Known for its cuisine, friendly atmosphere, ancient ruins, villages, soaring mountains and sunny beaches, Bulgaria is undoubtedly included in the list of the best tourist destinations in Europe. In addition to the bright sun and warm sea, Bulgaria is rich in sights and monuments of the cultural heritage of the whole world. Some of them will be discussed below.
Natural and archaeological reserve at Cape Kaliakra
Location: 12 km east of the town of Kvarana, 60 km north-east of Varna.
Kaliakra is a long narrow cape in the southeastern part of the Dobrudzhansky plateau. The coast of the cape is distinguished by steep cliffs almost vertically hanging over the sea - their height reaches 70 m.
Kaliakra is a natural and archaeological reserve where you can observe dolphins, cormorants and pinnipeds in their natural habitat. It also presents the remains of fortified walls, running water, baths and the residence of the ruler of the Dobrudzhansky despot Dobrotitsa, who once moved the capital from Kavarna.
The eponymous fortress of the end of the 14th century became a symbol of this place after it played a decisive role in the naval battle of 1791 between the Russian and Turkish fleets. This battle determined the success of Russian soldiers in the Russian-Turkish war.
Also at the very tip of the cape is a small chapel of St. Nicholas.
Interesting Facts: The destroyer of the Russian Imperial Navy was named “Kaliakria” in honor of the victory won by Admiral Ushakov over the Turkish-Algerian fleet during the Russian-Turkish war.
The main fortress Tsarevets medieval capital - Veliko Tarnovo
Location: Veliko Tarnovo.
In the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom from 1185 to 1395 Bulgaria was the largest and most powerful state in Southeast Europe, and Tsarevets was the main fortress of the medieval capital, Veliko Tarnovo.
During the first centuries of Roman rule, the ancient settlement was deserted, but, according to archaeological data, it was inhabited as early as the 2nd millennium BC. After a long desolation, this place became a strongly fortified early Byzantine city by the 5th century.
In the XII century on the tops of the foundations of this early Byzantine city and was erected a medieval fortress. Partial restoration is taking place here these days, although the entire fort has already been well studied. Visiting tourists can easily observe how the fort, consisting of massive stone walls, gates and towers, was able to survive many different periods throughout its history.
Interesting Facts: On the territory of the fortress were the royal chambers and the Palace of the Patriarch of the Bulgarian church.
The Medieval city of Nessebar
Location: 37 km north of the city of Burgas.
Located on a rocky peninsula, on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, the ancient city of Nessebar, which has more than 3000 years of history, was originally a Thracian settlement of Mesebrias.
At the beginning of the VI. BC. settlement becomes a Greek colony. The remains of the city, which mainly belong to the Hellenistic period, include the acropolis, the temple of Apollo, Agora and the wall of the Thracian fortifications. Other most valuable historical monuments - the Basilica of St. Sophia (the Old Metropolis) and the fortress itself - belong to the Middle Ages, a time when it was one of the most important Byzantine cities on the west coast of the Black Sea. Wooden houses built in the 19th century are typical of the Black Sea architecture of the time.
The city is surrounded on three sides by the sea, and tourists can get here only along a narrow isthmus 400 m wide.
Interesting Facts: Almost half of the ancient city went under water. In 1983, the area of the old town of Nessebar was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Monument of Slavic cultural identity of the Bulgarian language - Rila Monastery
Location: 117 km south of Sofia in the valley of the Rila River.
The Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and grave became holy places and turned into a monastic complex, which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. Being a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance, the monument symbolizes the awareness of Slavic cultural identity after centuries of occupation. During the Ottoman rule, the monastery acted as guardian of the Bulgarian language and culture.
Nowadays, the Rila Monastery is the largest Stavropegic Monastery of the Bulgarian Church. For tourists, this place will be especially interesting due to the local monastic museum, which houses the famous Cross of Raphael - a unique example of woodcarving, which depicts 104 religious scenes and 650 miniature figures.
Interesting Facts: On the territory of the monastery is also located a natural national park famous for its landscapes and interesting tourist routes.
Rock formation of curious outlines and forms - Belogradchik cliffs
Location: near the town of Belogradchik, on the western slope of the Stara Planina mountain.
The Belogradchik Rocks is a unique natural phenomenon, claiming to be one of the new 7 wonders of the world. The height of the rocks reaches 200 m, but their main feature is this indicator and curious outlines and forms, thanks to which almost every rock formation has got its name. Here, tourists can meet the “Madonna”, “Horseman”, “Monks”, “Bee Stone”, “Momin Rock”, “Zbegovet”, “Camel”, “Goddess Bendida” and many other fancy rocks. Some really resemble someone's faces, others look like giant sphinxes, and others look like domes of mosques.
