The Master The Ballerina

Born in Istanbul in 1935 to a sculptor father, the gifted Dimitar Kirov was painting by the age of seven. Still working and living today in Plovdiv's old town, with Rosalia, his wife of 44 years -and one of modern Bulgaria's greatest ballerinas - Dimitar may well be the spirit of old Plovdiv personified. This living master of Bulgarian painting and mosaic art considers himself'the last of an era', after the passing a few years ago of his best friend and fellow painter, Giorgi Bozhilov,...

Eating

Khlebozavod Ruse (ul Aleksandrovska banitsa 0.60 Iv S 8am-4pm) A busy take-away place on the pedestrian mall near bul Tsar Osvoboditel, this little shop sells an array of banitsa (cheese pasties) and similar morning-hours snacks. Ali Baba (cnr Aleksandrovska & Rakovski mains 2 Iv S 8am-11pm) Quick and tasty chicken shishle, kebabs, falafel and meat wraps for takeaway or eating at the outdoor tables. Del Cano (pi Sveta Troitsa 15 mains 4-6 Iv) A tasty lunch spot on the square's far side. H'lJ...

Hiking In The Stara Planina

With an average height of little more than 700m, the Stara Planina (Old Mountain) range is not high, particularly compared with the Rila and Pirin Mountains. Nonetheless it is vast, covering 11,500 sq km (about 10 of Bulgaria) and, at close to 550km long, it extends almost the entire length of the country. Nearly 30 peaks are over 2000m high and the mountains feed one-third of Bulgaria's major rivers. The highest point is Mt Botev (2376m), north of Karlovo. The Mountains of Bulgaria by Julian...

Sinemorets Chhemopelj

Sinemorets (Si-ne-mor-ets) is the Black Sea's last largely undiscovered hideaway, although it seems that the relentiess pace of development along the coastline has set it firmly in the developers' sights. Despite the presence of an enormous hotel on the village's best beach, the atmosphere of remote village life and a generally slow-paced existence remains, and it's a superb base for visiting the nearby Strandzha Nature Park and hiking and bird-watching in the surrounding countryside. The two...

Sarafkina Kashta

Built in 1861 by a rich Turkish merchant and moneylender, this fine five-storey National Revival-period style house-museum ( 635 802 ul Gurko 88 adult student 4 2 Iv S Sam-noon & 1-6pm Mon-Fri) displays antique ceramics, metalwork, woodcarvings and jewellery, and has some fascinating exhibits about traditional costumes and breadmaking. Revival-period furniture fills the upper floor, along with vintage family photos on the walls. MUSEUM OF NATIONAL REVIVAL & CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY This...

MONEY

The local currency is the lev (plural leva), comprised of 100 stotinki. It is almost always abbreviated to lv. The lev is a stable currency see inside the front cover for the conversion rates of several major currencies at the time of research. For major purchases such as organised tours, airfares, car rental and midrange and top-end hotels, prices are almost always quoted by staff in euros, although payment is possible in leva too. (Bulgaria has no immediate plans to adopt the Euro as its...

Woodcarving

During the Bulgarian National Revival period, Tryavna became renowned for the quality and quantity of its woodcarvings, often intricately chiselled from local walnut, birch, poplar and oak trees. Many carvings from Tryavna were used to decorate monasteries in Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanasi and Rila, and carvers were sought after by builders and house owners as far away as Serbia, Turkey and modern-day Iran. By the early 19th century, over 40 workshops in Tryavna were churning out wooden...

Shipka Monastery

Even before arriving in Shipka, you'll see the splendid, onion-shaped golden domes of the Nativity Memorial Church (admission 2 Iv, photography permit5 Iv S 8.30am-7pm) glittering from amidst thick woods above the village, framed against the mountain. Part of the Shipka Monastery, and also known as the Church of St Nikolai, the magnificent structure was built in 1902 as a dedication to soldiers who died at the Shipka Pass during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78). The design is heavily influenced...

Hiking In The Rodopi Mountains

Exploring the idyllic, forested region around Chepelare, Smolyan, Shiroka Luka and Devin is the high point for nature lovers in the Rodopi region. First, get the English-language West Rhodopean Region or Western Rhodope Mountains maps (1 100,000) from the tourist offices in Pamporovo, Chepelare or Smolyan. They detail hiking trails of three to five hours, plus five mountain biking routes. Kartografia also has an excellent Rodopi map (1 100,000). Julian Perry's The Mountains of Bulgaria...

