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Bulgaria Information

 

Copyright Used by Permission Neva Micheva

Bulgaria is a country in Eastern Europe on the western side of the Black Sea. It is 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. Being located close to the Turkish Straits means the key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia pass through Bulgaria.

Sofia


The capital and a major point of interest in Bulgaria. It features nice parks, a nice town center, many bars, pubs, and disco clubs, over 250 historic landmarks and architectural monuments, and a great deal of cultural places of interest.

Sofia is a dynamic Eastern European capital, distinguished by its unique combination of European and Communist-style architecture as well as many beautiful orthodox churches. Furthermore, it claims to be one of the few European capitals with beautiful scenery and a developed ski-resort so close to it - the Vitosha mountain.

Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe with ruins spread across the city center. It was founded because of the quality of its mineral waters. In the city alone there are 7 independent mineral water springs. An interesting constellation can be seen in the city centre, where a Catholic church, an Orthodox church, a mosque and a synagogue are located at great proximity.

In the administrative center of Sofia the streets are covered with specific yellow pavement.

Churches of interest are the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral (and one of the largest orthodox churches worldwide), the Russian St. Nikolay, and the old ones St. Sofia, St. Petka, St. Georgi rotunda, St. Sedmochislenitsi, St. Paraskeva.

National Museum of History - The National Museum of History in Sofia contains more than 650,000 exhibits and is one of the largest history museums on the Balkans. The aim of the museum is to provide a comprehensive view on Bulgarian history from the prehistory to present, in as broad an European context as possible. Be prepared to spend several hours as the museum is quite large. About half of the exhibits have English captions.

Boyana Church - This small 14th-century church and garden is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The church contains some very well preserved Christian murals.

The Church of St. Sofia, which gave the city its name. It was built over an even older church which can be seen through glass in the floor.

The ruins of the ancient town of Serdica, located in the geographical centre of the city under the flags of the EU.

Plovdiv


The nation's second largest city. Boasts a lovely shopping promenade and many parks, an ancient city with a preserved amphitheater, and many "revival" style Bulgaria homes. Be sure also to take a side trip to Bachkovo Monastery which is about an hour away.

It is located in the large plain between the Rhodope Mountains in the south of Bulgaria and the Balkan Range, or Old Mountains (Stara Planina) that runs through the center of Bulgaria. Both ranges are visible on clear days. The Maritsa River flows through the city on its way southeast before forming the Greek/Turkey border to the Aegean Sea.

Plovdiv is an ancient city, with a history stretching at least 5000 years. Originally it had 7 tall hills, some of which were used for quarries. It was controlled by the Romans and was called Trimontium at that time (the Three Hills), and by Philip of Macedonia (father of Alexander the Great), lending the city another old name, Philipopolis.

The old center of Plovdiv is compact and walkable, with the main downtown road blocked to car traffic. There is a good collection of Bulgarian revival buildings in use as museums, hotels, and restaurants etc. and is worth a visit if you have chance. The nearby Roman Amphitheater, discovered in the 1970's during a construction project, is part of the pedestrian zone, and typically has merchants selling art and other items nearby. Wander the cobblestone streets near the downtown to find the centuries old St. Marina church with a unique wooden tower, a mosque from the Ottoman Empire, and on the nearby hill the old town center. The old town center was walled, and has a famous gateway entrance. Nearby Puldin Restaurant has subterranean rooms where the old wall and historic artifacts can be seen. Continuing up the hill several older houses are now museums and the Roman amphitheater with an overlook of the town below is partially restored and still used for concerts and other occasions.

To the south of the city there is the Bachkovo Monastery, still in use. Farther into the Rhodope mountains one can find ski resorts and other natural attractions, such as the impressively narrow gorge and caves leading to Trigrad, not far from the mountainous Greek border.

Varna


The nation's third largest city is a primary beach resort. The night life in Varna is notorious, especially during the summer season.

City landmarks include the Varna Archaeological Museum, exhibiting the Gold of Varna, a cache of chalcolithic grave-goods, which constitute the oldest gold treasure in the world, the large and well preserved Roman Baths, Wladyslaw Warnenczyk Park Museum, the Naval Museum, displaying the museum ship torpedo boat Drazki, the Museum of Ethnography.

The Sea Garden is the oldest and perhaps largest park containing the Varna Aquarium, the Varna Dolphinarium (opened 1984), the Nicolaus Copernicus Observatory and Planetarium], the Museum of Natural History, a terrarium, a zoo, and other attractions. The Garden is a national monument of landscape architecture.

The waterfront promenade underneath is lined by a string of beach clubs offering a vibrant (albeit noisy) scene of rock, hip-hop, American-style pop, house, and chalga (Bulgarian pop folk). The city beaches, also known as sea baths are dotted with hot sulphuric mineral springs and punctured by small sheltered marinas. Additionally, the 2.4 km long, 50 m high Asparuhov Most bridge is a popular spot for bungee jumping.

Notable old Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox churches include the metrpolitan Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral; the early 17th-century Theotokos Panagia; the St. Athanasius (former Greek etropolitan cathedral); the seamen's church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker; the Archangel Michael's
 

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