You do not know what Bulgaria is like! Learn more! Discover the advantages of this rough diamond! The pearl on the Black sea!
First some General Information:
Location: Bulgaria is situated in Southeast Europe and occupies the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the north it borders on Romania, to the west on the Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to the east on the Black Sea, to the south on Greece and to the southeast on Turkey's European part. Area: 111.000 sq km.
Relief: Extremely varied: large plains and lowlands, low and high mountains, valleys and lovely gorges.
Climate: Temperate continental with clearly marked four seasons. A Mediterranean influence is felt in the country's southern regions. The average annual temperature is 10.5 C. The average January temperature is around O C. Average summer temperatures rarely exceed 30 C.
Language: Bulgarian. English, German, French and Russian is spoken in the country's resorts, hotels and restaurants.
Alphabet: Cyrillic. Signs along international motorways, in airports and resorts are also spelled in Roman letters.
Religion: 86.6% of the population is Eastern Orthodox, 13% are Muslims. The Bulgarian Church is autonomous and headed by a Patriarch.
State government: Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic.
Official holidays: January 1 - New Year March 3 - Bulgaria's Liberation from Ottoman rule - the National Day Easter - one week after the Catholic Easter May 1 - Labour Day May 6 - Bulgarian Army Day May 24 - Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and the Slav Script September 6 - Bulgaria's Unification September 22 - Independence Day December 25-26 - Christmas
The Capital of Bulgaria is Sofia (pop. 1,141,000).
Large Cities: Plovdiv, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Burgas
Bulgarian cuisine Video>>
Gourmets have long since esteemed the merits of Bulgarian cuisine with the verdict that it is tasty, spicy and varied, appealing to one and all. Indeed, who would not like the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, juicy meat, grilled or served with piquant sauces, mouth-watering vegetarian dishes, simmered slowly on low heat, the banitsa (cheese pie) which simply melts in your mouth, and famous Bulgarian yogurt? The Bulgarian "culinary" geography abounds in delicious specialties and exotic dishes: Bansko-style kapama (meat and vegetables stewed in an earthenware dish), Rhodope cheverme ( lamb roasted on a spit over an open fire), Thracian katmi ( a special type of pancake) and Dobroudjanska banitsa, Danube fish soup and Sozopol-style mussels. The cosy, typically Bulgarian folk-style restaurants will tempt you with Shopska salad and chilled grape brandy, stuffed vine leaves or peppers, kavarma the Miller's Way, monastery-style hotchpotch, moussaka and kebab. The smell of oven-fresh bread rolls is mixed with the fragrance of savoury. Thinly sliced loukanka (flat dry sausage) from Smyadovo, pastarma, feta and yellow cheese are temptingly arranged on ceramic plates. The delicate white wines Dimyat, Misket and Riesling are followed by full reds such as Merlot, Cabernet and Gamza. Cups of steaming coffee are served with sweet jam, pancakes with honey and walnuts or baklava.
Throughout Bulgaria you will find catering establishments of different categories serving different foods: renowned luxury restaurants, taverns which serve national cuisine, restaurants serving foreign cuisine, fast food outlets, pizzerias, numerous cafes and pastry shops, entertainment spots, etc.
Menus are usually printed in both Bulgarian and English. Restaurants stay open from 11a.m. to midnight, but may work round the clock.
It will fascinate you with its fantastic creativity, squeezing so much beauty onto such a tiny land - curious rock formations and mysterious caves; sunny seashores with golden sands, quiet coves and romantic capes; majestic mountains with fiery peaks, mirror lakes and shady woods full of scent.
Bulgaria occupies a relatively small area - 111 000 sq. km, but is nevertheless distinguished by generous and varied nature - a sea with a 380 km. long coastal strip and golden beaches, 16 mountains with their own characteristic features, shelters valleys and high plateaus, over 550 curative mineral springs, dozen of unique natural phenomena and 2000 thrilling caves, a healthy climate and diverse flora and fauna. As a whole Bulgaria's vegetation can be ranked among the Central European forest region, but the influence of the South Russian and Asia Minor regions is also felt. The higher part of Bulgarian mountains are covered by sub -Arctic vegetation, among which juniper forests predominate. In fact, Bulgaria boasts 3000 higher plant varieties - almost twice as many as in England. More then one quarter of the country's territory is covered with forests. The edelweiss, which grows in places difficult of access in the Pirin Mountains and the Balkan Range, is one of the rare plants growing in the country. Bulgaria is famous for its oleaginous rose which bloom in the Valley of Roses. The Bulgarian tobacco brands are world - famous. The Bulgarian fauna is no less interesting, with almost 13 000 animal species and subspecies, or about 14 percent of all European species. Fishing is possible in lakes, dams, mountain brooks and sea, hunting - in special hunting grounds.
Temperate continental with clearly marked four seasons.
