Bulgaria

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Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria is a country in the Balkans on the western side of the Black Sea. It's surrounded by Romania to the north, Serbia to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia to the southwest, Greece to the south, and Turkey to the southeast.

Population: 6,981,642 people
Area: 110,879 km2
Highest point: 2,925 m
Coastline: 354 km
Life expectancy: 74.08 years
GDP per capita: $14,500
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About Bulgaria

History

Ancient World

Excavations have found artefacts dating back to 5000 B.C. The territory of the country has been continuously inhabited from then on and various peoples and communities have lived on the grounds of present-day Bulgaria. In ancient Greek times the region had numerous towns established in it, with some of them still standing as cities and towns in Bulgaria. In later ages the area of modern Bulgaria was part of the Roman Empire with tree provinces. In the beginning of the Middle Ages some Slavic tribes settled on the Balkans, and in the late 7th century a branch of them merged with the Proto-Bulgarians - a Central Asian tribe coming along with the last waves of the Great Migration - to form the first Bulgarian state on the Balkans.

First and Second Bulgarian Empires

In succeeding centuries, Bulgarian and the Byzantine Empires dominated South-East Europe, with constant changes in the proportion of power and influence that the empires had in this part of the world. At times the Bulgarians were days away from conquering the cradle of civilization of that period: the Byzantine capital Constantinople; and at times, the Byzantines made fatal blows on the Bulgarian state. During the Middle Ages Bulgaria was the centre of Slavic culture and one of the focal points of Christianity. Religious literature and fine arts were developed in Bulgarian schools and the country was famous for its hand crafts. Bulgaria was the first state to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet (in its primal form) as its own writing system in 886 A.D. The first "Golden Age" of Bulgaria lasted from about 811 A.D. to 924 A.D. during the rule of knyaz Boris I and of tzar Simeon the Great, kings of the First Bulgarian Empire. The second Golden Age in the state was from 1200 A.D. to 1241 A.D. in the reign of tzar Ivan Asen II, king of the Second Bulgarian Empire. He was a ruler of the Asenevtsi dynasty, a house that re-established the Bulgarian state after it had fallen from the Byzantine Empire and was "absent from the map" for nearly two hundred years until 1185. The rule of Asenevtsi is famous for crushing the crusaders after they gave up on their aim to conquer the holy lands and turned against Orthodox Christianity. Around and after the battle with the crusaders the rulers of the Second Bulgarian Empire had a reign of supremacy in this part of Europe as the state has become the largest and most powerful in "the neighbourhood".

Ottoman Rule

But by the end of the 14th century the region was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. The Bulgarians, along with the other Balkan peoples, became part of the Ottoman Empire. Five centuries later, in 1879, Bulgaria was liberated with extensive help from the Russian Empire as part of their larger fight against the Ottoman Empire. The country's iconic heroes include freedom fighters and intellectuals from the time of the Ottoman rule. Some of the most prominent are: Father Paisiy, Georgi Sava Rakovski - the revolutionary strategist, Vasil Levski - the Apostle of Freedom, and Hristo Botev - poet and fighter. Bulgaria gained its de facto independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1908.

Third Bulgarian State

After a series of bloody and brutal Balkan wars and a national catastrophe, Bulgaria had the further misfortune to be occupied by the losing side in both World Wars, and fell within the Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War. It became a People's Republic in 1946, with the communist party in the leader position. During Communist times, the Black Sea was a favorite destination for travellers behind the Iron Curtain and many of the resorts in the country were built in that era. In the end of 1989 the communist domination was brought to a swift end. Though Bulgaria held multi-party elections, many communist politicians stayed in power with re-branded socialist policies. Hyperinflation and economic meltdown made long retired workers to go begging in the streets to supplement their now-worthless pensions, young people to start shady businesses and the community to look up to leaders of the mafia for help. The situation finally drove the old guard out of power in 1997, but the country was in a tough political situation because of the spread of the influence of the "underground processes" in all the levels of the government.

