Bulgaria - the country with old history, with rich historical, ethnological and cultural heritage, with beautiful nature.

Bulgaria lies in southeastern Europe, bordering Romania, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Its northern border with Romania follows the Danube River until the city of Silistra. To the east, Bulgaria has the Black Sea coast that is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Bulgaria also has four large mountains with unspoilt national parks and charming ski resorts.

Away from the commercial resorts, Bulgaria is practically unknown to tourists, but that is its magic - there's hiking in untouched landscapes, endangered flora and fauna and an emerging village/backpacker style accommodation and food.

Unlike the ethnical rioting in some Balkan countries before some years, Bulgaria remained a "peace island" on the background of these events. Bulgaria today is politically and economically stable. Despite this, it's a considerably cheaper place to vacation than the rest of Europe.















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| The history of Bulgaria | The nature of Bulgaria | The culture of Bulgaria |

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St. Ivan of Rila, patron saint of Bulgaria
The history of Bulgaria


The lands where are today's borders of Bulgaria were inhabited from earliest times and were part of several ancient civilizations. The most notably of them is the Thracian civilization. Some of the world's oldest gold artifacts point to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast as the cradle of the world's metal production. Later, the Thracian lands were incorporated into the Roman Empire, as exemplified by the well-preserved Roman amphitheater in the city of Plovdiv.

The forerunner of today's Bulgarian state was founded by Khan Asparukh in 681 AC. He came with other Proto-Bulgarian Khans from Central Asia to Europe. Bulgaria adopted Christianity as early as 865, fought against the Byzantine Empire and dominated the entire Balkan region on and off for several hundred years.

Bulgaria fell under Ottoman rule in 1396 and remained part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years until the end of the 19th c. when the Bulgarian people arise against the Turkish yoke.

After the Liberation of Bulgaria the country endures some wars - two Balkan wars and the two World Wars. It became a Communist state after the end of World War II and was one of the staunchest supporters of the Soviet Union. The peaceful end of Communism in 1989 paved the way for Bulgaria's path to democracy, joining NATO in the spring of 2004 and on track to join the European Union in 2007.


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The nature of Bulgaria

For a small country, Bulgaria has a remarkably varied landscape. The long coastline caters for beach and water sport holidays, the mountains for skiing, hiking, and caving, and the rivers for extreme adventures. Mountains occupy half of the country's territory and are full of all kinds of natural and cultural treasures that over the centuries have remained hidden from prying eyes and aggressors. It is generously gifted with natural landmarks and diversity of landscape, mild moderate climate, rich variety of flora and fauna, and abundance of curative mineral springs.

More facts about its natural resources:

* 1,200 km long Black Sea coast with about 380 km sunny beaches with absolutely fine sand;
* More than 600 mineral springs with different composition and curative properties, ranking Bulgaria among the 6 European countries abounding in mineral water;
* 16 mountains, each with their own characteristic features Bulgaria has a tradition of nature conservation and a history of protected areas creation and management. It has three national, ten nature parks, more than 50 reserves, more than 600 natural landmarks and protected localities. The Pirin National Park, though the smallest in territory, boasts the largest diversity of natural assets and landmarks. The park is a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention site. The largest part of its territory lies above 2,000 meters and it has scores of peaks above 2,000 meters and 113 caves;
* Over 2,000 caves with fantastic shapes and colors, many stunning natural phenomena, sculpted by wind and water. The locality "Pobiti kamuni" (The Rammed Stones) is without any parallel in the world. The phenomenal stones are very huge that the fossil forests in Argentina and India pale in comparison;
* The world's only VALLEY OF ROSES is situated between Balkans mountain range and Sredna Gora mountains. This is a unique place with full of blossom roses from the end of May to the beginning of June.


View from one of the most beautiful mountains in Europe - Pirin Mountain

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Rila Monastery - The most famous monastery in Bulgaria with rich cultural heritage
The culture of Bulgaria

The traditional holidays, rooted deep in folklore, are more prevalent in rural Bulgaria than in the cities and tend to relate to the harvest and health. One of the most attractive rituals is the 'Koukeri' - men disguised in animal skins and furs, wearing grotesque painted masks, do the rounds of the villages banging loud bells to ward off evil spirits and ensure a good crop. Other famous Bulgarian dance is 'Nestinari', which dance on burning embers to mark the beginning of summer on the feast of Saints Constantine and Elena. Even sophisticated city folk will get up at a wedding to join in the 'Horo' - a dance in a circle to folk music.

With its more than 1300 years history the Bulgarians has inherited many archaeological monuments from the Thracian, Proto-Bulgarian and Bulgarian culture: The two unique monuments of Thracian art - the tombs near Kazanluk and Sveshtari; Boyana Church - marking the beginnings of portrait painting in European art; the majestic Rila Monastery - largest in the Balkans; the ancient museum town of Nessebur - situated on a rocky peninsula, linked with mainland by a narrow isthmus; Ivanovo Rock Monasteries - a natural museum of mediaeval Bulgarian painting and many others.

Bulgarian cuisine is one of the tastiest in Europe. Food is still cooked with fresh, naturally grown ingredients. It combines the wonderfully rich Ottoman influence with a peasant cooking style that uses flavor-packed vegetables and herbs. Bulgaria excels in 'sirene' (a white salty cheese) and yogurt. The yogurt is very good and distinctive that it's exported world wide simply as 'Bulgarian Yogurt'.


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Do you want to learn more? Watch these four episodes about Bulgaria below:










Sources:

experienceBULARIA
Maps of Bulgaria
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Authors BG

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