Bulgaria is among the most attractive East European tourist destinations because of the country’s amazing natural beauties, fantastic vacation opportunities and favorable weather. Let’s take a closer look at Bulgaria’s natural and cultural treasures to understand why they attract an increasing number of tourists each year.
Bulgaria is a small country located in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. Danube River is a natural border that separates it from Romania in north. The Black Sea is its east border. The country has a common southern boundary with Greece and Turkey and a western boundary with Serbia and Macedonia. Bulgaria is on the crossroad between three continents – Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Bulgaria is situated in a temperate climate zone that is closer to the Equator. This makes it a preferred summer destination for people, who live in countries that are closer to the pole. The favorable climate supports fertile soil and varied flora and fauna species. In very rare cases some tropical or arctic currents can pass through the country, so the average annual temperature is between 10° and 14°С. January is the coldest month with temperatures between 0° and 2°С and -11°С at the highest point in Bulgaria, Musala peak. The hottest months are July and August with average temperatures of 21 – 24°С.
Bulgarian nature consists of highly diverse landscape that includes plains, lowlands, foothills, mountains, river valleys, plateaus, and basins. One thirty of the territory is mountainous, which is a wonderful opportunity for the lovers of winter vacations to enjoy a week or so at crystal fresh air surrounded by snow and ski lovers or opt there for summer hiking.
The biggest mountain in Bulgaria is located in the center of the country and is called Stara Planina. The highest mountain is Rila (2,925 m at Musala peak), but Pirin and Rhodope ranges are not less attractive. The diverse landscape offers a great number of natural landmarks for tourists to visit, such as alpine lakes, waterfalls, and caves.
Bulgaria is a witness of great and important events that had occurred on its territory. This land has been inhabited since hoary antiquity, which fact is proved by multiple ancient burial mounds and settlements that are found here. The Chalcholite necropolis located near Varna contains the oldest gold ornament in the world that testifies for the earliest civilizations in Europe.
There are valuable cultural monuments inherited from the Ancient Thrace, such as temples and sanctuaries in Kozi Gramadi, Starosel, Perperikon, Begliktash; Valchitransko, Rogozensko and Panagyursko treasures; and tombs in Sveshtare, and Kazanlak, to name a few. The Roman Empire has taken possession of this land in the middle of the 1 century AD. From this period, people can see the well-preserved architectural and archaeological monuments like the Roman Stadium and Ancient Theater in Plovdiv, as well as the remains of the Nikopolis ad Istrum, Augusta Trayana, Nikopolis ad Nestum, Abritus, Nove, Ulpia Escus and other Roman cities. The Roman Empire dissolution led to East Roman Empire and later Byzantium control of these lands until the second half of the 7th century, when this territory is settled by proto-Bulgarians, who together with the Slavs formed the Bulgarian state. The new country is officially recognized by Byzantium in 681. This year is considered as a beginning of Bulgaria’s existence. The head of the newly formed state was Han Asparuh, who declared Pliska as a capital. The country accepted Christianity in 864 when Prince Boris I made it an official religion.
The brothers Cyril and Methodius have created the Slavonic alphabet used not only in Bulgaria, but also in Macedonia, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus up to present days. The Golden Age for Bulgaria has been during the reign of Tsar Simeon I, when the state borders reached three seas – Black Sea, Adriatic Sea, and Aegean Sea in the beginning of the 10th century before being conquered by Byzantium in 1018. This yoke was followed by more awful one in the end on the 14th century when Bulgaria was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The country was under the Ottoman yoke for 400 years up till 1878 when Russia helped the country to defeat Turkey.
Bulgaria is a democratic country since 1989, when a new constitution was adopted after a long period of communism. The country is a member of NATO since 2004 and the European Union since 2005.
State Structure and Economy
Bulgaria is currently a self-governed Parliamentary Republic. The country’s official language is Bulgarian and Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the official religion. The flag is three colored containing white, green and red horizontally laid strips. The state emblem is a golden lion placed on a shield-shaped background.
Sofia, which is the biggest city in the country with a population of over 2 million people, is the capital of Bulgaria. People of any race, national origin, education, religion, ethnic, etc. have equal rights before the law. Based on the statistics from 01.02.2011, the current population of Bulgaria is 7,351,234. Among the products Bulgaria is famous with are rose oil products, dairy products, yoghurt, brandies, as well as wines.
Lifestyle and Culture
Apart from ancient settlements and tombs in different regions of Bulgaria mentioned above, there are many other interesting places to visit that will reveal much information about typical local culture and lifestyle. Architectural reserves that preserve a large number of Bulgarian architecture monuments from the Revival are Tryavna, Koprivshtitsa, Zheravna, Bozhentsi, Melnik, Bansko, and more. Tourists interested in ethnography, should visit Zlatograd, Old Dobrich and Etara, which are open-air ethnographic complexes with Bulgarian handicrafts and customs that have been passed down from one generation to another.
The monasteries have been educational centers, which preserved Bulgarian spirit through the hardest times for Bulgarian people. Bachkovo Monastery, Rila Monastery, Zemen Monastery, Kilifarevo Monastery, Glozhene Monastery, Shipchenski Monastery, and more can transfer visitors in the period of Revival, which was between 17 and 19 centuries.
Among the typical Bulgarian dishes are stews, breadstuffs, different salads, like Shepherd’s Salad, Snezhanka, Dobrudzha Salad, Monk’s Salad, etc. mekitsas that are fried dough pieces, usually served for breakfast, banitsa, Tarator, which is a cold soup from cucumbers and yogurt, kebapches, meat balls, grilled sausages, grilled meat pieces, and much more. People, who visit the Rhodope region, can enjoy Patatnik and Ogreten made by potatoes as the main ingredient.