Today, reforms and democratization have brought Bulgaria into the NATO fold, with EU accession celebrated in 2007. Bulgaria intends to drop its national currency - the lev, and join the Eurozone in 2015, but these plans may be on hold. Though it has a relatively stable economy and low debt, it is still one of the European Union's poorest members. For traveller's this means a poor road infrastructure, but fairly cheap meals and hotels if you look around. Increasing numbers of western Europeans travel throughout the country and many have bought vacation houses near the Black Sea or in picturesque villages.

Geography

Terrain

The Balkan mountain chain separates North from South Bulgaria as it goes all the way from the furthest northwestern parts of the country to the east ending on the coast of the Black Sea. In its South, the terrain of Bulgaria is dominated by high mountains and river valleys taking up almost all of the western and the southernmost areas of the country. The South also includes the Thracian plain and the low mountains of Strandzha and Sakar. The territory of North Bulgaria is entirely lowlands. Eastern Bulgaria is all coasts and beaches of the Black Sea.

Highest point: Mount "Musala" in Rila mountain - 2925m (highest peak in Eastern Europe)

Climate

Continental in most of the interior: moderately cold winters with occasional heavy snowfalls; hot and dry or mildly humid summers. Temperate on the coast: mild autumns, cool winters, mild springs and warm and breezy summers. Subtropical in its South-West: mild winters with more rain than snow in the lower grounds; hot and humid summers.

The temperatures during the winter period average between -5°С and 0°С in the plains, between -2°С and 3°С at the seaside, and between -10°С and -6°С in the mountains. The winter extremes usually reach -15°С in the inhabited areas, with the occasional -25°С during cold years.

In the summer the temperatures vary from 25°С to 30°С in the plains, from 21°С to 28°С on the coast of the Black Sea, and from 18°С to 21°С in the mountains. The extremes in summer pass 40°С and occasionally the temperatures in the plains near the rivers reach 46°С-48°С.

Activities

Hiking - It is a popular activity in Bulgaria, where a big choice of regions for a day or multyday walking trips is available. The best time for hiking in the highest parts of the mountains is in summer, between late June and September as the snow is already melted and the weather is generally dry. In winter, snowshoeing and ski trips are possible between December and March, depending on the current snow and weather conditions.The main hiking areas are:

  • in the Balkan - this mountain chain gives the name of the Balkan Peninsula. It stretches all along the country and is popular among the fans of the long distance hiking trips. One of the famous European Long Distance Routes (E3) follows its main southern ridge all the way from the west border of the country to the seaside. One of the three national parks in Bulgaria - National Park Central Balkan - is situated here. Also, on the northern side of the mountain is Nature Park Bulgarka. Both parks are protected areas as they contain rare and endangered wildlife species and communities, self-regulating ecosystems of biological diversity, as well as historical sites of global cultural and scientific significance.
  • in Bulgarian Shopluk - The highest point of the Balkans (Mount Musala - 2925m ) is situated in Rila. Beside it, the northwestern parts of the mountain are a popular hiking destination, rich to nature and cultural sights as the Seven Lakes Cirque, Skakavitsa Waterfall (the highest in Rila), the Rila Monastery and the area of Malyovitsa. National Park Rila, which is the biggest in Bulgaria, is situated here.
  • in Pirin - Located south from Rila and close to Greece and the Mediterranean Sea, these mountains are famous with the biggest number of sunny days per year among the mountain ranges in Bulgaria. The most popular hiking area is Northern Pirin. Its highest peak (Mount Vihren - 2914m) is the third highest the Balkans, after mount Musala in Rila and mount Mitikas in Olympus, Greece. Another popular route follows the main ridge of the mountains, crossing a landmark, called "The Foal" - a very tiny part of the ridge, which is secured and accessible for hikers. National Park Pirin is established to protect the nature in these mountains. Pirin is also famous with a number of blue high mountain glacier lakes.
  • in the Rhodope Mountains - Located in South Bulgaria, the Rhodopes take up nearly one-eight part of the territory of the country. The landscapes here are quite different than in those of Rila and Pirin - there is no such a jagged peaks, but endless "sea" of green hills and a number of small villages between them. The Rhodopes offer a lot of opportunities for easy hiking in combination with getting to know the local culture and traditions. The area is inhabited from an old time and nowadays both Christians and Muslims live here and contribute to the unique local culture. The Rhodopes are known as the home of Orpheus - the mythical Greek musician and poet who entered the underworld to revive his beloved wife Eurydice.

