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(vär`nä), city (1993 pop. 307,200), E Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. It is a major port and an industrial center. Manufactures include ships and boats, chemicals, electrical equipment, and textiles. Varna is also an international summer resort. Significant artifacts discovered near Varna have been dated to second half of the 5th millennium B.C., but the city itself was founded in 580 B.C. as the Greek colony of Odessus and passed to the Roman Empire in the 1st cent. A.D. The Bulgarians defeated Byzantine emperor Constantine IV at Varna in 679. The city passed to the second Bulgarian kingdom in 1201, was captured by the Turks in 1391, and became an active seaport under their rule. In 1444 the Turks under Murad II won a decisive victory over Crusader forces led by Ladislaus III of Poland and Hungary, who was killed. The battle of Varna was the last major attempt by Christian Europe to stem the Ottoman tide. Varna was (1854) the chief naval base of the British and French forces in the Crimean War. The city was liberated from Turkish rule in 1878 and ceded to newly independent Bulgaria. It now has a university (founded 1920), a polytechnic institute, a naval academy, a medical college, and an archaeological museum as well as the ruins of a 5th-century basilica and a 6th-century Byzantine fortress. From 1949 to 1956 the city was named Stalin.
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Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and major port in Bulgaria at the heart of the Gulf of Varna on the Black Sea. The city is the administrative center of Varna District. Its population of 200,000 (1970) makes it the third largest city in the country. The city was founded in the sixth century B.C. by Greek colonizers and was named Odessos. It became a Bulgarian city in the seventh century A.D. and has been called Varna since that time.

Varna is an important economic center whose activity is closely linked with navigation and foreign trade. It is an international transportation junction. Approximately half of the water-borne cargo turnover of the country passes through Varna. The port’s functions facilitated the development of industry, primarily shipbuilding and repair (more than one-half of the people employed in municipal industries work at the G. Dimitrov Varna Shipbuilding Plant), other branches of machine building (instruments, ship’s engines, and so on), textile manufacture, and the food industry (meat, canned goods, and wine-making). There is a steam power plant with a capacity of630,000 kilowatts. There is also fishing. Varna has institutes of the national economy, electrical engineering, and medicine; a higher naval school; and the Research Institute of Oceanography and the Fishing Industry. There are museums of folk art, of the national renaissance, of the revolutionary movement, of marine and naval affairs, and of archaeology, as well as an art gallery and aquarium. There is an opera and a dramatic theater.

Varna, with its geometric planning, has preserved remains of the ancient and early Byzantine city (the Roman Tower, public baths, and administration buildings), as well as dwellings from the time of the Turkish conquest. The city is undertaking extensive construction of dwellings and cultural and welfare facilities.

Near Varna are the cliff monastery of Aladzha, dating from the Turkish conquest, and such international health resort complexes as Friendship (under construction since 1955; architect K. Nikolov and others), Golden Sands (from the second half of the 1950’s; architect G. Ganev and others), and Albena.

On Nov. 10, 1444, a battle took place near Varna between the Turkish forces of Murad II (40,000 troops) and the united European army (approximately 10,000 Hungarians, Poles, Wallachians, and European knights), led by the Polish king Ladislas III and the Hungarian voevoda János Hunyadi. In 1443 the allies, with the Serbs, occupied Sofia, and the Turks were forced to conclude the Peace of Szeged and to restore the independence of Serbia and Albania. Taking advantage of the absence of Sultan Murad II and counting on the help of the Roman pope and Venice, Ladislas undertook a new campaign in 1444 with the goal of liberating Bulgaria; he took Varna. Murad returned from the Near East, approached Varna, and defeated the allied troops; Ladislas fell in battle, and Hunyadi fled to Hungary. The defeat of the allies decided the outcome of the struggle in the Balkans in favor of Turkey.

During the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, Varna was of great strategic significance as a port and a fortress protecting the shortest route to Constantinople; it was repeatedly besieged by Russian troops (in 1773, 1810, and 1828). The siege of 1828 was particularly serious; it ended with the taking of Varna on September 29, but at the cost of many lives.


Borisov, A. D. Vazhneishie kurorty sotsialisticheskikh stran Evropy. Moscow, 1967.
Varna: Putevoditel’. Sofia, 1960.



(Sanskrit, literally, quality, color, category), a term designating the four basic estates in ancient India—that is, the Brahmans, the priests; the Kshatriyas, the warriors; the Vaisyas, the rank and file tribesmen; and the Sudras, the slaves of the community. The first three varna appeared with the origin of social inequality; the fourth varna appeared later during the period of the development of a slaveholding society and, in contrast to the other three varna, was considered to be without full rights and base. Birth determined the varna to which a person would belong. The members of the first three varna underwent in their childhood a ritual of initiation, which was considered to be a second birth. They were therefore called “twice born.” Marriage between members of different varna was prohibited. In the class society of ancient India the varna system was widely used as ideological justification for the social differences. The process of transformation of the varna system into the caste system began approximately in the middle of the first millennium B.C. Division into castes became of central importance during the Middle Ages.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port in NE Bulgaria, on the Black Sea: founded by Greeks in the 6th century bc; under the Ottoman Turks (1391--1878). Pop.: 340 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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