Sleeping

Hotel Dunav ( fax600 177 ul Edelvals 3 s d 30 50 Iv, with shared bathroom 18 36 Iv) The Dunav is centrally located and offers Vidin's cheapest rates. Some rooms have a lived-in, musty feel, while others have slightiy upgraded furnishings. Hotel Bononia ( 606 031 molra_bg200 yahoo .com ul Bdin 2 s d 43 65 Iv (El) Wedged between the main square, river and park, the Bononia has a very central location and friendly staff, offering modern rooms with nice, if small bathrooms, air conditioning and TV....

Sleeping Eating

The two former state-run hotels - the Hotel Belogradchiski Skali, on the square, and the Hotel Belogradchik, one street below - have been neglected and closed, though at the time of writing the former was being transformed into a four-star hotel. New guesthouses have also opened over the past couple of years, but there are not enough restaurants to keep up with demand. Nightlife is relegated to a few caf -bars on the main street and a weekend disco blaring chalga (Bulgarian folk-pop music)....

Kyustendil KioctehflHJl

Kyustendil, 90km southwest of Sofia, has been famous for its curative mineral springs since Thracian times, although it was the Romans who built up the site into a major city, which they called Pautalia, in the 2nd century AD. Under the Byzantines it was renamed Velbazhd, growing into an important religious and military centre, and in the late 14th century it briefly became the seat of an independent principality, ruled over by the brothers John and Constantine Dragash. The town's present name...

Cbeth Kohctahthh

Sveti Konstantin is a small, fairly sedate beach resort about 9km northeast of Varna, with hotels attractively spaced out amongst parkland. Established in 1946 under the name of Druzhba (Friendship), it was later renamed Sveti Konstantin and Sveti Elena, but is now more commonly known simply as Sveti Konstantin. It's less commercial than other resorts and has long been popular with older holidaymakers it still has a number of 'rest homes' for retired civil servants and trade union members, and...

Vasil Levski

The most revered person in modern Bulgarian history may well be Vasil Levski, whose name graces myriad streets and squares, and who is immortalised in statues and museums throughout the country as 'the apostle of freedom' for his contributions to organising the national resistance to Ottoman rule. Vasil Ivanov Kunchev was born on 18 July 1837 in Karlovo, and given the nom de guerre 'Levski' (from the Bulgarian word for lion) by his peers. He studied and worked as a monk in Stara Zagora, but in...

Wineries

Chateau Euxinograde ( 052-393 165 www.euxinograde.com Varna) Housed in the former royal palace north of Varna on the Black Sea, this winery was established in 1891 by Prince Battenberg snatched later by the communists, from 1944 to 1989 it catered to high officials of the party. The 90-hectare Euxinograde complex offers no ordinary wine tour the stately palace features elaborate period furnishings, botanical gardens with rare plants, and the impressive old wine collections of Prince Ferdinand...

Tsarevo Ljapebo

Spread lazily over two small peninsulas jutting out into the Black Sea,Tsarevo is a quiet, elegant little town, once a popular holiday spot for the Bulgarian royal family. Called Vasiliko until 1934, it was renamed Tsarevo ('royal place') in honour of Tsar Boris III the communists then renamed it Michurin (after a Soviet botanist) in 1950, and it reverted once again in 1991. The centre, on the northern peninsula, has a calm, affluent atmosphere and feels more like a real town than some of...

Endangered Species

Included in the official list of the endangered animals of Bulgaria are seals and dolphins, both of which were hunted ruthlessly in the past (dolphin hunting was banned in Bulgaria in 1966) but can still be seen in sadly decreasing numbers off the northern part of the Black Sea coast. Bulgaria has one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe (the last estimate was around 1000 individuals), and numbers are increasing, thanks to a ban on hunting, although farmers are still allowed to apply...

HISAR xhcap

Therapeutic mineral springs have been Hisar's (also known as Hisarya) main claim to fame ever since Roman times, when it was named Diokletianopolis, after the Emperor Diocletian. Altogether, there are 22 mineral-water springs here, said to cure many ailments the popularity of these springs even today has ensured this sleepy mountain town's livelihood. Since it's mostly visited in summer, visiting in winter means you will have the place to yourself. The main street has some unique ruins from the...

Skiing

At 1800m above sea level, Mt Vitosha is Bulgaria's highest ski resort and its six slopes are only 22km from the centre of Sofia. There is rarely enough snow here before mid-December, but the season can often last into April. The 29km of alpine ski runs (the longest is about 5km) range from easy to very difficult, and start as high as Mt Cherni Vrah. Crosscountry skiing is ideal along the 15km of trails, and snowboarding is also possible. As well as the Simeonovo gondola and Dragalevtsi...

