I wrote this guide for Bulgaria over 10 years ago for a tourist site. As its hosting services are closing, I am moving the info here, some might find it useful.
As we, Bulgarians ,(see Wikipedia about Bulgaria) entered the EU in january 2007 , I will try to tell you, about my lovely land. As I feel I come in the ” Great Unknown”.
Why the “Land of roses” ?( La rose est la fleur nationale des Etats-Unis. C’est également la fleur nationale de l’Angleterre (rose Tudor), de la Bulgarie, de la Finlande (rose blanche) et de l’Irak.Les roses sont originaires d’Asie. Elles sont arrivées en Europe au Moyen-Age lors du retour des croisées.) Because somewhere in a plain at the foothills of Balkan mountain, around the town of Kasanluk , there is a valley of roses….They have been grown there for centuries, to obtain rose oil, a precious substance for the western parfumerie industry.Even our national hero – Baj Ganjo*cosiders it more valuable than money, and uses it as an exchange and payment unit in his trips around the world ( he calls it “Gjul”- a turkish word)
* – Bai Ganjo is a humoristic folklore character created by one of our greatest Writers – Aleko Konstantinov.
“I love my land and hate my country” – this graffiti on a wall somewhere in Sofia remained in my mind.
Bulgaria is a beautiful land – it is small, yet it has everything you can imagine (except desert). We have the highest peak on the Balkans – Moussala 2925m, and a wide black sea coast with fine white sand.
We have 4 seasons ( lately they are blending into 2 ..)
Bulgaria is created in 681 AC – this makes over 1300 years of history which makes in one of the first countries in Europe.This is what I love
The bulgarian folklore music is another magic of our spirit…the sound of the bagpipes mixed with the multitude off female voices, floating in the air over peaks and plains, forests and rivers…..
What I hate are today’s politicians, mafia, poverty, narrow mindness, lack of perspective for growth, corruption , police……Poor Bulgarian land, how much more do you have to suffer from ignorants?
f you want to feel what I love about Bulgaria, take a look at my pages about :
See the UNESCO world heritage sites in Bulgaria – 7 cultural and 2 natural
25 APRIL 2005 -Bulgaria in EU in 2007(?). Today In Luxembourg was signed the contract that will make us in 01 january 2007 part of the United States of Europe ! Bulgaria will be the first country that brings the Cyrilic Alphabet to the European Union,making it the 3rd official alphabet after the latin and the greek ones.
Are we prepared?
Only about 25 percent of the bulgarians are speaking a foreign language ( which might be russian that we learned at school, turkish or gipsy minorities speaking their own language),and only about 29 percent have travelled beyond the boudaries of our country( Mainly to neighbouring Turkey , Yugoslavia and Greece for work or trade )…. These are statistics shown on tv today.
for a start – see an Breathtaking photo gallery of Bulgaria from Georgy Velichkov > click on the “Slideshow” for best results >Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am to be born in this land of beauty !!! and
- Pros:Bit by Bit . Piece by Piece , I’ll put my country together…
- In a nutshell:Land as big as a human’s palm…
WeatherCheck out the weather and weather forecast at
When god created the world…When god created the world, he gave to all the nations a piece of land, and when all the land was given ,came the Bulgarian who was always late. God looked at him and said : “You are late – I gave away everything”.
But he reached with his hand, took a piece of heaven and gave it to him…
BulgariaBulgaria is located on the Balkan peninsula,in the southeast of Europe , between Romania at the north, Serbia and Montenegro and Republic of Macedonia at the west and Greece and Turkey at the South. The whole east side of the country is occupied by the Black Sea Coast.
Bulgaria’s territory covers an area of
110 994 Square Kilometers ( 111, 0001.9 km2 according to Wikipedia ,from which 0,3% water )
population – 7 973 671 inhabitants in 2001,
7 537 929 in 2003
Density – 67.9 km2
67% of which are living in the cities.
( 83,5 % bulgarians, 9,5 % Roma or Gipsies ,4,6 % Turkish ,1,5 % others – Russians ,Armenians , Greeks )
Religion – 85,7% Christian Orthodox, 13,1% muslims and other
Illetrate rate 2001 – 1% male , 2% female population
Independece from the Ottoman Empire
Gained autonomy – 3 march 1878
Declared – 22 september 1908
Republic since 1990. Constitution since 1991, Parlament with 240 participants that are elected every 4 years.
