The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman (Bulgarian: Мадарски конник, Madarski konnik) is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara.
The Madara Rider is depicted on the obverse of smaller Bulgarian coins (1 to 50 stotinki) issued in 1999 and 2000. A June 29, 2008, official survey on the design of
's future euro coins was won by the Madara Horseman with 25.44 percent of the votes. Bulgaria
The relief depicts a majestic horseman 23 m (75 ft) above ground level in an almost vertical 100 m (328 ft)-high cliff. The horseman, facing right, is thrusting a spear into a lion lying at his horse's feet. An eagle is flying in front of the horseman and a dog is running after him. The scene symbolically depicts a military triumph.
The monument is dated back to circa 710 AD and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. The dating means the monument was created during the rule of Bulgar Khan Tervel, and supports the thesis that it is a portrayal of the khan himself and a work of the Bulgars, a nomadic tribe of warriors which settled in northeastern Bulgaria at the end of the 7th century AD and after merging with the local Slavs gave origin to the modern Bulgarians. Other theories connect the relief with the ancient Thracians, claiming it portrays a Thracian god.
Three partially preserved texts in Medieval Greek, carved in the rock, can be found around the image of the rider. They bear important information regarding the history of
in the period. According to Professor Veselin Beshevliev and his book Protobulgarians, the oldest inscription is the work of Tervel (695-721 AD), thus the relief has also been created during his rule. The other inscriptions refer to the khans Krum (796-814 AD) and Omurtag (814-831 AD) and were most likely carved on their order. The texts of the inscriptions after Professor Veselin Beshevliev (translated from Bulgarian publication Веселин Бешевлиев, "Първобългарски надписи", Издателство на Българската академия на науките, София, 1979, стр. 94): Bulgaria
inscription I c
[...] of Bulgars [...] and came to Tervel. My uncles in
region didn't credit to the slit-nosed Emperor and returned to Kisinas [...] his one [...] through treaty the ruler Tervel gave to the Emperor [...] 5 thousand [...] the Emperor together with me won well. Thessaloniki
inscription II a and b
[...] gold coins [...] he gave [...] gold coins the ruler [...] soldiers [...] the ruler [...] the Greeks [..] what I gave to you every year, I am going to give you, because you helped me [...] every year we are going to give you and the Emperor sent to the ruler [...] and begged the ruler Kroumesis [...] the ruler [...] when distributed the gold coins [...] they began [...] gave from [...] the ruler Kroumesis gifted [...] this lake [...] you did [...] the ruler [...] broke the treaties [...] war [...] at that time [...] name [...]
[...] was fed [...] broke and from the God Omourtag ruler [...] sent [...] help me [...]