Eat Your Words

If you want to know the difference between kebabche and kyufte, or are looking for a meal without meat, you'll first need to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. For language guidelines, see p309. Bulgarians are by and large a laid-back lot when it comes to behaviour at the table, although the usual Western rules of 'good manners' still apply when dining out. Obviously, these standards will vary according to where you are eating street-bar patrons won't be shocked if you use your fingers to eat, for...

Troyan Tpqh

Troyan, associated mostly with its famous nearby monastery, is a laid-back, slightly faded town with crisp, clean mountain air. The grand, Soviet-era main square has a relaxed atmosphere and several well-frequented caf s. There's also a notable Pomak Muslim population. Although there's not much else to the place, it makes a good base for seeing the Troyan Monastery, Oreshak, Lovech and Karlovo. Troyan's also close to some excellent Stara Planina hiking paths. Millennia ago, the Thracians first...

Smolyans Mysterious Caves

In ancient times, the road to hell was paved with water so, too, in today's Bulgaria. Although not exactly replicating the voyage to Hades along the River Styx, the journey into the recently discovered Golubovitsa Cave is a thrilling and similarly aquatic one. Located 3km south of Uhlovitsa Cave (see below), off the road between Smolyan and Mogilitsa, the cave is accessible by boat, as the first 25m or so is completely underwater. After that, you walk, accompanied by lantern and a guide, and...

Environmental Issues

Like most postcommunist countries, the lure of fast cash has often outweighed ecologically sustainable development. Logging, poaching and insensitive development continue in protected areas and excessive and harmful air and water pollution is infrequently controlled. Finite fossil fuels, such as coal, are still used for generating electricity, and farmers continually (and illegally) clear land by burning, which causes many devastating fires each summer. The big money to be made in Bulgaria's...

Central Coast

Like neighbouring Nesebar, Pomorie sits on a narrow peninsula, and until it was ravaged by fire in 1906 was almost as picturesque. There, however, the similarities end. The modern town centre has a lazy charm, but while the beach is serviceable, the water is choked with odorous seaweed. Pomorie is very much a Bulgarian resort, almost entirely bypassed by foreign tourists, but it's a relatively cheap base from which to visit Nesebar and Burgas. The town is also famous for its salt lakes,...

Aladzha Monastery

A major local attraction is the Aladzha Monastery ( 355 460 admission 3 lv S 9am-6pm Apr-Oct, to 4pm Tue-Sat Nov-Mar). Very little is known about this bizarre rock monastery the cave was probably inhabited as far back as the 5th century BC, but what remains today was created during the 13th and 14th centuries. The monastery was used by monks from the Hesychast order until the 18th century, but was not discovered again until 1928. Stairs and walkways lead to and around these astonishing caves,...

Pop

Tiny Shiroka Luka, hugging the forested road between Smolyan and Devin, is famed for its three arching bridges and 19th-century National Revival homes. This hamlet has few services, but does have a tourist office ( 233 www.rhodope.net S 9am-5pm) near the square, providing general information and maps, including the useful Western Rhodope Mountains map (1 100,000). Staff can book private rooms in Shiroka Luka and surrounding villages, such as tiny Gela (7km north), legendary birthplace of...

BUDGET

The Tourist Information Centre (p 171) finds private rooms (25 lv to 35 lv for a single double). For atmosphere, stay near the Samovodska Charshiya Complex (pi 78) in the Varosha district, along the lower (southeastern) end of ul Gurko, or near Tsarevets Fortress. Hikers Hostel ( 0889691661, 0887098279 www .hlkershostel.org ul Rezervoarska 91 tent dm d incl breakfast 12 20 50 Iv (B)) Tarnovo's most laid-back hostel, Hikers is run by the energetic Toshe Hristov, who is constantly transferring...

Customs

Whether you're inspected by customs officers depends on how you enter the country but bona fide tourists are generally left alone. If you're travelling between Bulgaria and another EU country, then normal EU rules on what you can import or export apply. You are allowed to bring into Bulgaria gifts up to the value of 175, plus up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 1L of spirits, 2L of wine and 50ml of perfume. If you enter or leave the country with more than 8000 lv on you in any currency , you must...

Unusual Souvenirs

If you're looking for a souvenir of your time among the Bulgars and garish trinket boxes and amateur daubs of twee, timber-framed houses just won't do, there are plenty of more tasteful mementos for you to pick up. Hand-painted icons make a particularly evocative reminder of your stay though often expensive, they do involve a huge amount of skill and time. How about a patterned chergal These traditional, hand-woven rugs make a colourful addition to any room and, again, involve a great deal of...

