The city lies 80 kmwest of Varna andis built within a cluster of hills, northern outliers of the eastern Balkans,which curve round it on the west and north in the shape of a horse-shoe. Arugged ravine intersects the ground longitudinally within the horse-shoe ridge.From Shumen roads radiate northwards to the Danubian cities of Rousse and Silistra and toDobruja,southwards to the passes of the Balkans,and eastwards to Varna and Balchik. Shumen has, therefore, been one of the mostimportant military positions in the Balkan Peninsula.
In 811 Shumen was burned by theemperor Nicephorus,and in 1087 it was besieged by Alexius I. During the golden age of Bulgarianculture under Simeon the Great (866-927), Shumen was a centre ofcultural and religious activity, and may have born the name Simeonis.Until the 15th century, the city was located around the Shumen Fortress, a sophisticatedcomplex of defensive installations, religious and civil buildings.
In 1388 the sultan Murad I forcedit to surrender to the Ottoman Turks. After Władysław Warneńczyk's unsuccessful crusade in1444, the city was destroyed by the Ottomans and moved to its present location.In the 18th century it was enlarged and fortified. Three times, in 1774, 1810and 1828, it was unsuccessfully attacked by Russian armies. The Turksconsequently gave it the name of Gazi ("Victorious"). In 1854it was the headquarters of Omar Pasha and the point at which the Turkish armyconcentrated (See Crimean War).
During the 19th century Shumen was animportant centre of the Bulgarian National Revival, with thefirst celebration of Cyril and Methodius in the Bulgarian landstaking place on 11May 1813 and thefirst theatre performance. A girls' religious school was established in 1828, aclass school for girls and a chitalishte(community centre) followed in 1856. The first Bulgarian symphony orchestra wasfounded in the city in 1850. In the same year, influential Hungarianpolitician and revolutionary leader LajosKossuth spent a part of his exile in the then-Ottomantown of Shumen. The house he lived in is still preserved as a museum.
On the 22nd June 1878 Shumen finallycapitulated to the Russians and became part of the newly-independent Principality of Bulgaria. In 1882 the Shumen Brewery,one of the first breweries in Bulgaria, was founded.
Shumen boasts the Monument to1300 Years of Bulgaria, regarded as the only monument in the world todepict the history of a whole country from its creation to the present day.
The Shumen Fortress, partiallyrestored after being destroyed by the Ottomans in the past, is an importanthistorical monument of the medieval BulgarianEmpire. It is located not far from the city on the Shumen Plateau.
The MadaraHorseman, a World Heritage Site, is an ancient (710 AD)monument usually attributed to the Bulgar culture, and lies some 20 km fromShumen.
The religious buildings in the cityinclude the Eastern Orthodox Holy Three Saints Cathedral andHoly Ascension Basilica, as well as the TombulMosque, the largest mosque in Bulgaria and one of the largest in theBalkans, serving Shumen and the region's Muslim minority.