The 800-year-old skeleton found in Bulgaria stabbed through the chest with iron rod.

People Practiced Anti-Vampire Rituals in Bulgaria Until Three Decades Ago

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Thanks to Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror novel Dracula, many people associate vampires with the region of Transylvania in Romania. However, it was only around 25 years ago that anti-vampire rituals stopped being practiced in Bulgaria. These rituals have been going on since at least the 13th century.

In Bulgaria’s folklore beliefs, it was said that ‘bad people’ could turn into vampires after they died if they weren’t stabbed in the chest with an iron or wooden rod before being buried. That rod would also be a way to pin the individuals into their graves so they couldn’t terrorize the living at midnight.

Illustration of a vampire.

Illustration of a vampire. (

Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov said “We are not medieval people to believe in vampires but in the past people believed that they existed and conducted ceremonies to prevent the dead from turning into these devilish creatures.”

Ovcharov, who is sometimes called “Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones”, also said that there was a person specially chosen to stab dead bodies with stakes in some Bulgarian villages until as recently as 25-30 years ago.

Vampire Killing Kit circa 1840.

Vampire Killing Kit circa 1840. (Josh Berglund/ CC BY 2.0 )

More than 100 “vampire-treated” people have been discovered in Bulgaria. All of them were men and prominent citizens. One example of a “vampire” skeleton was located in the coastal town of Sozopol in 2012 and another was found on Bulgaria's Perperikon , a 7,000-year-old sacred site located deep in the Rhodope Mountains.

Anti-vampire rituals were practiced in Serbia and other Balkan countries as well. “Vampire” burial sites were discovered in Poland too. Although the majority of people say vampires are based on superstition and folklore, a minority still claims vampires exist.

A vampire.

A vampire. ( Public Domain )

Top Image: The 800-year-old skeleton found in Bulgaria stabbed through the chest with iron rod. Source: CC BY SA 3.0

By April Holloway


BlueBard's picture

It’s a pity they didn’t find out exactly what type of Vampire Bulgaria believed in. I remember there are quite a few variations on vampires, especially in Slavic.

The ones in Bulgaria were usually souls who were blocked form ‘moving on’ and instead returned as vampires. But they were also very interested in having intercourse with their ladies. Women in particular were plagued by raunchy vampires, who thirsted not for blood but a good tumble in the hay.

In the Slavic tradition it’s possible to become a sort ‘half-vampire’ or Dhampir, which will give you the ability to hunt vampires later in life. 

In any case, good article, thanks for sharing! :D

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