Those who know Bulgaria are well aware of its natural wealth. Abundant springs of mineral water, lush hills and steep mountains, lakes and vast plains. Fields of grapes and sunflowers stretch until the horizon and beaches reach into the blue waters. Subterranean, the country is also blessed with various assets. Its caves are truly marvellous and each have their unique characteristics. Caves in Bulgaria tend to have many interesting legends attached to them. Likewise, they have been given beautiful names such as ‘Snezhanka’, meaning ‘Snowwhite’. One of Bulgaria’s most beautiful is the ‘Devil’s Throat Cave’, described in this article. Има още
The Buzludzha monument can be seen from far away in the Valley of Roses, in Central Bulgaria. This striking monument is Buzludzha, the biggest ideological building in Bulgaria. It represents an enormous Soviet spaceship and was built in 1981. It looks like it has come straight out of sci-fi, and was evidently designed to represent an intended future of greatness that never came. The contrast could not be bigger – the building has been in disuse and decay since the fall of communism. The surreal design, the view of the hills and miles and miles of vast emptiness, make a visit to this relic of past times very impressive.
Ask a novice traveler to describe the Balkan Peninsula, and you’ll likely encounter blank stares, quizzical looks and the ever-echoing “Waaait… where?”
But just because this land of lush mountains, sparkling seas and fluffy AF bread knots isn’t popular with Americans does NOT mean it should be tossed from your bucket list. Bulgaria, in particular, is the perfect place to start your Balkan adventure.
Confused? Allow us to explain…
My first visit to Sofia was by train from Bucharest, in 2012. I still remember the nature I passed before reaching the capital. Having been in Sofia for just a day, my curiosity was triggered to discover more. I never expected to live in Sofia only two years later. While still in the Netherlands, I wanted to pursue a new challenge and move abroad. Sofia attracted me because it is relatively calm – not too small and not too large.
Beautiful Stara Zagora, in Central Bulgaria, is known for its straight boulevards and the linden trees that line them. It is an important national center and culturally, the city has long been a major spot for the whole of the country. Many poets, such as Geo Milev, had their roots in the region. Besides, Stara Zagora featured the first opera house outside of Sofia. It is a very pleasant city to spend a couple of days in, it might surprise visitors with its colourful buildings and the linden trees that change their colours as the seasons pass. While strolling the center on a sunny day, you can’t help but notice the young crowd. Stara Zagora is a laid-back and cool city. Besides, its roots are ancient and it is one of Europe’s oldest cities – even older than Plovdiv.
In the eastern Rhodope mountains is the city of Kardzhali, 260 kilometres from Sofia. It has an interesting position in the country, directly at the Kardzhali Reservoir and Studen Kladenets Reservoir. Besides, it is surrounded by the Rhodope mountains and many other sights such as the Devil’s Bridge and Perperikon, the former residence of a Thracian king. Its central location makes it a historically significant city. The area has been inhabited since the Neolothic. However, Kardzhali is quite remote as opposed to other towns in the central valley, such as Stara Zagora. Kardzhali is directly in the mountains, which were used to build castles and fortresses that still have remains. During the Ottoman rule, the town got named after leader Kırca Ali, from which Kardzhali derives.
In the Southeast of Bulgaria, bordering Greece, some remote villages have been left to decay. The villages depopulated when people moved in search of better perspectives. Where people used to live, where they went to school, worked, fell in love and built families, is today an area that is being forgotten. It’s like the people’s presence never mattered. And that everything would return to nature regardless. Decay is merciless. It hauntingly shows that life goes on and time cannot be stopped.
Just like many cities, Sofia has its fair share of large apartment blocks. These kinds of blocks are an integral part of many Bulgarian and foreign cities; all the way from Berlin to Vladivostok in Russia. Many blocks seem virtually identical but country-specific differences can be seen in their design. In Sofia, residential blocks are found in many areas and house a large part of the city’s residents. Each block looks the same to an outsider but if you look closer or go inside, they have a whole life of their own.
As one of Bulgaria’s main symbols, the country’s largest monastery is a must-see. It has eye-catching architecture, rich details and a long history. Together with the mountainous surroundings, it is a beautiful place to pay a visit to. As you approach the monastery, it appears to be like a large fortress, because of its tall walls. As you enter the gates, its beauty is striking. This monastery was founded by Ivan of Rila (Ivan Rilski), who was a hermit living in a cave in the nearby area. He had close to no possessions but he was known to educate pupils.
Vidin is a city in northern Bulgaria, situated along the Danube river bordering Romania. Besides, Vidin is quite near the Serbian border as well. Vidin has always been a crossroads of routes heading in all directions. The city has a new bridge crossing the Danube to Romania, which is very convenient for trucks making their way through this part of the Balkans.