Bulgaria is a Balkan nation with diverse terrain encompassing Black Sea coastline, a mountainous interior and rivers, including the Danube. A cultural melting pot with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman, and Persian influences, it has a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes, and crafts. At the foot of domed Vitosha mountain is its capital city, Sofia, dating to the 5th century B.C
Bulgaria is a developing country, with an upper-middle-income economy, ranking 56th in the Human Development Index. Its market economy is part of the European Single Market and is largely based on services, followed by industry—especially machine building and mining—and agriculture. Widespread corruption is a major socioeconomic issue; Bulgaria ranked as the most corrupt country in the European Union in 2018. The country also faces a demographic crisis, with its population shrinking annually since around 1990; it currently numbers roughly seven million, down from a peak of nearly nine million in 1988. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; it is also a founding member of the OSCE, and has taken a seat on the United Nations Security Council three times.
Burgas is a city on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. At its heart, the Church of Saint Cyril and Methodius is known for striking stained-glass windows over its main entrance. Nearby, the Ethnographic Museum explores Bulgarian folk culture, with colorful costumes and everyday items. Along Burgas Bay is the Sea Garden, with broad promenades, performances at its Summer Theatre and a viewing platform at the end of its pier.
A similar literal composition have the cities Burgos in Spain and numerous cities containing the Germanic burg “city” such as Hamburg. It is widely considered, including by the city’s official website, that the name of the city is derived from the Latin word “burgus” as meaning a “tower”, after a local ancient Roman travel post, which used to be in the area of today’s Burgas Port. 15 centuries later, the settlement was mentioned by the Byzantine poet Manuel Phil as “Pyrgos” (Greek: Πύργος), a word identical in meaning with the Greek word for tower. The name passed to Bulgarian through the Turkish Burgaz. There are several alternative explanations for the name’s origin. By one of them, the city’s name comes from Gothic name “baurgs” as meaning “signified consolidated walled villages”.According to Bulgarian prof. Kiril Vlahov, the name of the city comes from the Thracian word “pyurg” as meaning “fortification of wooden beams”. It is also suggested that the name ultimately comes from the name of khan Burtaz (683-633 BC).
Sozopol is an ancient seaside town located 35 km south of Burgas on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Today it is one of the major seaside resorts in the country, known for the Apollonia art and film festival that is named after one of the town’s ancient names.
Sozopol is one of the oldest towns on Bulgarian Thrace’s Black Sea coast. The first settlement on the site dates back to the Bronze Age. Undersea explorations in the region of the port reveal relics of dwellings, ceramic pottery, stone and bone tools from that era. Many anchors from the second and first millennium BC have been discovered in the town’s bay, a proof of active shipping since ancient times.
The town was founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists from Miletus as Antheia (Ancient Greek: Ἄνθεια). The town established itself as a trade and naval centre in the following centuries and became one of the largest and richest Greek colonies in the Black Sea region. Its trade influence in the Thracian territories was based on a treaty dating from the fifth century BC with the Odrysian kingdom, the most powerful Thracian state. Apollonia became a legendary trading rival of another Greek colony, Mesembria, today’s Nessebar.
Veliko Tarnovo is a town in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. in 2013, 450,000 tourists visited the city. The most popular landmark is the historic hill Tsarevets, which held the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. A number of other sites also attract tourists, including the historic hill Trapezitza, the Samovodskata Charshiya, numerous medieval and Bulgarian Renaissance churches, and the ancient Roman fortress of Nicopolis ad Istrum.
Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, with a history of more than five millennia. The first traces of human presence, dating from the 3rd millennium BC, were discovered on Trapezitsa Hill.
Today, Veliko Tarnovo is the center of one of the largest urban areas in Bulgaria and is one of the few cities in the country with a growing population.It is a foremost educational and cultural center, and the home of two major universities and extensive artistic activity. The city is a leading tourist attraction, boasting a steady increase in visitors for the last two decades. During the same period, it has also consistently attracted foreign settlers, and today, the city and its surroundings have become the home of the largest foreign expat community in Bulgaria. In the late 1990s the southern road junction was completed. In 2007 the construction of residential district Veliko Tarnovo began. In 2019 the city was declared the historical and spiritual capital of Bulgaria.