There is an extensive network of marked tourist trails available and this allows a large number of different routes. The main accommodation in Balkan, Rila and Pirin mountains are the mountain huts and lodges, which usually offer rustic conditions, but there are also numerous three- and four-star hotels near populat tourist destinations. In the Rhodopes it is possible to stay in local guest houses.

Winter Sports - There is a large number of winter resorts all around the Bulgarian mountains. Some of the most popular are Bansko, Pamporovo,Borovets and Chepelare

Enjoy the beach - the Bulgarian seaside is full of enchanting resorts mixing the modern hotels and wild night life with ancient sights and traditional culture. Famous resorts include Albena, Golden Sands, Nessebar, Primorsko, Sveti Vlas, Sozopol, and of course Sunny Beach.

Enjoy the nightlife - Bulgaria has a wide variety of entertainments to offer to any generation and that can satisfy any taste. However, one of the things the country is most famous of is its nightlife. A mix of oriental passion, European vision and unique Bulgarian seasoning that can be found throughout all the summer beach resorts at the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, the mountain resorts, and almost any city and university town including Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Haskovo, Veliko Tarnovo, Blagoevgrad, and many others.

Food

Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. It has some Turkish and Greek influences, but it has some unique elements. The relatively warm climate and diverse geography produce excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, bean cultures, herbs and fruits. Bulgarian cuisine is particularly diverse.

Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of wines and local alcoholic drinks. Bulgarian cuisine features also a diversity of traditional hot and cold soups, and numerous main dishes featuring a myriad of local grown vegetables. The meat appetizers that are typically served after the main dish are not to be missed out on. Bulgaria is also famous for the abundance of pastries in its cuisine.

A traditional Bulgarian meal starts with a salad of choice and some strong alcoholic beverage. The Bulgarian likes to drink wine or beer with its main dish continuing with the chosen drink by the end of the meal. This is why in most restaurants a salad is considered to be the best combination for strong alcoholic drinks.

In recent years, restaurants serving international cuisine have also made a presence in the country, offering various options such as Chinese, French, Italian, and international contemporary.

It is also worth noting that because of Bulgaria's beneficial geographical location and the slow technological progress in the agricultural sector of the economy the plant products used in the typical Bulgarian kitchen are all organic.

Vegetarian

There are a number of traditionally vegetarian dishes in Bulgarian cuisine including salads, soups, and some main dishes.

Salads - main ingredients in Bulgarian salads are tomatoes, cucumbers and white cheese. The most popular Bulgarian salad is Shopska salad, which is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, raw or roasted peppers (preferably roasted), white cheese and is typically seasoned with parsley. The dressing for Shopska salad is salt, sunflower oil and wine vinegar.

Soups - Traditional Bulgarian vegetarian soups include: Bob Chorba (боб чорба) which is a minty bean soup, Leshta Chorba (Леща чорба) which is minty lentil soup and Tarator (Таратор) - a cold yoghurt and cucumber soup.

Main dishes - there is a wide variety of boiled, fried, breaded, or roasted vegetarian dishes.

  • Panagyurski style eggs (Яйца по панагюрски) - Boiled open eggs served in yoghurt and white cheese with red pepper and garlic seasoning
  • Mish-mash - fried mixed eggs with peppers (and onions) seasoned with fresh spices
  • Byurek pepper (Чушка бюрек) - baked pepper stuffed with seasoned eggs and white cheese mix, breaded and fried
  • Vegeterian sarmi (посни сърми) - rolls of either vine leafs or pickled cabbage leafs filled with seasoned rice and served with yoghurt

Traditional milk products

There are only two native kinds of cheese: the yellow-colored Kashkaval (Кашкавал) - more or less akin to the Dutch Gouda - and the more popular white Sirene (Сирене) - a kind of Feta cheese, similar to Greek Feta in taste but more sour. Originally made from sheep milk, it is available from cow or goat milk, or mixed.

A pride of the Bulgarian people, yoghurt has Bulgaria for its motherland. The native Bulgarian original yoghurt (kiselo mlyako) contains Lactobacilicus Bulgaricus, a bacterium which serves as the basis for active culture "plain" yoghurt in other countries. Normally made from cow or sheep milk, it can also be prepared from buffalo milk, with a remarkably stronger taste.

Being a staple, and quite favourite around the country, Bulgarian yoghurt also is an ingredient to many dishes, the most famous one being the cold soup Tarator and the drink Ayran. Yoghurt is also a main ingredient of a white sauce used in baking.

There are a lot of dishes served with yoghurt on the side since Bulgaria is the homeland of the product.

Traditional meat appetizers

There is a large number of traditional meat appetizers from all kinds of meat in Bulgarian cuisine. The most widely consumed, however, have been pork. Traditional meat appetizers are made from either the meat of the animal or from its intestines, but some of the delicacies include both. Other ingredients include leek, garlic, sometimes rice and a wide variety of herbs and spices such as savoury, thyme, parsley, cumin, dill, black pepper, red pepper, and others.

Cooked traditional meat appetizers include fried liver ( typically chicken, pork or lamb), roasted lamb intestines in herbs and spices, breaded veal tongue or veal tongue with mushrooms in butter, and veal stomach in butter or with mushrooms and cheese. Other popular cooked meat appetizers are sazdarma (саздърма) and bahur. Sazdarma is made of chopped meat and usually is seasoned with Daphne leafs and black pepper and can be from veal, lamb or mutton, while bahur is made of chopped pork meat and liver, with added rice and seasoned with allspice, savoury and black pepper. Although, some may think that those appetizers do not sound attractive at all, many of them fin out that they are a jewel once they have tried them.

Smoked and/or dried meat appetizers can be generally divided into two types: pastramis and salamis.

Some of the most popular pastrami-type appetizers are the pork Elena fillet (a salted air-dried fillet covered in savoury, thyme and other herbs) and Trakiya fillet (again, salted and air-dried fillet which is more juicy than Elena fillet and is covered in red pepper). There is also a wide variety of conventional pastramis (air-dried and then smoked and steamed) made from pork, veal, mutton, lamb and turkey. Pastrami in Bulgaria is transcribed as пастърма (pastarma). Another popular fillet appetizer is air-dried mackerel (in Bulgarian veyana skumriya (веяна скумрия) and it can be found in restaurant all around the seaside.

Salami-like appetizers are mostly made of pork and are only air-dried. The most popular are lukanka (made of minced pork with black pepper and cumin), ambaritsa (made of minced meat with red pepper, black pepper and garlic), babek (chopped meat and belly with red pepper, black pepper and either dill or savoury), and starets (chopped meat and belly with black pepper, cumin, allspice and rarely leek or garlic).

Bulgarians have a long tradition of making meat appetizers and many of them vary in recipe across the country. Much of them can be found in different varieties in restaurants and food stores. Most of the most popular appetizers have regional recipes that give the distinct flavour of the area.

Popular local dishes with meat

The most preferred Bulgarian salad is the shopska salad. However, there is another traditional salad that includes the ingredients of the shopska salad and adds it own distinct touch. The ovcharska salad is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion, parsley and white cheese combined with mushrooms, boiled eggs, yellow cheese and most significantly - ham. The dressing again is salt, sunflower oil and wine vinegar.

