Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is a late 4th Century BC burial site located in Bulgaria and forms part of the ancient Thracian settlement of Seuthopolis.

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is perhaps best known for its incredibly well preserved examples of Thracian artwork, including wall frescoes and murals. Discovered in the mid-20th Century, the tomb site is one element of a larger Thracian necropolis which contains seven brick tombs.

To ensure continued conservation, access to the original tomb is limited, however visitors can explore a recreation of the tomb located nearby. Information about the history of the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is available on site in both English and Bulgarian.

The site is one of a number of Thracian tombs found in the area, and many of the artefacts from this site and others can be found on display in Kazanlak Museum.

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak was declared a UNESCO World Heritage historic site in 1979 and is one of our Top Ten Visitor Attractions of Bulgaria.


The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

“The Thracian tomb near Kazanlak was discovered by accident in 1944 by soldiers digging trenches in the Tyulbeto Hill,” Ivan Ivanov says. “Unfortunately, the tomb was robbed in ancient times. What remained were two skeletons – of a man and a horse, ceramics and an amphora. The most important finding, however, were the frescoes. This is the only Thracian tomb with well-preserved frescoes. The tomb consists of a corridor and two chambers. The frescoes show a battle between Thracians warriors and their enemies, as well as a farewell lunch of a Thracian leader with his wife.”

The Thracian leader is depicted with a wreath on his head. His wife is sitting on a throne. According to the historian, grief can be read in the eyes of the woman. She does not want to lose her previous life as according to Thracian traditions, she was to be buried with her husband.

“Next to the wife of the leader, two young women can be seen. One is holding a box, probably containing jewels. A coachman is holding a galloping team of 4 horses is also seen. Not a single scene is accidental. There are musicians depicted too, which confirms the fact Thracians loved music. Thracians were renowned winemakers in ancient times and wine is also part of the depicted scene. In order for the unique frescoes to be preserved, constant temperature and humidity are kept in the tomb. That is why it opens for visits only with a permission of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. In 1984 an exact copy of the tomb was built and it is open for visitors all year round.”

The historian also pointed out the fact that it was in the region of Kazanlak where archaeologist Georgi Kitov discovered a unique 23-carat gold mask of a Thracian ruler.


Thracian tomb

Thracian Tomb« Goliama Kosmatka » - The Tomb of the Thracian Tsar Sevt III is situated in the Golyamata Kosmatka mound, at a distance of 1 km south from the town of Shipka north from the town of Kazanlak . It was found in 2004. The Tomb was built in the second half of 5th century BC. A remarkable thing is the bronze head of the statue of Sevt III buried ritually in front of the façade, which is quite detailed. It is an important evidence of the Thracian Orphic rituals. The tomb temple consists of a corridor, an anteroom, a round chamber with high tholos cover and a rectangular chamber, constructed as a sarcophagus by two monolith blocks, one of which weighs more than 60 tones. The three halls are built of rectangular stone blocks and are covered with slabs. A two-winged marble door closes the entrance to the round chamber. The upper plains of the wings are decorated with images of God Dionysus, as in the east part he is an embodiment of the sun, and in the west – of the earth and the night.

The tomb is a part of the Valley of the Thracian Kings, which also includes the Kazanlak tomb, as well as the tombs and the temples found in the mounds Goliama Arsenalka, Shushmanets, Helvetsia, Grifoni, Svetitsa and Ostrusha.


Kazanlak Tomb

An original Thracian tomb from the 4th – 3rd century BC is situated in the Tyulbeto park. It is known as the Kazanlak Tomb. It is under a special storage regime. Its duplicate, constructed in scale 1:1, which presents the architecture, the archaeological materials and the wall-paintings of the Kazanlak Tomb, is situated next to it. This Tomb is one of the most significant monuments of the Thracian culture in the Bulgarian lands, included in the list of the global cultural inheritance of UNESCO in 1979.

The tomb was accidentally found in 1944 in the north-east region of Kazanlak, and it is a significant monument of the Thracian art from the early Hellenistic age.

