))
However, one thing is for sure: the Bulgarian artifacts will definitely rearrange and re-write both Bulgarian and world history, because they are evidence of a much older civilization that occupied these lands and they “complement world science with new facts and challenges.”
I did not want to leave this place; it had that special Bulgarian scent… Valentin went on and on, speaking passionately about our past. But he seemed bitter when he said: “This place will exist as long as I live, after that I don’t know…”
Then what? Then it became midnight of the summer of the year 7526 (5508 years before Christ and 2018 years after Christ), the year when we were created!
P.S.: ONGAL is situated on the exit of Balgarevo village, in the direction of Kaliakra cape.
The exhibition was opened in 2014. The interactive historic narrative you can listen to in the 9 mazes is translated in 7 languages.
“We offer nine narratives in the form of tales about the history of our lands, people and country, and all of this is accompanied by images. The narrator here tells the story of the Tharcians, the Bulgarians and the Bulgarian states,” explains Valentin Simeonov, and his eyes are burning with Love, the Love for Bulgaria.