As a main course you can have:

  • Bulgarian moussaka - a rich oven-baked dish of among other ingredients: potatoes, minced meat and white sauce of eggs and yoghurt served traditionally with chilled yoghurt;
  • Gyuvetch - typical ingredients include chopped potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, peas and some meat done in a clay pot called gyuvetch (from where the name of the dish comes
  • Sarmi - rolls of vine or pickled cabbage leaves with rise and meat
  • Drob sarma - a dish of lamb liver, belly and kidneys with rice covered white sauce and baked, served with yoghurt
  • Kavarma - fried meat with tomatoes, onions and peppers
  • Kapama - rolls of pickled cabbage leafs filled with four types of meat and at least one type of sausages in tomatoes and onions baked in a gyuvetch

Fast food

In Bulgaria there are traditional bakeries that prepare different kinds of pastry products. Banitsa and mekitsa are the favorite salty and sweet (respectively) pastries among others like tutmanik, milinka and kifla. Also, a traditional fast food option in Bulgaria is the grilled foods, such as kebabche and kufte (made of minced meat), karnache (a variety of sausage) and shishche (a king of shish-kebab made with chicken or pork meat).

Pizza, dyuner (döner kebab), sandwiches and toasts, or hamburgers are also very easily found on the streets of Bulgaria. There are also many local and international fast-food chains. While the local vary across regions, some of the internationally recognised McDonalds, KFC, Subway and Burger King are in every big city.

Drinks

Non-alcoholic

There are more than six hundred mineral water springs around the country, so this is something you'd better taste and drink. However, tap water is not safe to drink in some regions.

Some of the most popular traditional non-alcoholic beverages in the country are ayran/ayryan (yoghurt, water and salt) and boza (sweet millet ale).

Another popular non-alcoholic drink is the fizzy drink "Etar" that has a distinct caramel flavour.

Wine

Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria, dating back to the times of the Thracians. Wine is, together with beer and grape rakia, among the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.

Some of the well known local wine varieties include:

  • the red dry wines Mavrud, Pamid, Gamza;
  • the red sweet wines Melnik, Dimyat, Misket, Malaga (made of raisins), Muskat, Pelin (with sour notes), Kadarka;
  • and the white wines Keratsuda (dry) and Pelin (sweet with sour notes).

Beer

Beer (bira: бира) is produced and consumed all around the country. You can find readily available excellent local varieties like Kamenitza (from Plovdiv), Zagorka (from Stara Zagora), Ariana (from Sofia), Pirinsko (from Blagoevgrad) and Shumensko (from Shumen), as well as Western European beers produced under license and produced in Bulgaria like Tuborg, Heineken, Stella Artois and Amstel.

Spirits

  • Rakia/rakiya (ракия) is the Bulgarian national alcoholic drink. It is served neat, usually at the beginning of a meal with salads. It's is strong (40% vol) clear brandy that is most commonly made from grapes or plums. However, there are as many varieties of the alcohol as there are fruit. Some of the best special selections are either made of apricots, or pears, or cherries, or peaches.

In many regions people still distil their rakia at home. Home-made rakia may include some special ingredients such as anise, honey, milk, natural gum and lozenges. Home-made rakia is then usually much stronger (around 50% to 60% vol).

  • Another quite popular drink is mastika (мастика). It is a strong (47 - 55% vol) anise-flavoured drink very similar to Greek ouzo. It is usually consumed with ice, with water in a 1:1 mixture.
  • Menta (мента) is a Bulgarian peppermint liqueur. It can be combined with mastika getting the Cloud cocktail (Oblak). Menta can also be combined with milk for a weak alcoholi, but tasty cocktail.

Shopping

Money

The Bulgarian unit of currency is the Lev (лев, abbreviated "лв", plural: Leva), comprised of one hundred Stotinki. The Lev is pegged to the Euro at 1.95583 Leva for one Euro (which is the same rate as for the former Deutsche Mark, to which the Lev had previously been pegged 1:1).

Shopkeepers and other businesses in Bulgaria will usually not accept foreign money, although many will accept the euro. Bulgaria remains a largely cash economy in the rural areas; but in major cities, credit cards are generally accepted.

In most cities there are many money exchange offices which are marked with signs that say "CHANGE". Most are legitimate, but some may rip you off. For example, they advertise a very competitive rate on the outside, but on the inside, there is a tiny sign with the "official" rates, and these are much worse – so always make sure to ask how many leva you will get for your money before you actually hand it over, and calculate yourselves (e.g., using your mobile phone) how much money you would expect to get. If you now refuse the transaction because the rate suddenly changed, they will make all kinds of unjustified assertions (e.g., "I already entered it into the computer, it cannot be stopped"), but you if threaten to call the police immediately while raising your voice so that other tourists look your way, they usually will let go immediately.

