Boyana Church - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Bulgaria will surely fascinate history lovers and people who want to see an authentic culture and nature. The country is even more attractive now when some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world simply closed their borders for international tourists.
The first site I absolutely recommend is Boyana Church, which is located 8-9 km outside Sofia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of three buildings. The oldest one, the eastern church was built in the 10th century and enlarged in the 13th century when a second taller church with two stories was built next to it. The frescoes in this second church date back to 1259 and they are a spectacular example of pre-Renaissance art. A third church was added in the early 19th century, which is very well preserved. The entire complex is a remarkable Orthodox Christian monument.
The Medieval Rila Monastery - UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Seven Rila Lakes
Another must-visit UNESCO World Heritage Site, just 120 km away from Sofia is the Rila Monastery St. Ivan of Rila. The medieval Orthodox monastery complex is located at the Rila Mountains and it is named after its founder, the hermit and Orthodox Saint of Ivan of Rila in the 10th century. It is still a functioning monastery and home to about 60 monks. It was visited as well in 2002 by Pope John Paul II and Bulgarians consider it to be the most important Bulgarian cultural and architectural monument.
You can visit as well the nearby Seven Rila Lakes.
Belogradchik Rocks and the 15-Million-Year-Old Magura Cave
Another site that is relatively close to Sofia, 180 km away is the small town Belogradchik, known for its unusual rock formations of all shapes and sizes. Just next to the town, 22 km away is the Magura Cave, famous with its prehistoric wall paintings. This cave is a complex of various underground galleries and chambers with the largest Arc hall - 128 m long and 21 m high. The paintings include artwork from the Epipaleolithic to the early Bronze Age and bones from various prehistoric species. The paintings are extremely interesting depicting silhouettes of men and women hunting and dancing, animals, people wearing masks, prehistoric plants, etc.
Koprivshtitsa - Going Back In Time to the 19th Century
Koprivshtitsa is an amazing historic Bulgarian small town, 110 km away from Sofia in the Sredna Gora mountain range that still preserves the spirit and architecture of a wealthy merchant town in the 19th century. It is an official Bulgarian architectural and cultural reserve. This is also a unique place for buying authentic handmade souvenirs and traditional folklore outfits.
If you happen to be in Bulgaria in May, it is totally worth it to continue your journey to Kazanlak, where you can see the local rose festival and the Bulgarian Valley of roses. Kazanlak also holds a unique ancient Thracian tomb, which is a UNESCO World heritage site as well.
Plovdiv - 8,000-Year-Old Trip in Time
Plovdiv, situated on seven hills like Rome, has been inhabited for 8,000 years, which makes it one of the oldest continuously settled cities in Europe and in the world for that matter. The Ancient Thracians were the first settlers, then ancient Greeks conquered it before the Romans took over and built a series of spectacular monuments that are still discovered when excavations start. The Roman Theater with a capacity of 7,000 spectators is still a very well preserved outdoor museum, the Roman stadium holding up to 30,000 spectators, the ruins of the ancient Philippopolis, the Old Town with 18th and 19th century Ottoman architecture, as well as strolling the busy downtown streets full of pedestrians, artists, and cosy restaurants and cafes are experiences that will inspire any dedicated traveler.
The Majestic Rhodope Mountains
If you ever plan a road trip in Bulgaria, the Rhodope mountains will be the perfect place to do so. There’s plenty of natural and architectural sites, picturesque villages, breathtaking viewpoints, and many hiking and biking trails. This was the homeland of the ancient Thracian mythological hero and musician Orpheus. This is my favorite Bulgarian mountain. It literally has it all! Mineral water in Devin, super delicious local dishes such as the patatnik and sach, the gigantic beans from the village of Smilyan, picturesque villages with very hospitable people, such as Gela and its annual bagpipers' festival, Smilyan, or Shiroka Laka known as well for its folk musical school, Pamporovo ski resort, natural phenomena including the Devil's Throat cave, Yagodina cave, the Stone mushrooms rock formations, archeological sites including ancient Thracian sanctuaries like Perperikon or the ancient Roman Villa Armira - a well preserved villa of a Roman nobleman. You name it, the Rhodopes have it!
The Medieval Bulgarian Capital Veliko Turnovo
Situated in the very middle of Bulgaria, on the Yantra river, the beautiful Veliko Tarnovo used to be the Bulgarian capital city in the Middle Ages. The city is built on three hills, the tallest of which is called Tsarevets, which is also the name of the historic fortress protecting the city.
Sozopol and Ravadinovo - Black Sea Coast
In the southeastern corner of Bulgaria, right on the Black Sea coast, you can see Sozopol, which used to be the ancient Greek town of Apolonia and its picturesque streets full of history. Just two km away from Sozopol, in the village of Ravadinovo you can see a fairy-tale type of castle. It is a brand new castle, which has no historic value and yet, it is still pleasant for the eye.
Nessebar - the gem of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and UNESCO World Heritage Site
Originally a Thracian settlement under the name of Melsambria, it became a Greek colony at the beginning of the 6th century BC. The town is located on a long and narrow peninsula and it is dotted with ancient churches, cultural monuments, open air markets and little restaurants with tasty local treats.
Varna - the Maritime Capital of Bulgaria with an Ancient Past
The city of Varna was founded by the ancient Greeks in 580 BC with the name Odessos - a city on water but apparently it has much more ancient origins because the local Archaeological museum hosts the oldest gold treasure in Europe, discovered in Varna in the 1960s and dated back to 6,000 years. The city also has ancient Roman public baths, sandy beaches, and a unique atmosphere with bustling streets, great farmers' markets and a majestic seaside park. Within the city limits, you can also visit the summer maritime residence Euxinograd, which belonged to the Bulgarian royal family and not far away from the city you can reach the Sveshtari Thracian tomb, which is another UNESCO World heritage site as well as breathtaking lavender fields in the summer.
© 2021 Chris Kostov
Deshsewak Kuldeep Bhagat from A TO Z Exim Shopping Mart on February 01, 2021: