Bulgaria is a cradle and crossroad of ancient civilizations. Thracians, Romans, Slavs and Bulgars have left their mark in the past on the culture of Bulgaria contributing to a heritage that combines long history, fine literature and unique folklore. Bulgaria is the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, which was developed in Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools during the tenth century. More than 300 million people from different countries today use the developed version of the Cyrillic alphabet, which by 1 January 2007 with Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union become its official alphabet.
The Bulgarian, or Cyrillic, alphabet was developed at the end of the 9th century AD for the Old Bulgarian language, also known today as Church Slavonic, at the Preslav Literary School and the Ohrid Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire by St. Kliment Ohridski and St. Naum Preslavski. St. Kliment Ohridski and St. Naum Preslavski are two of the five disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Byzantine diplomats and civil servants who invented the first Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic, in 855 AD.
In 886 AD, The Glagolitic alphabet was brought to the First Bulgarian Empire by their disciples after they were chased away from the Central European kingdom of Great Moravia by the Catholic Germanic clergy. In Bulgaria, the disciples of the great Byzantine scholars, themselves Bulgarians, developed the new Bulgarian alphabet based on the Glagolitic, and allegedly called it Cyrillic in honor of their master, St. Cyril. Later Bulgarian clergymen, scholars, and missionaries spread their alphabet to other Slavic nations such as Russia and Serbia.
The Cyrillic (Bulgarian) alphabet is used today in 12 countries in Eastern Europe and Northern and Central Asia, which are Slavic countries or non-Slavic countries that have been Russian cultural influence, such as Mongolia which adopted the Cyrillic alphabet in the 1940s.
“Old Pliska” – Yard of the Cyrillic alphabet
After Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1, 2007, the Bulgarian (Cyrillic) alphabet became one of the three official alphabets of the EU, together with the Latin and Greek alphabets, a situation not unlike the Middle Ages when Europe was dominated by Latin, Greek, and Old Bulgarian, and their respective alphabets.