The Black Sea Port-city in the Road of Modernization. The First Modern Attempts in Varna during the 1840s – 1870s. – in: Port cities of the Western Black sea coast and the Danube. Economic and social development in the long nineteenth century. Edited by Constantin Ardeleanu and Andreas Lyberatos. Black Sea History vol. I, Ionian University, Greece, 2015, pp. 214–224


Summary: Modernization is an important change in social life and marks the transition from traditional to industrial society. The process began in Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution and the political revolutions of the 18th century, mainly the French revolution (1789–1799), and reached the Balkans and the Black Sea region in 19th century. Especially for the Black Sea region the most important factors stimulating the process were the removal of the monopolies in the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of large grain-export toward the Mediterranean and West European ports at the end of the 1830s. Being the biggest port-city of the Western Black Sea, Varna wasn’t an exception to the rule. On the contrary, the history of the town during the 1840s – 1870s is full of interesting attempts to modernize the local economy and city life: trade was modernized as some limited joint-stock companies were set up and a trade on commission introduced; city-planning and architecture were improved; transport and communications were developed with the project for diligence track between Varna and Russe; the railway reached Varna; the town became the main station of the first telegraph line crossing the Black Sea region; for the first time the Varniotes could enjoy some modern entertainments like the casino, etc. But modernization wasn’t always that well welcomed in Varna. There were also cases in which it led to misunderstanding and failure – for example, the project of building a new large town port, unrealized until the beginning of the 20th century.

The paper is based on different sources: travel notes, newspapers from this period, archives, including unknown reports and correspondence of foreign diplomats (consuls) living in Varna during the 1840s – 1870s.

Keywords: Modernization, Varna, Black Sea region, consuls, trade

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