Curency – Bulgarian Lev
City Population / 2001
Sofia – 1 096 289 inhabitants
Plovdiv – 340 638 inhabitants
Varna 413 539 inhabitants
Burgas 193 316 inhabitants
Ruse 162 128 inhabitants
Stara Zagora 143 989inhabitants
Pleven 122 149 inhabitants
Sliven 100 695 inhabitants
Dobric 100 379 inhabitants
Old Cyrilic Alphabet
Cyrilic AlphabetIf you plan to come to explore Bulgaria, it will be a great idea to learn at least the Cyrilic Alphabet,so that you don’t feel that lost with directions. Do not expect to find signs in Latin ,they are rare. Unless you are a package tourist ,but you wouldn’t be reading this probably ,because the travel agency would have taken care of everything.Most of the times you won’t be able even to read the menu in the resaurant in non touristic areas. And the chance the waiter / waitress speak english is not big either.
On the 24th of may we celebrate the Day of the Slavic Alphabet and its creators – the Brothers Cyril and Methodii.
As the newspaper reminded me a few days ago , the Cyrillic alphabet is a fully recognized and integrated as in the EU structures.
http://free.hit.bg/injinera/na4alo.htm – cyrilize your PC
Directions: http://www.eurodict.com/download-0.html > download a dictionnary from/ to bulgarian in your language.
Sofia – the capitalSofia (See my extended Sofia guide for all there is to do and see my hometown , is the biggest city in Bulgaria and the political , econimical and cultural center of the country. It is situated in the western part of Bulgaria in the Sofia plain at the foothills of Vitosha mountain and surrounded by Liulin, Plana and the Chain of Stara Planina ( meaning Old Mountain or the “Balkan mountain” as It is known in our songs and legends ).
Through the city are running the waters of Vladaiska,Perlovska ( called “kanala” – the channel) and Suhodolska rivers . The altitude of the town is 550m , covered area – 160, 032 sq km ,population over 1milion.
Sofia is one of the most ancient cities in Europe. The oldest settlements found on its territory belong to the first part of the neolite – IV BC….
somewhere in the ancient pine forest
The two days hiking trip through Rila Mountain is a unforgettable experience if you can put some time on the side. Preferably done in summer , as snow lasts long at that altitude.
The starting point is the town of Samokov ,where a small bus will take you to Govedartzi – where begins your two days hike. a steep climb trough sky high pine trees and crossing some inhabited or abandonned small chalets, gradually changes to bushes and low pines as you reach higher altitude. than comes alpine meadows covered with smelling aroma herbs and cascading little rivers.
Somewhere there ,you have reached the first of totally seven Rila lakes. Glacial by origin ,they are situated in crevasses escalating the mountain and having all different names – the highest one is called “the tear”because of its clear waters that allow visibitity into its depths. By the first lake you will find the old chalet where you can spend the night , or if you want more comfort,you can go to the new chalet ,located a little bit lower on the side.
The next day,stand up early in the morning as a long hike is ahead of you – you have to pass the ridge of the mountain. As you climb up , you will gradually reveal all 7 lakes.The area is considered holy by the “white brotherhood” that gathers here every year to dance paneurithmes – the dance and music of the universe.
Wild herds of horses inhabit the high rila meadows and if you are lucky , you will meet them.
to be continued…
Address: Rila Mountain
Directions: See Seven Rila Lakes in National Rila Park, Bulgaria and Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria for more info
The Monastery of Rila
The Monastery of RilaKeeper of the Bulgarian soul and spirit during the 500 years of Ottoman Occupation, the Rila Monastery is a marvel in the heart of our highest mointain. The holy Monastery of Saint Ivan Rilski, the guardian of Bulgarians , has a long and turbulent history , just like our small and glorious land. Located 120km from Sofia.
The snowy peaks of Balkans range in april
In the LandIt is worth to take a bus or travel by car from Sofia to the sea / Varna in this case/ for the magnificent vews and landscapes. You will see the snow covered peaks of the Balkans mountain range, herds of cows and sheeps , little vilages on the way , plains spreading around as you approach the sea…
Plovdiv Old Town – A house above the Amphitheater
The Cathedral of Varna
Varna – our Sea CapitalVarna is an important administrative, economic and cultural center, the Largest Bulgarian seaport and a well known international resort. It was fonded in c.6 BC as a Greek city-state under the name of Odessos , which means “city by water”. It soon became one of the most signigicant ports and trade centers of the Black Sea region. It was annexed to the kingdom of Alexander the Great for several decades and regained its independance after his death. The city was annexed to the Roman Empire in15AD. This was the time of its economic and cultural flourishing. The name “Varna” came into use after the Slav invasions in c.6-7 AD. The city was part of the Bulgarian kingdom by the end of c.8 . After numerous wars between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire , King Kaloyan permanetly annexed Varna to the Bulgarian kingdom in 1201 and the city became an important fortress and seaport untill the Ottoman conquest.
Varna was officially proclaimed a seaside resort in 1921.
The climate is similar to the Mediterranean and is suitable for balneological treatment.