Based on its architectural outlook, it belongs to the dome tombs, typical for the Thracian funeral architecture from the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC.

It is situated in the south part of a sepulchral mound and consists of three premises: a rectangular anteroom, a narrow brick corridor (dromos) and a brick sepulchral chamber with a round plan and a bell-shaped dome.

Two burials had been conducted in the sepulchre – of a man and of a woman, by means of corpse lying, which is evident from the preserved bones. According to the archaeologists, the tomb was robbed as early as in the Antiquity. Two clay askoses (flat round vessel with two handles) and a silver jug were found in the mound. A clay vessel – oynohoe (wine jug) and horse bones were found in the anteroom. A sharp-bottomed amphora, clay rosette with dry gilding, a funeral crown, small parts of golden jewels and pieces of local Thracian ceramics were found in the dome premise.

The monument owes its global fame to the remarkable wall-paintings in the corridor and the dome premise – one of the best-preserved products of the antique painting from the early Hellenistic age. The unknown painter had worked in four basic colors: black, red, yellow and white.

The wall decoration imitates in colors the front wall of a rich construction, coated in marble tiles and ending in architectural details. The warriors presented on the second frieze in the corridor represent a meeting between two enemy troops, and a fight scene is presented on the west wall. The scenes represent a historical event related to the life of the distinguished Thracian ruler buried in the tomb.

Figures of a man and a woman who are sitting by a small table covered in fruits are painted opposite to the entrance, in the dome premise in the center of the main frieze, and around them are presented their servants who are bringing gifts. A scene of a funeral feast with a procession is pictured. The distinguished married couple is crowned with laurel wreaths – a sign of heroisation which was widely popular during the Hellenistic age.

The wall decoration in the upper area of the dome ends with a second small frieze, which pictures three chariots pulled by two horses.

There is a shop for souvenirs and information materials by the duplicate tomb entrance.

The tomb is a part of the Valley of the Thracian Kings, which also includes the temples and the tombs found in the mounds Golyama Kosmatka, Golyama Arsenalka, Shushmanets, Helvetsia, Gryphons, Svetitsa (Female Saint) and Ostrusha.

May – November:
9.00 am – 5.00 pm
works every day

From November to April the tomb opens only on request for large groups.

Guided tour:
In Bulgarian language – BGN 5
in a foreign language – BGN 15


Cultural Tourism

Bulgaria is a country with thousands of years of history and a cultural heritage that embraces ancient civilizations. Visitors will find much to interest them in the country’s history, culture, ethnography, religion, architecture and the arts. Unique archaeological sites abound throughout the country – ancient settlement mounds from the Neolithic age, Thracian sanctuaries and tombs, remains of Roman cities, Byzantine and Medieval fortresses, architectural reserves, ethnographic complexes, churches and monasteries, Tekkes (mosques), among many others.

Despite the fact that it occupies only 2% of Europe’s territory, about 40,000 historical monuments have been registered in Bulgaria (7 of which are included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage sites), 36 cultural reserves, 160 monasteries, and roughly 330 museums and galleries. This includes prehistoric finds, Thracian tombs, sites from the Greek Age, Roman fortresses, historical monuments from the time of the First and the Second Bulgarian Kingdoms, and architectural landmarks from the Age of Revival.

Emblematic for Bulgaria are the monuments included in the UNESCO List: the Kazanlak Tomb (4th – 3rd century BC), the Thracian Tomb by the village of Sveshtari near Razgrad (3rd century BC), the Madara Horseman (8th century), the Boyana Church (10th – 11th century), the Ivanovo Rock Churches near Ruse (10th – 14th century), the Rila Monastery (10th century), the Old Town in Nesebar.