A Mediterranean influence is felt in the country's southern regions.
The average annual temperature is 10.5 C.
The average January temperature is around O C.
Average summer temperatures rarely exceed 30 C.
You will hear them in the unique rhythm, melody and harmony of the Bulgarian folk songs and chants; your heart will sense them in the merry and healthy joye-de-vivre atmosphere of the rites and celebrations. You will discern them in the everlasting beauty of the handicrafts, finely woven in the ceramic vignettes and wood carvings, colorful rugs and hammered copper-ware. You will find them in the exquisite taste of Bulgarian cuisine and in the fine aroma of Bulgarian wines.
Nobody who loves traveling will be able to cover all earth's roads and come to know all worlds...
But anybody could make a journey to knowledge - without forgetting where he started from and without losing the way back...
History has allotted Bulgaria a difficult and dramatic face. Much has perished, but even more has remained - a rich spiritual world which will show you with the colours, rhythms and melodious songs of living Bulgarian folklore, the unfading beauty of Bulgarian arts and crafts, the gaiety and vivacity of Bulgarian festivals and customs, the piquant taste of Bulgarian cuisine and the delicate fragrance of Bulgarian wines.
The Bulgarian lands are ancient crossroads. It remembers many ancient civilizations and great peoples which wrote the pages of its turbulent history: bronze and iron spears and arrows, ruins of palaces and cities, wise words carved on rocks and stone columns, written on parchment and leather. The Thracians bequeathed us the famous tombs near Kazanluk and Sveshtari, the unique gold treasures from Panagyurishte and Rogozen. The Hellenes built the beautiful coastal towns of Apollonia, Anhialo and Messambria, and Romans - ancient Aescus, Nikopolis ad Istrum and Nove. Huns, Gothes and Averas later passes through our lands. Around the mid-7th century the Slavs came from the north across the Danube and reached as far as the Black Sea and the Adriatic. They were followed by the Bulgarians of Khan Asparouh... In fact, there were only three states in Europe in 681: The Western Roman Empire, BULGARIA, and The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium)...
The first Bulgarian state was recognized in 681 A.D. and was a mixture of Slavs and Bulgars. Several years later, the First Bulgarian Kingdom or the "Golden Age" emerged under Tsar Simeon I in 893-927. During this time, Bulgarian art and literature flourished. Also during the ninth century, Orthodox Christianity became the primary religion in Bulgaria and the Cyrillic alphabet was established.
In 1018, Bulgaria fell under the authority of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine rule was short-lived, however. By 1185 Bulgarians had broken free of Byzantine rule and, in 1202, they established the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Ottoman domination of the Balkan Peninsula eventually affected Bulgaria in the late 14th century, and by 1396, Bulgaria had become part of the Ottoman Empire. Following the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) and the Treaty of Berlin (1885), Bulgaria gained some autonomy under the Ottoman Empire, but complete independence was not recognized until 1908.
The early-to-mid-1900s in Bulgaria was characterized by social and political unrest. Bulgaria participated in the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912 and 1913) and sided with the Central Powers and later the Axis Powers during the two World Wars. (Although allied with Germany during World War II, Bulgaria never declared war on Russia.)
Following the defeat of the Axis Powers, communism emerged as the dominant political force within Bulgaria. Former King Simeon II, who is currently Prime Minister, was forced into exile in 1946 and remained primarily in Madrid, Spain, until April 2001, when he returned to Bulgaria. (Note: Simeon assumed control of the throne in 1943 at the age of 6 following the death of his father Boris III.) By 1946, Bulgaria had become a satellite of the Soviet Union, remaining so throughout the Cold War period. Todor Zhivkov ruled Bulgaria for much of its time under communism, and during his 27 years as leader of Bulgaria, democratic opposition was crushed, agriculture and industry were nationalized, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church fell under the control of the state.
In 1989, Zhivkov relinquished control, and democratic change began. The first multi-party elections since World War II were held in 1990. The ruling communist party changed its name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party and won the June 1990 elections. Following a period of social unrest and passage of a new constitution, the first fully democratic parliamentary elections were held in 1991 in which the United Democratic Front won. The first direct presidential elections were held the next year.
As Bulgaria emerged from the throes of communism, it experienced a period of social and economic unrest. With the help of the international community, former Prime Minister Ivan Kostov initiated a series of economic reforms in 1997 that helped stabilize the country. Recent elections in 2001 ushered in a new government and president, but the new leadership in Sofia remains committed to Euro-Atlantic integration, democratic reform, and development of a market-based economy.
NATO membership is scheduled for April 1st 2004 and EC membership is on target for a Jan 1st 2007 entry date.
It will be omnipresent in your days with unique finds in the museums, including the world's oldest gold; with beautiful collections of works from self-taught old masters to modern painters in the art galleries; with classical concerts and folklore song-and-dance festivals.