Directions: North Black sea coast
If you have some free time, make sure to visit a museum town in your area.Museum towns have kept the bulgarian spirit and traditions through the years. There you will see preserved architecture,hand crafts, small taverns with delicious home made cuisine.
I will try to make a page about each one ,please be patient.
To start with , take a look my pages of:
Nessebar – A Unique peninsula on our Black Sea coast – part of UNESCO world heritage – top 5 page
Melnik – wine traditions among natural sand pyramids
Zheravna – The birthplace of Iordan Iovkov
Bansko the new booming ski resort
Renaissance Architecture in Assenovgrad Bulgaria
Museum Towns – places where time has stopped some centuries ago. It’s soo nice to get the feeling of what Bulgaria used to be before Communism came with its enormous marble square and pathetic buildings …..to walk on the stone covered small streets, Among the centuries old houses and high fences, the tiny wooden windows that were guarding their inhabitants from unwanted eyes,places where the building of a house starts by the high stone fences ( called “douvar”)….To feel the real bulgarian spirit , traditions and history….
The most famous Renaissance towns are Koprivshtitza and the old town of Plovdiv.
Jeravna – Filaretov Museum
02 july 2006 I visited Jeravna – a beautiful museum town nestled in the eastern Balkans.
This is the bedroom of the Filaretov house. The woman in charge of the museum explained everybody was sleeping on the carpets together. The metal object in the center was used to put charcoal bits from the chimney to warm up. As at the time glass was not used for the windows,they had wooden carved bars to protect the inhabitants.
An expression of the talent and vision of beauty of the local craftsman ,the interior of the renaissance houses is just as colorful as the facades. Hand carved wooden ceillings ,forming intricate cirlcles or sun, hand weaven colorful carpets , wall frescoes…
Room location – Rila Monastery – UNESCO heritage site
Nessebar – and “Captain’s Meeting” restaurant
There is something really special about that place that moves me every time I get to walk the tiny paved streets cut into high fences , breath the humid sea air and feel the breeze in my face….
Nessebar – part of the UNESCO world heritage and a museum town
Monasteries in Bulgaria
While western Europe was busy building castles for their rulers ,Eastern Europe was building monasteries to educate the people ,preserve the nationality and spread the eastern orthodox religion.
Monasteries are cradles of the bulgarian culture,that preserved the bulgarian spirit,culture and traditions through the long and dark years of the Ottoman empire. They were refuge for fighters for freedom, that were hiding behind their walls from the Turks
The jewel of the crown is Rila Monastery – UNESCO heritage site– See my fabulous page about this enchanting place.
Other monasteries I have written about are Bachkovo Monastery
Thracian Golden Treasures
The Panagyurishte golden treasure is one of the most precious found in our lands. As for most of treasures,its discovery happened accidently back in 1949, when 3 brothers were digging the soil to get material for tiles. They thought finding music instruments that they washed in the nearby river. After, the treasure was guarded in the Plovdiv archeological museum as its most precious possession ever.The finely carved objects are from pure gold and weigth alltogether 6,164 kg. It belongs to the Thracian culture – dating from end of IV and beginning of III century.A thracian ruler was decorating his guest table with it.
“Along with many others treasures from the Thracian period found in our lands,the the panagyurishte treasure is confirming the stories of ancient greek writers and historians saying that Thracians, along with horses and wine, loved the most golden accessories and jewelry. They provided themselves with treasures by times of war, as gifts from other lands or ….by king’s order” – writes in his book”Fifteen treasures from the Bulgarian lands” the bulgarian writer Dimitar Ovcharov.The thracian rulers had a cult peception about gold ,differing from the that of neighbouring greeks.Gold was a symbol of wealth – one of the requirements that a king has to possess, according to the thracian mythological system.That’s why they were guarding it, using it in sacred rituals and buried it into the ground to protect it from the invaders.
Directions: The Panagyurishte Golden Treasure along with the Vulchitrun and other important founds are on display for the summer 2006 in the Archeological Museum in Varna to celebrate 100 anniversary of the Museum
Perpericon Temple Complex
In our rich of history lands have been found alot of treasures and ancient towns .
Archeologists have searched for more than a century in the Rhodopa mountains the remains of the famous Thracian temple ,where Dionysus had its Oracle.More and more facts lead to beleive that this is the temple complex of Perperikon – the biggest megalith in Europe,discovered just some years ago in the Rhodopa mountains .The earliest finds at Perperikon hill are dated from the late Neolithic period – 6th-5th millenium BC – some 8000 years ago ( !!! )
Visit the official Perperikon site and choose the flash version for a mystic trip in our ancient lands , legends,pagean history and music.
Excavation work had just started, and they keep on discovering tombs temples etc there every day..
10 Bulgarian Leva = 5 euros
1 lev = 100 stotinki