Madara Rider (Madara Horseman) is the undisputed symbol of the Bulgarian people, history and culture, according to a poll conducted across the country. After this vote it was decided that the effigy of the Madara Rider will be carved on the first Bulgarian Euro coin.
The historical monument of the Madara Rider is a relief which is carved into a cliff. The height of the stone figure is about 23 meters from the base of the rock. This most significant Bulgarian symbol is located in northeastern Bulgaria, about 20 kilometers from the town of Shumen, near the village of Madara.
Very close to the Madara Rider are the first two Bulgarian capitals - Pliska and Preslav. Carved in stone the figure is considered to be apart of a various large ancient archeological site, which includes various items with religious, cultural and military use.
On the left side of the Madara Rider there are very steep stairs which leads you 431 meters up to the Madara plateau. Around the figure of the rider, clearly visible are the carved inscriptions in Greek, which give important information on historical events. According to various posts of specialist historians and archaeologists, the inscriptions are related to the founders of the Bulgarian nation - Asparuh, Krum and Omurtag.
The relief of Madara Rider is a fight scene between the rider and an eagle which flew over the rider. Next to them is a figure of a jumping dog that follows the rider who triumphed the lion with his spear. Overall Madara Rider is a symbol of the power of the First Bulgarian Empire. Experts say that it is most likely that Madara Rider was carved sometime in the 8th century and the rider was Khan Tervel, who lived between 701 and 721.
According to two official versions that describe what is depicted on this historic sanctuary in Bulgaria, the relief recreates the hunting scene in which the Bulgarian ruler kills a lion with his spear and whom is followed by his faithful dog.
The second hypothesis explains that the rider is associated with Khan Tervel, who defeated the Byzantines which is depicted symbolically by the lion and the dog. However, there are more posts that suggests, the Madara Rider relief is more than a depicted hunting scene. They take this information mostly from the unusual facts, obe being, that the lion has a raised tail, which means that it was not killed.
On a closer look at the animal under the rider you will see it does not look like a lion, as also once claimed. The lion has a distinctive mane and is significantly larger. The illustrated animal is a tiger or Leopard - the name by which ancient Bulgarians have called this animal.
In his front paws the ‘lion’ is holding a snake that is quite eroded, but is still distinct. It is a symbol of the Year of the Snake. The historical monument of Madara Rider was of world heritage by UNESCO in 1979 to 29 June 2008 and is also one of 100 national tourist sites.