It is much safer to exchange your money at a bank. Banks apply little or no commissions, and generally offer good rates, although they are slightly worse than at a (non-criminal) change bureau. Higher commissions may be applied to traveller's cheques. Old, dirty or very worn bank notes may be refused. Never exchange money out on the street. Beware of people on the street who offer high rates of exchange or who may ask you to make some change for them.

Over the past years the ATM network in Bulgaria has grown considerably, making it relatively easy to obtain cash from the numerous ATMs in Sofia, as well as in all other major cities and resorts. The national credit/debit card circuit BORICA [14], to which all ATMs in the country are hooked up, accepts VISA/Plus, Visa Electron, MasterCard/Cirrus, Maestro, American Express, Diners Club, and a number of other cards.

Prices

Prices in Bulgaria for some items are around half that of Western Europe, and good bargains are to be had on shoes and leather goods as well as other clothing. Note that clothes from famous international brands, perfumes, electronic equipment, etc. often are more expensive than in other parts of Europe.

Supermarkets

In Sofia and a few major cities you can find branches of international hypermarket chains like Kaufland, Hit, Billa, Metro, and other. There are also many local supermaket chains like Fantastiko, Familia, and Piccadilly. All Bulgarian supermarkets sell products of European quality.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Bulgaria on Wikivoyage.

Popular cities in Bulgaria

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Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. It is also the biggest city in the country with about 1.4 million citizens (including suburbs). Today, Sofia is a dynamic European capital, distinguished by its unique combination of European and Communist-style architecture as well as many beautiful Orthodox churches. ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Archaelogical Museum
  • Ivan Vazov National Theatre
  • Alexander Nevski Cathedral
  • Bulgarian Parliament
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Sunny Beach is the largest beach resort in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea Riviera. Stretching along a beautiful semicircular bay facing east. Closed to the north by the descending ridges of the Balkan Range, thus blending sea and mountain in perfect harmony.

Interesting places:

  • Sunny Beach
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Bansko is in Southwest Bulgaria. It is the birthplace of the Bulgarian revival movement.

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  • Bansko Ski Resort
  • Dobrinishte Ski Resort
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Varna is the third-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv. Commonly referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, business and university centre, seaport, and headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine.

Interesting places:

  • Varna Aquarium
  • Golden Sands Beach
  • Sea Garden
  • Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral
  • Varna Archaelogical Museum
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Sunny Beach is the largest beach resort in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea Riviera. Stretching along a beautiful semicircular bay facing east. Closed to the north by the descending ridges of the Balkan Range, thus blending sea and mountain in perfect harmony.

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Nesebar is a town in Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast. The central ancient town is full of medieval churches, and is quite beautiful. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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  • Christ Pantokrator Church
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Sarafovo is a coastal village in Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and is considered a suburb of Burgas. Known as The Beverly Hills of Bourgas, due to it's well off population, the city itself is the fourth largest in Bulgaria, with a University, pedestrianised shopping areas, pavement cafes and restaurants, ... (read more)

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States in Bulgaria

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Points of Interest in Bulgaria

There is a wide variety of historical, natural, religious and artistic sights to see in Bulgaria. All across the country there are remains of different epochs and eras, societies and peoples, spiritual and artistic personae that create a beautiful mix of ethnic culture full of unique traditions and rituals combined with a sense of belonging to the movements that have shaped the world as we know it today. The Bulgarian tourist movement, established more than one hundred years ago, has promoted the acknowledgement of all the sights that form the distinguished Bulgarian identity through its so called "100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria" program [13] that covers most of Bulgaria's must-see attractions. Of course, nowadays the program includes more than two hundred and fifty one-of-a-kind places of interest but the name still remains. Some of the most popular sites include:

