The Republic of Bulgaria is situated in the Southeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula.The population of the country is 7.85 m. and inhabits area of 110.912 sq.km.Bulgaria borders Greece and Turkey to the South,Macedonia and Sarbia & Montenegro to the West.Romania to the North and the Black Sea to the East.The climate is Continental-Mediterranean.International highways connect the country with Western Europe,Russia,Asia,Adriatic,Aegean and Black Sea.The marine(the Black Sea) and the river(along the Danube)transport offer good communication from and to the region.
The rich history of Bulgaria dates back from ancient times. 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)...
Bulgaria can take you back dozens of centuries to Pliska, Preslav and Veliko Tarnovo - the seats of the first Bulgarian khans, czars and kings; to the stone carving of the Madara Horseman; to the Thracian Gold Treasure; to the breathtaking murals of the Kazanlak Tomb and the church in Boyana; to the quiet wisdom of the Rila Monastery and to the towns of Koprivshtitsa, Melnick and Zheravna - renaissance legends of wood, stone and color. After five centuries of Turkish rule, Bulgarian culture reappeared in the 19th century as writers and artists strove to reawaken national consciousness.
Bulgaria has fascinating cultural heritage, connected with her rich history. The Bulgarian monasteries - hiding human, warm and living rather than "divine" beauty behind their austere stone facades, still amaze with their magnificent architecture, unfading frescoes and murals, exquisite icons and wood-carvings, made by self-taught architects, builders and painters.
The UNESCO List of World Heritage now features over 300 landmarks.
Nine Bulgarian wonders - seven cultural and two natural sites - are included among them:
the Kazanluk Tomb
the Sveshtari Tomb
the Madara Horseman
the Ivanovo Rock Monasteries
Pirin National Park
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 Rhodopi Mountains folk song.
The world has started talking about the "Mystery of Bulgarian songs and dances"... International interest in Bulgarian vocal music was ignited by groups such as Le Mystere des Voix Bulgaires, who have taken Bulgaria's polyphonic female choir singing to a world audience.
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.
Festivals and customs
Full of beauty, gaiety and a healthy love of life, the Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to ancient times when mail tried to appease the natural elements and trembled before their power. One of the merriest and richest festivals in a ritual aspect are Christmas and the New Year, when the so called 'sourvakari' make the round of houses with wishes for health and prosperity. Other major festivals include "ladouvane" - a festive ritual for young girls on New Year's Day or Midsummer Day (24 June), 'lazarouvane' - an Orthodox festival dedicated to love and the family, Trifon Zarezan (Vinegrower's Day) and St. George's Day, linked with health and abundance. And among them, the widely popular and typically Bulgarian customs and festivals - 'martenitsas' and rose-picking.
Every year on the 1st of March, the Bulgarians give each other 'martenitsas' - small figures made of white and red threads, a symbol of the awakening, of spring, health and happiness.
In late May and early June every year, the rose-picking season starts in the Valley of Roses which stretches between the Balkan Range and the Sredna Gora Mountains.Rose-picking starts at dawn, before sunrise and before the rose fragrance has had a chance to disappear. The Bulgarian oleaginous rose yields 70 percent of the world's attar of roses used by every well known perfume company as an essential component of its products. This is the time of the Festival of Roses, celebrated with carnivals, processions, folk songs and dances in Karlovo and Kazanluk on the first Sunday in June.
Bulgaria offers great opportunities for tourism development.There is magnificent nature, curious rock formations and mysterious caves; sunny seashores of the Black Sea with golden sands, quiet coves and romantic capes; majestic mountains with fiery peaks, mirror lakes and shady woods full of scent.,attractive cultural and historic sites. Skiing is well-established in Bulgaria, with the season running from December to April. Mt Vitosha, on the southern outskirts of Sofia, is the most accessible of Bulgaria's ski areas; but the largest resort is at Borovets, 70km (43mi) south of Sofia, which has the highest mountains in the Balkans as a backdrop. Pamporovo in the Rodopi Mountains is popular with package tourists and Bansko in the Pirin Mountains is Bulgaria's least commercialised ski resort. Mountain climbing is feasible and you don't have to be Edmund Hillary to scale Musala Peak. There are less strenuous hiking possibilities in the Stara Planina range and in the Rodopi Mountains.
