Kavarna’s Heavy Metal Murals

Glenn Hughes mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Glenn Hughes mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria

If you ever make it to the Bulgarian Black Sea coastal town of Kavarna, you’ll likely find yourself staring at this two-and-a-half story high mural of heavy metal journeyman Glenn Hughes which graces a building just up the block from city hall near one of the city’s main squares. Further up the block you’ll find yourself standing between a giant shirtless Billy Idol and a crooning John Lawton of Uriah Heep fame.

This heavy metal urban beautification is the brainchild of Mayor Tsonko Tsonev, whose primary quest since taking office has been to turn this city of 12,000 into Bulgaria’s rock capital. By any measure he’s been wildy successful.

An avid hard rock and heavy metal fan, Tsonev has attracted dozens of top metal bands to his hometown —Deep Purple, Motörhead, Manowar, The Scorpions, and Robert Plant among them– as part of the annual Kaliakra Rock Fest, later renamed the Kavarna Rock Fest.

How deep is his passion? In October 2010 Tsonev unveiled the world’s only statue memorializing former Black Sabbath frontman Ronnie James Dio. The 250 kilogram bronze, dedicated just five months after Dio’s death, has pride of place in the center of the city’s main park. Here’s a gallery and post specific to the Dio memorial.

Ronnie James Dio memorial in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Ronnie James Dio memorial in Kavarna

More of the murals are below. Can anyone help with the name of the Bulgarian musician?

Tarja Turunen mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Tarja Turunen in Kavarna


Holy Diver Ronnie James Dio mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Holy Diver Ronnie James Dio mural in Kavarna


Ian Gillan mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan


Joey DeMaio mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Joey DeMaio of Manowar fame


Billy Idol mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Rebel Yell


David Coverdale mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
David Coverdale


Lemmy Kilmister mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister


Klaus Meine mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Klaus Meine, frontman for the Scorpions


John Lawton mural in Kavarna, Bulgaria
Uriah Heep’s John Lawton


A mural of Emil Trifonov aka Kembalat in Kavarna, Bulgaria
A mural of Emil Trifonov aka Kembalat in Kavarna, Bulgaria



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  1. Thanks for sharing Kavarna’s famous building, Piran! Tsonko Tsonev is not a saint at all and there’s lots of destruction of the nature around his town in favor of some fat investors, but indeed he did transform Kavarna into a really nice place!

    The name of the Bulgarian singer is Emil Trifonov (better known as ‘Kembalat”) – he was an important entertainer and organiser of the festivals in Kavarna, who died in a car crash 5 years ago.

    Greetings from another Bulgarian photographer wandering around Earth,

    1. Thanks, Vlad for the help with Trifonov, much appreciated. I wondered about the environmental impact of some of the development around the city.

    1. As Vlad points out a few comments up, the mayor’s not a picture of selflessness, but he has accomplished some good for the city.

  2. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, via your post, I never would have believed it. Loving the Ronnie James Dio statue! Too much!

    1. Locating the Dio statue was a quest of sorts. And I don’t even care for him all that much. Knowing that such a monument existed was all that mattered. 🙂

  3. Oh how great, I’m actually quite the metal fan especially Billy Idol and Deep Purple. So great to see all those murals throughout the town. Besides the Rock Fest do they also have some worthy bars? Tsonev really put Kavarnas on the heavy metal map, though I have never heard of it. I guess I’m not such a die hard metal fan but now I might just pass through when I ever head to Bulgaria =)

    1. I don’t know anything about the bars – I was there for a long weekend covering an event and we were largely sequestered in a resort about 10 kilometers out of town.

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