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Bulgaria/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

The present Culture Heritage Act (2009), which replaced the former Cultural Monuments and Museums Act (1969), introduced a new integrative concept for cultural heritage and sets up a new national system for protection, management and sustainable use. The law was adopted after years of debate and its main achievement is to recognise the responsibility of the state and society to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of Bulgaria for the benefit of its citizens and for international visitors.

The law states two main groups of monuments that are described as movable and immovable. This regulatory differentiation is due to the different modes, procedures and proponents of movable and immovable monuments of cultural protection. More details on the law and the most important debates concerning its adoption and implementation are available in  chapter 5.3.3.

The total number of immovable monuments of culture in 2006 was 39 547.

The movable monuments of culture with the greatest scientific and cultural value are included in a National Museum Stock. The stock register is kept at the "Museums, Galleries and Fine Arts" Directorate of the Ministry of Culture.

State funding sources

The Republican budget, endorsed each year by the Parliament, provides funding in the field of immovable cultural heritage preservation, allocated in line with the following scheme:

1.  ThroughthebudgetoftheMinistryofCulture

For each financial year, the Ministry of Culture devises a proposal for the benchmarking of the state subsidy funding for specific monuments and specific types of work that the Minister of Culture approves. The following criteria for selection of monuments to be included in the "State Assignment" have priority in the proposal preparation:

  • cultural heritage properties with "world" significance and with "national" significance;
  • monuments at an advanced stage of the conservation and restoration works, which can possible be concluded during the year of the funding;
  • monuments in the process of conservation and restoration works, for which interrupting the technological cycle is unacceptable;
  • monuments in decayed physical state, whose integrity is endangered; and
  • monuments whose owners together with the municipality where they are located commit to secure additional funding for different activities during the financial year.

2.  Through the budget of the Ministry of Finance, which secures credits for investigation and protection of monuments of culture that are covered by the allotted funding for the site.

3.  Throughthebudgetofthemunicipalities - subsidy for specialised activities for monuments of culture with local importance.

4.  Throughthe "ReligiousDenominations" Directorate withthe Council of Ministers.

Regional and local government funding sources

The financing of the local level activities for preservation of architectural and archaeological heritage comes from the following sources:

  • Annual Target Subsidy from the Ministry of Culture - The Minister of Culture concludes contracts with municipalities for the carrying out of clearly specified activities on certain sites included in the programme prepared in advance. The budget subsidy covers part of the expenditures under that programme (generally between 50% and 80%), and the respective municipality provides the balance;
  • Municipal budgetsadopted every year by the Municipal Councils; and
  • Private funding and sponsorsinclude the private owners of monuments, foundations, national and international NGOs, including The Foundation "А. G. Leventis", The World Monument Fund, the Headlеy Trust and The Foundation "Messerschmidt".

Tax relief

The state extends tax relief to the owners and users of immovable monuments of culture as compensation for the specific restrictions on their rights and the specific obligations that they have to assume. Building-monuments of culture are exempt from "tax on buildings" provided that they are not used for economic purposes (in compliance with Article 24 of the Local Taxes and Fees Act).

At present, tax relief and the financial incentives for protection of the cultural heritage are quite limited.

Public access to heritage

The measures for the accessibility and interpretation of heritage are directly related to its usage as a resource for development and its preservation within the framework of a collective process with a large number of participants-partners. From this point of view, the following topical questions are the subject of public debate: how to educate and raise awareness of the participants in the preservation process; how to facilitate their access to heritage; how to interpret heritage in order to improve the efficiency of its usage without causing risks to its cultural value.

In the last eight years, access to monuments has been encouraged by the European Heritage Days (1999 - "Traditional Architecture", 2000 - "Cultural Routes", 2001 - "Children, Youth and Cultural Heritage", 2002 - "Different Ethnic Communities and Religions - Common Heritage", 2003 - "Cultural Landscapes", 2004 - "Cultural Tourism", 2005 - "South-Еast Europe - Shared Heritage" and 2006 - "Heritage in the Information Society"). The European Heritage Days arouse an increasing interest, involving an increasingly wider range of participants of all age groups. These Days successfully apply the model of partnership among central and local government authorities, state and non-governmental organisations, the public and private sectors, with the participation of the media (regrettably, quite insufficient yet). Traditionally, during the European Heritage Days museums are free, and the monuments which are undergoing conservation are open to the public.