The Karanovska settlement mound provides a basis for determining the Karanovska Neolithic periods and serves as a model for understanding the development of European prehistoric cultures. Of great interest is the Valley of the Thracian Kings, in which more than 15 tombs have been discovered. Perperikon is also located in the territory of our country. It is considered to be the temple of God Dionysus containing a prophecy chamber equal in importance to the one dedicated to Apollo at Delphi. It is believed that this was the capital of the Odryssian Kingdom. The largest Thracian royal complex with a mausoleum temple in Southeast Europe was discovered in the region of the village of Starosel. The oldest gold in the world was discovered in the Varna necropolis. Many Thracian golden treasures have also been found, such as the Panagyurishte, Valchitran, and Rogozen treasures. There are numerous remains of the Thracian, Hellenistic and Roman culture. Entire Roman city complexes have been found at Augustra Trayana, Trimontium, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Pautalia, Akre, Mesemvria, Apolonia, Serdika, and other sites.

Many of Bulgaria’s monasteries have been instrumental in preserving the Bulgarian Orthodox faith and culture. Some of them are the Rila Monastery, Bachkovo Monastery, Troyan Monastery, Zemen Monastery, Rozhen Monastery, Kilifarevski Monastery, Sokolski Monastery, among others. In the country there are also many churches that house unique examples of the Bulgarian iconographic, woodcarving and painting schools and that possess valuable manuscripts. The relics of St. John the Baptist were found on the island of St. John off Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

Cultural monuments from the Bulgarian Revival period can be found in many of its cities, towns, and villages, such as those in Kotel, Koprivshtitsa, Karlovo, Kalofer, Sopot, Elena, Tryavna, Bansko, Melnik. the Old Plovdiv, Gela, Shiroka Laka, Momchilovtsi, Orehovo, Smilyan, Arda, Dolen, Leshten, Kovachevitsa, Pletena, Bozhentsi, Ribaritsa, Zheravna, Oreshak, Medven, Skandalo, Arbanasi, Balgari, Kosti, Brashlyan, and Mladezhko. There are many ways for visitors to appreciate Bulgarian crafts such as woodcarving, embroidery, pottery, and knitting. For example, there is the architectural and ethnographic open-air museum at Etara, near Gabrovo, the ethnographic complexes The Old Dobrich and Chiflika near Albena, Bansko, the ethnographic complex Kulata – Kazanlak, the ethnographic complex at Zlatograd, Varosha – Blagoevgrad, the ethnographic complex Brashlyan – Malko Tarnovo, and others.

There are also opportunities to observe traditional economic activities in our lands, such as the manufacture of rose oil and wine production.

Bulgaria has an exceptionally diverse calendar that preserves the country’s folk traditions and customs – Surva (St. Vasil’s Day), St. Jordan’s Day – Epiphany, St. John’s Day, St. Anton’s Day, Trifon Zarezan, Martuvane (giving martenitsas), the first Sunday before Lent, Mummer’s Day, St. Todor’s Day, the Annunciation Day, Easter, St. George’s Day, the Day of Virgin Mary, St. Dimitar’s Day, All Souls Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. Many Bulgarian village celebrations and folkways preserve ancient traditions and customs, such as St. Lazar’s Day, Palm Sunday, the mummers, carol singing, fire-dancing and many others. Exceptionally attractive are the folklore festivals and gatherings – for instance, the International Mummers Festival “Starchevata” (Razlog), the International Festival of Masquerade Games “Surva” (Pernik), the Ethnicities Gathering (municipality of Beloslav), the International Folklore Festival (Veliko Tarnovo), the National Folklore Festival “Rozhen”, the International Bagpipe Festival in the village of Gela, and many others.

There are more than 200 museums in the country – the unique Museum of Yogurt in the village of Studen Izvor (Tran region), the Museum of Roses in Kazanlak, the Museum of Transport in Ruse, the Museum of Fretwork in Tryavna, the Museum of Humor in Gabrovo, the Museum of Medical History in Varna, the Museum of Mosaics in Devnya, the Museum of Salt in the town of Pomorie, the Polytechnic Museum in Sofia City, the National Museum of Anthropology in Sofia, the Museum of Aviation in Plovdiv, the Museum of Wine in Pleven, the National History Museum, the museum “Earth and its People,” and many others.

The country’s calendar abounds in cultural events. Some of these are the Sofia Film Fest, the festival “Varna Summer”, the “Music Days in March” in Ruse, the “Sofia Music Weeks”, “Apolonia” and many others.


Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak (Bulgarian: Казанлъшка гробница , Kazanlŭshka grobnitsa) is a vaulted-brickwork "beehive" (tholos) tomb near the town of Kazanlak in central Bulgaria.

The tomb is part of a large Thracian necropolis. It comprises a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The monument dates back to the 4th century BCE and has been on the UNESCO protected World Heritage Site list since 1979. The murals are memorable for the splendid horses and for a gesture of farewell, in which the seated couple grasp each other's wrists in a moment of tenderness and equality (according to Lyudmila Zhivkova—a view that is not shared by all specialists). The paintings are Bulgaria's best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

The tomb is situated near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis in a region where more than a thousand tombs of kings and members of the Thracian aristocracy can be found.

The seated woman of the murals is depicted on the reverse of the Bulgarian 50 stotinki coin issued in 2005. [1]


The Tomb of Tsar Sevt – Golyamata Kosmatka – town of Kazanlak

The Tomb of the Thracian Tsar Sevt III is situated in the Golyamata Kosmatka mound, at a distance of 1 km south from the town of Shipka north from the town of Kazanlak. It was found in 2004. The Tomb was built in the second half of the 5th century BC. The following items were found inside it – the golden crown of the ruler, a golden kilix (a wine glass), knee-pads and a helmet, applications for horse tackle, etc., which are presented in the historical museum of the town of Kazanlak. A remarkable thing is the bronze head of the statue of Sevt III buried ritually in front of the facade, which is quite detailed. It is important evidence of the Thracian Orphic rituals.

The tomb temple consists of a corridor, an anteroom, a round chamber with high tholos cover and a rectangular chamber, constructed as a sarcophagus by two monolith blocks, one of which weighs more than 60 tones. The three halls are built of rectangular stone blocks and are covered with slabs. A two-winged marble door closes the entrance to the round chamber. The upper plains of the wings are decorated with images of God Dionysus, as in the east part he is an embodiment of the sun, and in the west – of the earth and the night.

The ritual couch and the ritual chamber are placed in the rectangular chamber. They were covered with fabric made of a golden thread, after that a splendid funeral of the ruler was performed. Above the phial, the jug and the helmet, was inscribed the name of Sevt, which proves that in the beginning of the 3rd century BC here was buried Sevt III – the famous Thracian ruler of the Odrysian kingdom.

The capital of his kingdom, called Sevtopolis, is situated at about ten kilometers south-west from the tomb, on the bottom of Koprinka dam. The head of the statue of Sevt is buried in the tomb, and it was placed on a pedestal in the capital Sevtopolis.

The personal belongings and the gifts, needed for the afterlife of the ruler are carefully placed in the chamber. After the burial the entrance of the round chamber and the anteroom were blocked, the horse of the ruler was sacrificed, and the corridor was ritually set on fire.

The tomb is a part of the Valley of the Thracian Kings, which also includes the Kazanlak tomb, as well as the tombs and the temples found in the mounds Goliama Arsenalka, Shushmanets, Helvetsia, Grifoni, Svetitsa, and Ostrusha.

The curators of the Historical Museum in Kazanlak offer tours and lectures in Bulgarian, English and German language.

Opening hours:
9.00 am – 5.00 pm

Guided tours:
in Bulgarian – BGN 5
in English and German language – BGN 15
Admission:
for adults – BGN 3
for students – BGN 1


Thracian Sanctuary – Megalit

A breathtaking view unravels from the Megalith shrine, you can see the amazing Balkan mountains and the Rose Valley below it.

The sanctuary is located 5 km south of Kazanlak, above the Buzovgrad village. You can easily reach Buzovgrad by car, bus, taxi or cycling. The hike from Buzovgrad begins from its southern end and lasts approximately 30 minutes.

CC BY-SA 4.0 – Ivo Filipov

The shrine is oftentimes called “the Bulgarian Stonehenge” and is believed to originate somewhere around the late eneolith and the early bronze era.