Official language(s) - Bulgarian
Capital - Sofia
Currency Lev (BGN)
Time zone - EET (UTC+2)
- Summer (DST) (UTC+3)
Calling code - +359
Area - 110.910 sg km
Population - 7 720 000 (2005)
The city goes back quite a long way. During VIII - VII B.C., a Thracian tribe named Serdi has lives in the region near the mineral water resources. The conquest wars of Rome put the end of their settlement. The Romans accept new administrative - territorial division of the conquered areas. Thus the city of the Serdi - Serdika, as it is known by the time, becomes an important trade and administrative centre.
The numerous valuable archeological monuments, as well as the defensive equipment preserved from ancient times show the zenith and the significance of the old town of Serdika. Being a cross-road town in the East Roman Empire, it has suffered the invasions of the Barbarians. Its glory never comes back, but the fortress and the magnificent church "St.Sofia", which has given the name of our capital, has been restored.
In the VI century, during the time of Justinian, Serdika becomes an important city in the East Roman Empire again. Soon afterwards, it falls under the attacks of the Slav tribes invading the Balkan Peninsula.
In the IX century, during the rule of Khan Krum, Serdika receives the name Sredetz and turns into a significant military, political and cultural centre of the large medieval Bulgarian country. The Byzantium rule during the XI - XII century, when the town is known under the name of Triaditza, ceases its efflorescence for some time, until in XIII - XIV century Sredetz becomes again economical and cultural centre.
At the end of the XIV century the town is already called Sofia. Meanwhile it has become strongly fortified town with well developed craftsmanship and trade. On 3rd April 1879, since the Bulgarian liberation from the Ottoman rule, Sofia has been declared as the capital of Bulgaria, the reason being its geographical location and potentiality for economic growth. The infrastructure development of the city is a matter of national importance.
During the first few decades since the Liberation, one of the most famous buildings of Sofia are created. These are: the building of the State Government, the "Ivan Vazov" theatre, the Central Bath with mineral water resources, the Academy of Science, the National Library, the "Alexander Nevski" Cathedral etc. The most beautiful and impressive ones has been announced as cultural monuments of national significance.
In a short time, the city turns into the greatest demographic, economic and cultural center of the country. Nowadays it is situated in the main part of the Sofia valley. The city is surrounded by the mountains: Stara Planina /northwards/, Sredna Gora /eastwards and south-east/, Vitosha /southwards/, Liulin and Viskiar /westwards/. It is located on the river Iskar terraces and its left feeders. The cross-road location, as well as the fertile lands, the mineral water resources, the river Iskar and its feeders prove to be a pre-requisite for the origin of the city and its development. The lack of large rivers is compensated by the beautiful lake of Pancharevo and the small dam lakes situated nearby. Large rivers crossing the city are Perlovska and Vladaiska.
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, situated on the Maritsa River. Its unique location on these ancient crossroads has stimulated strong cultural and political influences from East and West civilizations, and yet maintained its unique identity. Being older than most of the oldest towns like Rome, Athens, Carthage or Constantinopole, an almost contemporary of Troy, Plovdiv is a town built upon layers of towns and a culture developed upon layers of cultures.
Plovdiv is a picturesque town, with many parks and gardens, museums and archaeological monuments. Its old part, called the Old Town, with houses from the National Revival period (18-19th century), is an imposing open-air museum situated on the three hills of the ancient Trimontium. One of the most remarkable sights of the town, the Ancient Theatre (a well-preserved Roman theatre), is located there and is still used for open-air performances.
Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 351,552 (as at January 10, 2006). It is the capital of Varna Province and an important port in the eastern part of the country, located on the Black Sea coast close to Lake Varna. The city was named Stalin after the Soviet leader for a brief period from 1949 to 1956.
Varna, the biggest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, is commonly referred to as the "Sea Capital of Bulgaria". The city was also the base of the Bulgarian Navy. Currently, there is a Naval Museum with a museum ship torpedo boat Drazki. The archaeological museum contains some of the finds from the so-called "Gold of Varna", a cache of Chalcolithic grave-goods which are the oldest gold treasure in the world. The ethnographic museum shows objects connected with the fishemen's, peasants' and citizens' life and work from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Bourgas is the second-largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is also the fourth-largest by population in the country, after Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. It is the capital of Bourgas Province and an industrial and tourist centre. The Bourgas Lakes are located around the city.
Bourgas International Airport is a connecting point to major Black Sea resorts in Bulgaria such as Sunny Beach, Nessebar, Sozopol, Dyuni, Elenite.