Access to heritage is still insufficiently encouraged and facilitated by tourist information systems: signs, information boards, etc. There are not enough websites and guides for cultural routes and historic settlements. Tourist information regarding privately owned cultural heritage properties is almost nonexistent. The number of specialised projects for tourist visual communication has been steadily increasing of late.

Raising awareness of young people

National policy takes into account the need to raise young people's awareness of the cultural heritage. The curricula generally include information on the monuments of culture, in connection with the subjects of history of fine art, cultural studies, archaeology, journalism and mass communication. Beyond the educational system, different formats for raising awareness of the cultural heritage properties are used: participation in the Council of Europe projects "European heritage class" and "Europe, from one street to the other", in scientific and exploration expeditions to cultural heritage sites, conducting research on different themes related to heritage etc.

Representatives of the central authorities, non-governmental organisations and experts are preparing an open network for the exchange of information and ideas, and for the improvement of the state policy in this respect, in the spirit of Recommendation No R of the Council of Europe regarding Heritage Education.

The bi-lingual (Bulgarian and English) multimedia "Children and the Cultural Heritage of South-Eastern Europe" was made in Bulgaria in 2006. The project, financed by the British Council Bulgaria and implemented by the Cultural Tourism Association in partnership with the University for Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy and the Bulgarian Committee of ICOMOS was a first attempt to present, in a contemporary IT format adapted for children, the cultural heritage of the countries in the region. The product, the "Treasure Quest" game is accessible on-line at the address-

On the occasion of the launching of the site, in Sofia a working meeting-seminar took place entitled "Heritage Pedagogy - Children and the Cultural Heritage of South-Eastern Europe". During the seminar, discussions were held on the possibilities and the prospects for associating young people to the values of heritage by way of the contemporary information technologies.

In recent years, the national movement "Bulgarian Heritage" organises the initiative "Preserve the Bulgarian Heritage" with the participation of students and pupils from all over the country who work on national archaeological sites guided by archaeologists. This initiative is implemented under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Policy on digitisation

After the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union, a comprehensive and long term policy for the development of the information society in Bulgaria and for digitisation in the field of cultural heritage was set.

In 2009, the inter-ministerial / intergovernmental working group for digitalisation of Cultural Heritage (cultural content), started in 2008, continued its work with the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, The University Library, National Historical Museum, and the Archives National Agency. Some of the work outlined is:

  • adoption of a unified definition of digitalisation;
  • proposals for establishment of a legislative and infrastructure framework;
  • adoption and promotion of European standards regarding this sphere; creating a comprehensive, precise and concrete register of all institutions, organisations, governmental and private structures committed to digitalisation;
  • preparation of a national programme for training employees and creating national centres for training and development (including curricula development for the specialised schools); and
  • creation of a specialised network for data exchange.

In November 2010, the Bulgarian article was placed on Europeana. Varna Regional Library "Pencho Slaveykov" is the sole Bulgarian participant in this project so far. This library has digitalised approximately 14 000 digital units which comprise: more than 2 000 post cards dating from the beginning of the 19th century (some in cooperation with The Renaissance Museum and The Museum of History of Varna), as well as more than 21 annual volumes / files of Varna dailies dating from the beginning of the 20th Century. The project "Pencho Slaveykov" is a result of Bulgarian participation in EuropeanaLocal, funded by eContentplus Programme of EC. More information at

Another important project - NALIS - started in June 2009. The founders of the National Academic Library and Information System Foundation (NALIS Foundation) are the Central Library of BAS (CL-BAS), the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (SU) and the American University in Bulgaria (AUB). The libraries of these institutions take active part in the NALIS Project - apart from the CL-BAS, these are the Sofia University Library (SUL) and the AUB Library (AUBL).

The NALIS Project stimulates integration of the Bulgarian academic library systems. Its main purpose is to create a shared online catalogue of the university and research libraries in Bulgaria, which, through a web portal, will allow integrated searching through the internet in these libraries, and electronic access to the bibliographical information about their stocks, electronic resources and information services.

The first stage is the construction of a library and information net between the libraries of the three participating institutions. The second stage will open the net both to all the research libraries and to those public libraries that are technologically prepared for involvement in the project.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Bulgaria

Chapter published: 02-07-2018

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