The sanctuary consists of the “Door of the Goddess Mother” and the “Father’s Stone”, two stone structures located near each other. The Door of the Goddess Mother has a 1.8-meter high ‘door’ where the sun enters it during sunset. For the Thracians, the sunset is a symbol of death while the sunrise – a symbol of birth. There are a few theories on what the sanctuary was used for.

  • Burial rituals for Thracian priests and aristocrats.
  • Calendar, only during the summer solstice (21 June), when the sun sets, it shines its light through the ‘door’ and onto a big stone located at the farther end of the sanctuary.
  • Watch and signal tower – Thracians could communicate with other settlements on the Balkan mountain using mirrors during the day and bonfires during the night.

Archaeology & History Sites in South Central Bulgaria

Buzludzha Monument

Constructed in 1981 by the Bulgarian communist regime to commemorate the founding of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, the Buzludzha Monument is no longer maintained. As the roof of the dome has been heavily damaged and is unsafe it is now closed to visitors. The peak itself has a significant history. On 18 July 1868 Hadzhi Dimitar, a prominent revolutionary for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire, was defeated here by the Ottomans. Photo © Mark Ahsmann

Roman Hisarya &ndash Diocletianopolis

The natural springs in Hisarya have been attracting people for thousands of years. Although evidence of prehistoric and Thracian occupation has been found around the town, Hisarya is best known for its impressive Roman remains. These include the military barracks, public baths, a small amphitheatre and fortifications. Hisarya was one of the three most important towns in the Roman province of Thrace, then called Diocletianopolis or Augusta.

Roman Plovdiv &ndash Trimontium

Lucian of Samosata described Plovdiv as &ldquothe largest and most beautiful of all cities.&rdquo Although not the capital of the Roman Province of Thrace, it was the most important and largest city in the region. Hence the large-scale construction of buildings by the Romans. Some of these survive today making this a great city to visit for archaeology. These include a forum, a stadium, two basilicas and a theatre that has spectacular views over the city onto mountains to the south. Photo © Dennis Jarvis

Shipka Memorial Church

Given the church&rsquos position on the side of a mountain above the town of Shipka, the bright, gold domes can be seen from afar. Although built at the turn of the 19th century, it has the design of a 17th century Muscovite church. The monastery is dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers who fell fighting for the liberation of Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. The 53 metre high bell tower has bells that were cast from cartridges collected from the battlefields.

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

Dating to the end of the 4th century BC and discovered in 1944, this Thracian tomb on the outskirts of the town of Kazanlak is considered the finest example of Thracian creative expression in Bulgaria. Consequently, visitors today visit a replica, not the original tomb. An inner, circular burial chamber is accessed by a narrow corridor, both of which have exquisite frescoes depicting Thracian rituals. The site was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 1979.

Thracian Tomb of Otrusha

Under a mound of about 18 metres high a six-roomed structure that covers about 100 square metres. One of the chambers is fully preserved, and cut from two pieces of granite &ndash weighting about 60 tons. One of these is the roof block, the inner ceiling of which has exquisite portrait-style paintings. The tomb was plundered in the past, but excavations in 1993 recovered the remains of a beautifully decorated horse sacrifice.

Thracian Tomb of Shushmanets

The Thracian tomb within this mound was excavated relatively recently, 1996. A large corridor leads to an antechamber, which in turn leads into a circular burial chamber with a domed ceiling. A variety of styles was used for the columns, an Ionic column in the antechamber and Doric columns in the chamber. Unfortunately the tomb has been robbed, but remains of a funerary bed were recovered. As with other tombs in the Valley of the Thracian Kings, this one is also dated to the 4th century BC.


Day trips

Plovdiv is the oldest still living city in Europe continuously inhabited since 6000 years BC. Famous historical monuments include the Roman Stadium, the Ancient Theatre, the charming Old Town and more. Plovdiv is a spectacular city combining millennia of history, unique laid back atmosphere and natural beauties including the picturesque six hills, the peaceful Maritsa River and the mystical Rhodope Mountains nearby. With all this above it’s not by accident that most Bulgarians and foreign visitors consider the city as the most beautiful in the country.