Sights Activities

Silistra's prime position on the Danube has attracted a bewildering amount of invaders and occupants, from Thracians, Romans, Greeks, Bulgars, Russians, Romanians and Turks, all of whom built citadels and fortresses in or near the town. The ruins of the ancient Roman city of Durostorum, one of Silistra's previous incarnations, lie along the street between the mall and river. The Turkish Medzhitabiya Fortress built in 1848 is closed but the forested park surrounding it offers relaxed hiking. The...

TRAIN

Most visitors travel to from Romania by train and either start from or go through Ruse. The Bulgaria Express runs between Sofia and Moscow, via Bucharest and Kiev, daily. The journey from Sofia to Bucharest takes around 12 hours. Every day in summer, a train from Burgas and another from Varna connects with a train leaving Ruse for Bucharest 15 hours , which carries on towards Prague. Also, every day in summer the Sofia-Saratov service travels to Bucharest. It departs from Sofia at 3.20pm and...

Open Market

Kazanlak's pazar or open market see the boxed text, opposite is a very entertaining, dusty, all-purpose place that offers a truly characteristic Balkan shopping experience -if you happen to be around on a Tuesday or Friday, the market's busiest days, make sure to stop by. Hadzhi Eminova Kashta 62 595 bul Nikola Petkov 22 s d apt 20 25 40 Iv This established guesthouse offers big, traditionally furnished rooms featuring woollen quilts, and overlooking an authentic 19th-century walled compound....

Info

Major military defeats inflicted on the Turks by the Austrian army encourage widespread armed revolt in northern Bulgaria, but the Second Tarnovo Uprising - as it became known - is swiftly put down. A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich is an absorbing overview of the medieval Byzantine Empire by one of the world's leading experts in the field. The Crusade of Varna 1443-45 by Colin Imber is a thorough academic investigation into this calamitous period, including eyewitness...

Montana Mohtaha

The main transport hub for Chiprovtsi or Lopushanski Monastery, this prosaic large town set between Vratsa and Vidin has nothing in common with its accidental American namesake. There are manageable rooms at the Montana Hotel 626 803 pi Slaveikov s d with TV 30 40 Iv if you choose to linger, though an overnight stay is not really warranted. That said, one pleasant enough local diversion along the road from Montana to Lopushanski Monastery is the Montana Reservoir, popular for swimming and...

Around Rila Monastery St Lukes Hermitage St Ivans Cave

About 3.7km northeast of Rila Monastery, on the road to Kiril Meadow, a left-hand trail leads to St Luke's Hermitage look for Sveti Ivan's picture by the steps. Built in 1798, the hermitage features a large courtyard and the Church of Sveti Luka. Take the trail for about 15 minutes to St Ivan's Cave, where Ivan Rilski lived and is buried. Legend states that anyone able to pass through the aperture in the cave's roof has not sinned the generous size of the hole would seem to indicate that...

Wine Routes

This tour takes you through Bulgaria's most famous wine-producing regions, and to wineries where you can sample some of the country's best vino. Start in Varna, at the sumptuous Chateau Euxinograde p66 . Here, at the former Bulgarian royal palace, you can marvel at its century-old wine cellar while sampling a delicate white from the Black Sea coastal plain. From here, head west along the Danube to atmospheric Ruse p267 , where you can try a glass or two of northern Bulgaria's signature red,...

Getting There Away

Buses leave from the well-organised and helpful main bus station 884 009 , known as the tsentralna aftogara, and from the adjacent Chastna Aftogara 831 132 , which has buses to Sofia, Sandanski, Gotse Delchev, Petrich, Dupnitsa and Plovdiv. Ascertain which station you need when buying the ticket. The main bus station also has a left-luggage office S 6am-7pm,per bag 0.50 lv . Buses travel hourly 6.30am to 6pm from Blagoevgrad to Sofia 7 lv, two hours via Dupnitsa, but more come through en route...

Eating Drinking

Starata Kashta ul Studenska 2 mains 4-7 Iv S 4.30pm-2am Also known as the Pamporovata Kashta, this place offers a short menu of grills and salads. The attractive National Revival-style house built in 1840 has a few rough-hewn, log cabin-style outdoor tables and benches. It's up the steps from bul Bulgaria. Rodopski Kat bul Bulgaria 3 mains 5-8 Iv S 7am-2am This new restaurant, wedged between the Hotel Smolyan and Hotel Kiparis, is excellent for traditional Rodopean fare. Riben Dar 63 220 ul...

