A Brief History of Bulgaria's Cyrillic Script

Cyrillic script
Cyrillic script | © young shanahan/Flickr
Maria Angelova

You may have seen those strange letters that look half-Latin half-Greek and are used in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and other countries. This is the Cyrillic alphabet and you may be surprised to know that Bulgarians invented it back in the 9th century. Here’s a short version of the long story.

Why was the Cyrillic script invented?

In 9th century, Bulgaria and other countries in Europe who used to worship pagan deities had to make a choice. Become Christians by either becoming a Roman Catholic or joining the Byzantine Orthodox church. Both religions wanted to gain new worshippers as that meant more political control. The Byzantine Empire had a clever idea – to create a new script that will help the new Christians to read religious books in their own language. In just a few years, it turned out to be the better strategy.

A sign in Cyrillic

Who created the Cyrillic script?

A few years later, Kliment together with a few more of the brothers’ students were chased away from Great Moravia as the Roman Catholic church got its influence back. The Bulgarian ruler Boris I welcomed them in Bulgaria. Education and religion were important during his rule. Just a few years previously he had proclaimed Orthodox Christianity an official religion, seeing it as the only way to unite all the tribes in Bulgaria. Additionally, every tribe had its own way of writing, while some didn’t have any script at all. Cyrillic was an excellent unifier.

Cyril, Methodius, Kliment and four more of the people who worked to spread the script among the Slavic countries were proclaimed saints. Now every year, on May 24, Bulgarians have a national holiday celebrating the invention of their script.

Who writes in Cyrillic letters today?

Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Macedonia, Serbia, Mongolia ( although with some variations depending on the country).

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article