The roots of civic heraldry date back to the times when medieval cities were granted privileges and free statutes. From those ages till nowadays the civic heraldry develops with the development of local self-government.

The main, but not obligatory, mark of a city coat of arms is the mural crown.

Probably, the first city emblem in Bulgaria is that of Varna, 1880, while the first officially adopted coat of arms is that of Sofia, 1900. The Sofia blazon is like a pattern for many of the next city emblems in Bulgaria. It is quarterly with escutcheon, and includes landscape and architectural elements. The figures used are unacceptable from heraldic view point, but in that way, an erroneous trend in Bulgarian civic heraldry was enforced. According to that tendency, the so called coat of arms includes cultural and historical heritage, geographical location, and economic profile.

On the other side, the coats of arms, designed by the Romanian Consultative Committee for Heraldry for the 5 cities and 2 districts in South Dobrudja under 1919-40 Romanian Administration, introduced an interesting and additional nuance of civic heraldry.

During the communist period huge part of city emblems were drawn in the style of soviet graphics, and included five-pointed stars, cogwheels, wheat ears, architectural details, landscape views, inscriptions with the name of the town.

After 1990 the communist symbols were gradually eliminated, but non-heraldic practice continued. At the same time, the Law of Local Self-government and Local Administration allows the municipalities to adopt their own symbols, but does not regulate the kinds of symbols. Despite the deviation from the heraldic rules, insignificant number of real coats of arms could be mentioned.


Shumen, 1942:

an example of city emblem from the period of the monarchy

Balchik, 1930:

an example of civic coat of arms, granted by Romanian heraldry authority

Silistra, 1962:

an example of city emblem from the communist period


a good example of contemporary civic coat of arms