One has to see the magnificent Thracian treasures, the monumental but beautiful work of the Greek and Roman cities in order to understand why Bulgaria became the cradle of Slav culture.
For thirteen centuries the Bulgarian has been creating literature, art and music. Bulgarian culture has given the world men of great achievements, unparalleled in history.
In the 9th centurie the brothers Cyril and Methodius, recognised as the patrons of Europe, upset the trilingual dogma and created the alphabet of the Slav peoples.
During the 14th centurie John Koukouzel - The Angel-voiced carried out a reform in Eastern Orthodox church music. Unknown painters created masterpieces which have become part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
Born from the power of tradition, modern Bulgarian culture, too, triumphs in the world. A quatrain of the great Bulgarian poet Hristo Botev has found a place in the Sorbonne, Boris Christoff and a whole host of Bulgarian singers have conquered the world's opera stages, the "Mystery of Bulgarian Voices" has astounded melomaniacs, the paintings of Vladimir Dimitrov-The Master can be seen in the world's finest galleries.
Melodious tunes and beautiful voices, fiery dances and brightly coloured costumes - Bulgarian folklore has to be seen, felt and experienced!
The world has already discovered Ninth Symphony, its message to other civilizations travelling to the stars aboard the Voyager I and Voyager 2 spaceships also includes the recording of a Bulgarian Rhodope Mountain folk song.
The world is discovering it again and again at major folklore and song contests in Italy, France, England and Ireland from which the Bulgarian music and dance ensembles invariably walk off with the first prizes.
The world has started talking about the "Mystery of Bulgarian songs and dances"...
If you attend one of the many picturesque folk fairs, singing contests and original folklore festivals in this Country, which gather thousands of singers, musicians and dancers, where several generations of Bulgarians sing, play and dance, you will perhaps yourself discover the key to this mystery, the key to the heart and soul of Bulgaria.
Holiday Ideas in Bulgaria
Bulgaria's natural landscape is full of surprises - it has endless, sandy beaches along the Black Sea, wild mountain ranges and lush green hills, fertile plains, magnificent gorges, rivers, health spas and natural springs... It is famous for long balmy Summers, dreamy scented rose fields, richly coloured orchards and sundrenched vine-yards ...
It is also renowned as a Winter Wonderland - with snow-laden mountains and pine forests stretching out as far as the eye can see, glistening like diamonds against an ever-blue sky.
Nestling at the heart of Central Europe, Bulgaria is a land of unspoilt natural beauty, where time has been known to stand still. It is a country of great contrasts.
Bulgaria is an interesting and intriguing experience for anyone: for those who love the warm southern sea or snow-covered slopes, for those who want to see it's cultural and historic monuments, who wish to delight in its unique and living folklore, for young people fond of sports, for families with children, for the aged and people who need treatment, for those who dream of carefree holidays.
A country open to the world where the roads of big tourism cross.
Let Bulgaria awaken all your Senses
The taste of good food and drink...
The smell of roses and wild flowers wafting across Summer meadows...
The warming glow of open fires in cosy Winter log cabins...
The sound of cascading waterfalls and waves on the shore, and of children's laughter, haunting melodies from the past...
The feel of warm sand, barefoot on the beach...
The crunch of snow on winter slopes...
The wondrous sight of golden sunsets...
Colourful national costumes, and busting street markets
How to Reach Bulgaria
The national carrier Balkan Bulgarian Airlines, private Bulgarian airline companies, as well as many foreign airlines link the country to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America. 7-day and 14-day charter flights from the most suitable for you airport to Varna and Burgas.
The country can be entered through any one of the many border checkpoints. Foreign driving licenses are valid on Bulgarian territory. Insurance is compulsory - it can either be taken out beforehand or on the Bulgarian border. The speed limit in the country is as follows: 60 km/h in populated areas, 80 km/h outside populated areas, 120 km/h on motorways. Petrol stations are located at every 30 to 50 km.
The main European railway routes pass through Bulgaria. International trains link Sofia with many European capital cities and the domestic rail network ensures access to all large settlements.
Passports and Visas
You will need a valid passport with an entry or transit visa which is issued by the embassies and consulates of the Republic of Bulgaria abroad.
No entry visas are required for citizens of the countries with which Bulgaria has a visa-free regime, or of organized tourists who have bought a package tour.
No entry visas are required for citizens of the EU and EFTA member states.
No visas are required for CIS citizens for a stay of one month, provided they are in the possession of a valid passport, a voucher for pre-paid tourist services or if they pay the sum of 40 USD for each day of their stay in the country.
Costs of living
In general, Bulgaria is very inexpensive for eating and drinking with a meal costing an average of 5-7 Euro, a bottle of beer for less that a Euro and good Bulgarian wine cost around 5 Euro a bottle. It is always worthwhile asking for the English and Bulgarian menus in the tourist areas.
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