Varna is a port city and seaside resort on Bulgaria’s Black Sea, next to the coastal resorts of Golden Sands, St. Konstantin and Albena. It’s famous for the “Gold of Varna,” 6,000-year-old Thracian jewelry discovered in a necropolis, which is displayed inside the Archaeological Museum, along with Greek, Roman and Ottoman antiquities. A bar-lined waterfront promenade fronts 19th-century Primorski Park.
arna is Bulgaria’s third largest city, and its most sophisticated seaside city. Like Bulgaria’s other coastal towns, Varna is also steeped in history. The Varna Archaeological Museum has impressive gold exhibits featuring the world’s oldest gold, which was sourced from the area. Otherwise, the Roman Baths are an impressive attraction, which are the largest in Bulgaria.
Other striking landmarks, dotted around the city give life to Varnas long history. These include the Baroque Opera House and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin. There are three main beaches which are frequented in the area. These offer all the joys of beach living, such as seaside restaurants and bars, adventure sports, and loungers.
Nessebar is a town in Burgas Province, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The cobbled streets of the old town, which sits on a promontory, are lined with ruins such as Byzantine-era fortifications and baths. The ruins of the 5th-century Church of St. Sofia include stone columns and large arched windows. The 11th-century Church of St. Stephen houses hundreds of mural paintings and a huge, richly decorated altarpiece.
Nesebar is known for its beautiful ruins, and superb beaches. The ancient part of the town is situated on a island connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made causeway, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilizations over the course of its existence.
The many churches that remain are mostly in ruins, but still a joy to explore. The most famous churches within the city include St.Stefan Church which dates back to the 11th century and The Church of Christ Pantocrator, which was created in the 13th century. The last being a great example of medieval architecture, as it is very well preserved.
The Monastery of Saint John of Rila, also known as Rila Monastery “Sveti Ivan Rilski”, is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.
It is traditionally thought that the monastery was founded by the hermit St. Ivan of Rila, whose name it bears, during the rule of Tsar Peter I (927-968). The hermit actually lived in a cave without any material possessions not far from the monastery’s location, while the complex was built by his students, who came to the mountains to receive their education.
Ever since its creation, the Rila Monastery has been supported and respected by the Bulgarian rulers. Large donations were made by almost every tsar of the Second Bulgarian Empire up until the Ottoman Conquest, making the monastery a cultural and spiritual centre of Bulgarian national consciousness that reached its apogee from the 12th to the 14th century.
Tucked in the Rila Mountains, Rila Monastery is simply stunning. It was initially founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila, a hermit. Hundreds of pilgrims, and tourists come to the visit the site every year, and for centuries it has been a site of extreme spiritual significance.
The monastery even holds a few secrets of its own. It is said that revolutionary leaders took refuge here at times including the infamous Vassil Levski, and Peyo Yavorov. It has played an important role in preserving Bulgarian literary culture since the onsite library holds approximately 250 manuscripts from the 11th century onwards to the 19th century.
Plovdiv is an ancient city built around 7 hills, in southern Bulgaria. The Regional Archaeological Museum chronicles the city’s history, with exhibits including mosaic panels, clay lamps and early coins. The Roman-era Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis, which once seated around 6,000, now hosts opera and concerts. A 3D movie at the Emperor Hadrian–era Ancient Stadium re-creates Plovdiv in the 2nd century A.D.
There are many preserved ruins such as the ancient Plovdiv Roman theatre, a Roman odeon, a Roman aqueduct, the Plovdiv Roman Stadium, the archaeological complex Eirene, and others. Plovdiv is host to a huge variety of cultural events such as the International Fair Plovdiv, the international theatrical festival “A stage on a crossroad”, the TV festival “The golden chest”, and many more novel festivals, such as Night/Plovdiv in September, Kapana Fest, and Opera Open. The oldest American educational institution outside the United States, the American College of Sofia, was founded in Plovdiv in 1860 and later moved to Sofia.
The city itself was built on seven hills, and the surrounding area is draped in the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope mountain range, which have become a favorite place for visitors and locals alike to hike and explore.
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