Plovdiv is the 2019 European capital of culture and the first Bulgarian city to be awarded the title. Situated in Central Bulgaria Plovdiv is an ideal destination for a centre based holiday to discover the other landmarks of the country as well. If you are fortunate to spend some of your holiday in Plovdiv and you are planning to see the area or the country we would be pleased to assist you with your choice and to offer you a list of guided one day trips, private tours and transfers that we organize from Plovdiv. If you would like a different customized tour, please don’t hesitate to contact us as well. We will design a trip according to your special wishes.

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The rose is one of the main symbols of Bulgaria. The country produces the best rose oil in the world since 1664 when the first rose bushes were imported from Syria via Ottoman Turkey. Now Bulgaria manufactures about 70% of all rose oil in the world. The Kazanlak rose (from the family of the Damask roses) is being grown in the notorious Rose Valley in Central Bulgaria where the unique climate conditions and soils are perfect for this remarkable plant. The Rose valley covers geographically the Valley of the Thracian Kings as well. The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in South-eastern Europe between the 3-rd millennium BC. and 6-th century AD. Many impressive Thracian tombs, temples and sanctuaries with lots of golden, silver and bronze craftsman masterpieces inside them have been found on the territory of Bulgaria.

Travelling through some rose bushes fields we arrive to the centre of Kazanlak town (population: 52 000 people). Our first stop for the day is the Rose Museum of Kazanlak which is the only one of its kind in the world and stores more than 15 000 exponents related to the rose-picking and rose-production in Bulgaria.

Then we proceed to the local Museum of history Iskra keeping more than 50 000 original exponents. The museum protects, examines and popularizes the entire rich historical heritage of the Kazanlak region, including all Thracian tombs and treasures from the Valley of the Thracian rulers.

Next we discover the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site – the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak which impresses the visitor with its unique frescoes from IV century BC. The tomb consists of a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber with the famous paintings on the cupola. The Thracian tomb of Kazanlak is a unique aesthetic and artistic work, a masterpiece of the Thracian creative spirit. This monument is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world.

The exceptionally well preserved frescoes and the original condition of the structure reveal the remarkable evolution and high level of culture and pictorial art in Hellenistic Thrace. The original Kazanlak tomb is closed for tourists in order to preserve the very precious frescoes inside. Travelers visit the replica nearby.

After lunch we continue to the Thracian Tomb Golyama Kosmatka . This is one of the biggest mounds ever found on the Balkan Peninsula, dating from the end of V century BC. About 20 gold objects were found in that tomb. Among them is a very precisely made golden wreath from oak leaves, a golden wine cup, golden heads of a goddess and a deer. The most ancient object ever found in a Thracian grave is a silver shell with golden decoration. A bronze man’s head was found in Golyama Kosmatka too. All findings impress with their marvellous workmanship and are valuable examples of art. They are exhibited in the historical museum of Kazanlak. Archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of the greatest Thracian king Seuthes III.

Our final stop for the day is the Shipka Memorial Church which is an outstanding Russian Orthodox temple built between 1885 and 1902 near Shipka town at the foothills of the Balkan Range. The Shipka Monument complex is dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers who died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo – Turkish War from 1877-78.


Period:
Year round the bloom of the roses varies slightly every year but generally is between 1-st of May and 15-th of June. Lavender is in bloom in June, while sunflowers start in mid-June until the end of July.

Trip duration: 7,5 hours

Price: Please e-mail us with your possible tour date/s, the number of people in your group and you’ll be quoted accordingly. We’ll aslo advise on eventual shared trip options at a lower cost.

Included: English speaking tour guide, transfers from/to your hotel in Plovdiv

Not included: Combined ticket to the Rose museum, Kazanlak historical museum, Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak and Golyama Kosmatka Thracian Temple-Tomb (9 EUR), food and tips

Note: You can combine this day trip with a transfer to Veliko Tarnovo if you need to be delivered there after the tour or vice-versa – to get collected from your Veliko Tarnovo hotel in the morning and after exploring Kazanlak area to get transferred to your accommodation in Plovdiv.


Watch the video: Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak Bulgaria Atlas Obscura History and Visitor