All rocks are divided into five groups depending on location. Most of them were formed over many hundreds of millions of years, being under the influence of erosion, denudation, growth of moss and lichen, and other natural factors.
Nowadays, these places are the main tourist attraction of the region, along with the city of Belogradchik and the eponymous fortress.
Interesting Facts. The length of the rock complex is almost 30 km from west to east.
The center of land use of classical antique era - Villa Armira
Location: 4 km southwest of the city of Ivaylovgrad.
Villa Armira is one of the earliest and best-preserved samples of a suburban Roman villa in Bulgaria. It is an outstanding architectural monument with more than 2000 years of history.
This is a luxurious private house (and in fact - the palace) of the classical ancient era, discovered in the Bulgarian lands. The villa was the center of land use, founded by a Thracian rich aristocratic family. The excavation of the mound near the village of Great Svirachi in 2001-2002. made a great contribution to the evidence of the Thracian origin of the villa; its first owner was the successor to the Thracian king. He received citizenship for cooperation with Rome and, thus, the authorities allowed him to create a farm and build a villa in the years 50-70. I century AD
Of particular value to the villa gives a well-preserved mosaic floor with Roman, Greek and Thracian elements.
Interesting Facts:The villa has been inhabited for at least 300 years.
The center of theatrical performances as well as for gladiatorial and hunting games - ancient theater
Location: in the old town of Plovdiv.
Located on the southern slope of the Three Hills, in the saddle between Taksim and Dzhambaz, discovered by archaeologists from Plovdiv and reconstructed in the early 80s of the 20th century, the ancient theater "Philipopolis" is one of the most well-preserved ancient Roman theaters in the world.
The long-found and decoded inscription on the monumental pedestal proves that the theater was built in the 90s. I century AD, when Philipopolis was ruled by Titus Flavius Kotis - the heir to the Thracian royal dynasty, the high priest of the province of Trakia, a representative of the capital's court and the person responsible for the construction sites.
The area of the auditorium of this ancient theater includes 28 concentric rows of marble seats surrounding the stage orchestra, which has a horseshoe shape with a diameter of 26.64 m. In addition to theatrical performances, this location was used for gladiatorial and hunting games, as well as the venue of the General Assembly Roman province of Thrace.
Interesting Facts: The theater was used for its intended purpose until the end of the 4th century and contained about 6,000 spectators.
Natural beauty and unusual names are characteristic of seven Rila lakes.
Location: the nearest town is Sapareva Banya.
The group of lakes of glacial origin, located in the north-western mountains of Rila, and is the most visited attraction in Bulgaria.
The popularity of the lakes is due to their natural beauty and unusual names, each of which is associated with a characteristic feature of a particular lake. The highest - "Tear" - is about 2500 m above sea level. It received its name because of the purest water, which allows you to see far into the lake. The lowest is called “Lower Lake” (not surprisingly) and is located at an altitude of 2100 m. Between them are “Twins” (the largest lake in area), “Eye” (in form represents an oval), “Kidney”, “Fish Lake” (the smallest) and "Shamrock" (with the correct form and low shores). The Eye is the deepest lake in the group, reaching a depth of 37.5 meters. “Kidneys” occupies the largest area.
Interesting Facts: To the lakes you can climb the cable car or walk from the Rila Monastery.
The summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria and the Botanical Garden are combined into an architectural and park complex
The palace and botanical garden in Balchik have united into an architectural and park complex, which is a real paradise and an overpowered tourist attraction on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The complex was designed as the summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria (1875-1938).
The palace was designed by Italian architects; construction work began in 1924. One of the first buildings to be built was the queen’s villa “Tenha Yuvah” (“Lonely Nest”). In the following years, new villas, an Orthodox chapel, a nympheum inside Parisian patios, a traditional Renaissance house and fountains decorated with small marble images of mythological characters were erected.
During the construction of the complex used a combination of different architectural styles.
In 2007, archaeologists discovered here a well-preserved temple, built in 280-260 years. BC. Phrygian goddess of fertility Kibele.
The complex of churches, chapels, monasteries, cells, carved into the rocks, near the village of Ivanovo
Location: 21 km south of the city of Ruse near the village of Ivanovo.
In the valley of the river Rusensky Lom in northeastern Bulgaria near the village of Ivanovo there is a famous complex of churches, chapels and monasteries carved into the rocks. It was here, starting from the XII century, the first hermits began to cut their cells. A total of about 40 churches, chapels, monasteries, and about 300 cells were carved into the rocks.
Fragments of local frescoes of the XIV century also testify to the exceptional skill of local artists belonging to the Tarnovo school of painting.
Interesting Facts: The five churches of the complex preserved frescoes of the XIII-XIV centuries, which are a unique example of the medieval Bulgarian murals.