  • UNESCO's World Heritage sites: Ancient City of Nessebar, Boyana church, Madara Rider stone carving, Rila Monastery, Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari being the historical, and Pirin National Park, Srebarna Nature Reserve being the natural.
  • the other great monasteries of Bulgaria that have been centres of Bulgarian culture during the Ottoman rule such as Bachkovo Monastery, Troyan Monastery, Dryanovo Monastery, Osenovlag Monastery, etc.
  • the natural creations in the Bulgarian mountains that are a combination of awe to the beautiful natural forms and the exciting feeling of danger in the face of the sharp edges and deep ravines created solely by wind and water. Some of the most popular natural creations are the caves Dyavolsko Garlo (Bulgarian: Дяволското гърло, The Devil's Throat), Ledenika (Bulgarian: Леденика, The Ice-Cold), Magurata which has cave paintings on its walls and Snezhanka (Bulgarian: Снежанка, the Snow White), the canyons of Trigrad and the river Erma, Chudnite Mostove (Bulgarian:Чудните мостове, The Curious Bridges) rock phenomena, and the natural pyramids near the town of Melnik and the ones near the village Stob.
  • the still-standing fortresses from the Middle Ages such as Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo, Baba Vida in Vidin, Tsari Mali Grad near Samokov, the Fort of Samuil near the village of Strumeshnica and the Fort of Asenevtsi near Asenovgrad.
  • the remains from the cities of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire in Sofia, Plovdiv, Nessebar, Sozopol, Razgrad and many many other cities and towns
  • the architectural historical reserves like the towns of Koprivshtitsa, Bozhentsi, or Daskalolivnitsa in the town of Elena, Plovdiv's Old Town, the Varosha neighbourhood in Blagoevgrad and the neighbourhood of Arbanasi in Veliko Tarnovo
  • the sacred places of Perperikon and Rupite, the many ancient and medieval churches in the country, and the tombs of the Thracian kings
  • the sites of historical significance for the Bulgarian people, because of the acts of those who have been on those places such as mount Shipka, mount Okolchitsa, the area Oborishte, the homes of Vasil Levski and Ivan Vazov, and the church in Batak among many other places

Bulgarian culture includes a many unique and interesting to see traditional rituals some of which have been around since pagan times and are still performed. Some of the most interesting rituals are:

  • nestinarstvo - a fire ritual originating from the villages in the mountain Strandzha that involves barefoot dancing on soldering embers. Originally it was performed on the square of some Strandzhan villages, but nowadays it can be viewed in many places throughout the country on the night of Sts. Constantine and Helen - 3 versus 4 July. It is a unique mixture of Eastern Orthodox Christian beliefs and pagan rituals in the Strandzha mountains
  • surva - a new years ritual for hood luck and health. It is performed by young children (up to the age of 12) on New Year's Day, by tapping the older than them relatives on the back with the help of a survachka (a rod made of cornel tree sticks, decorated with wool, dried fruit and pop-corn) and reciting a text for their fortune
  • kukerstvo - a traditional Bulgarian ritual performed to scare away the evil spirits. The ritual is performed by men wearing grotesque masks and clothes made out of animal furs, horns and hooves, and belts with large bells. The men are dancing, making loud sounds with the bells on their belts, chasing away the evil spirits in order to ensure a good harvest, health and good luck throughout the year. The ritual is usually done around New Year at night when "the monsters lurk"

Archaelogical Museum - Sofia

Ethnographic Museum - Plovdiv

Sozopol Beach - Sozopol

Varna Aquarium - Varna

Christ Pantokrator Church - Nessebar

SS. Forty Martyrs Church - Veliko Tarnovo

Burgas Beach - Bourgas

Sunny Beach - Sunny Beach

Regional Museum of History - Stara Zagora

Vazrazhdane Square - Pleven

Baba Vida Castle - Vidin

Rila Monastery - Rila

Musala Peak - Samokov

Sinomorets Beach - Tsarevo

Stariya Briast - The Old Elm - Sliven

Bansko Ski Resort - Bansko

Pazardzhik History Museum - Pazardzik

American University in Bulgaria - Blagoevgrad

Drama Theatre Nevena Kokanova - Yambol

Calimera Beach - Byala

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