The Enchanted Pipe Of Bai Mihail

Near the end of WWI, a young man from Chepelare named Mihail was dispatched to the front, along with six fellow Rodopean friends. Bulgaria had been at war almost continuously for six years, and the exhausted, dismayed young men resolved to desert. However, they were caught by the military police, and condemned to death for treason. When told to make his final request before being executed, Mihail said 'Just bring me my gayda so I can play one last song.' The goatskin bagpipe was duly brought,...

Pripoden Park

Also known as Kyoshkovete Park, this large, 3930-hectare park on Shumen's western edge has some modest, shaded hiking trails. You'll see and hear the humming of the city's most famous product being made at the nearby Shumensko Pivo Brewery. Days of Shumen Cultural Festival Mid-May Watermelon Festival Last Sunday in August Hotel Pazara 0887292756 ul Maritsa 15 d 30-40 Iv JJ The plain Pazara, just north of bul Simeon Veliki, is simply a set of clean but characterless rooms some with shared...

Wonders Of Nature Unexplored Treasures Of The Kotel Area

With its magnificent setting amidst gorgeous mountains and forests, Kotel is an ideal base for hiking, caving, bird-watching and other outdoor activities. Several villages around it, such as Zheravna, Katunishte and Medven, though smaller and less developed than Kotel, are increasingly becoming popular for their proximity to various unique and captivating natural attractions. First of all, if coming to Kotel from Sliven, make sure to drive or take a bus that follows the mountain road, and not...

HIKING

Hiking from Maliovitsa involves a network of hizhas that lead to and from what seem to be foreign visitors' favourite southwestern natural attraction, the Seven Rila Lakes Sedemte Rilski Ezera . These glittering turquoise lakes, small but exquisitely beautiful, are strung out like jewels across rolling meadows in the central Rila Mountains. While Maliovitsa's hiking trails heading there are well-marked, consider buying Kartografia's detailed Rila map. Reaching the lakes, and their hizha...

Festivals Events

International Plovdiv Fair mid-May amp late September Week-long festival held in the massive fairgrounds Map pi40 553 146 bul Tsar Boris III Obedinitel 37 , located north of the river. Cultural Month Festival late May-mid-July Performances and exhibits of opera, literature, painting and events celebrating the greatness of Bulgarian history. Verdi Festival earlyJune Two-weekfestivalof opera concerts in the Roman amphitheatre, featuring Bulgarian and international singers. International Festival...

BUS

The Yug bus station 828 151 ul Pristanishtna , about 2.5km south of the city centre, has regular buses to Sofia 10 lv, five hours , Veliko Tarnovo 5 lv, two hours , Burgas 11 lv, AVi hours , Shumen 5.40 lv, two hours , Varna 11 lv, four hours and Plovdiv 12 lv, six hours . Also, one or two daily public buses go to Gabrovo and Pleven, and two to Dobrich. Buses and minibuses leave for Silistra 5 lv, about two hours every hour or so. To get to the station, take trolleybus 25 or bus 11 or 12 from...

Serbia

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Glossary

For food and drink terms see the Food amp Drink chapter p55 . For general terms see the Language chapter p309 . aleya - alley, lane apteka - chemist or pharmacy avtogara - bus station Balkantourist - the former government-run tourism organisation balneology - therapeutic bath of mineral waters, often enjoyed in a balneocentre banya - bath often signifies mineral baths in general BDZh - abbreviation forthe Bulgarian State Railways besplaten - free of charge bul - abbreviation of bulevard main...

Hiking In The Sredna Gora

The Sredna Gora Central Range mountains are spread over 6000 sq km from Iskar Gorge near Sofia to the Tundzha Valley south of Yambol . The highest peak is Mt Bogdan 1603m near Koprivshtitsa. The Mountains of Bulgaria by Julian Perry provides a detailed description of the popular two-or three-day hike from Hisar Hisarya to Koprivshtitsa or vice versa . No dedicated map of the Sredna Gora is available, but most of the mountains and hiking routes are included in the map of Stara Planina that is...

Varna Bapha

Near Bus Terminus Gozo

Bulgaria's third city and maritime capital, Varna is by far the most interesting and cosmopolitan town on the Black Sea coast, and a definite highlight of the region. A strange yet harmonious combination of port city, naval base and seaside resort, it's an appealing place to while away a few days, packed with history yet thoroughly modern, with an enormous park to amble round and a lengthy beach to lounge on. One of the most dynamic and fast-growing Bulgarian cities, it has experienced a...

Kavarna Kabapha

Kavarna, 17km east of Balchik, is a sleepy administrative town of little interest itself, although today it's famous in Bulgaria as the venue for the Kaliakra Rock Fest www.kaliakrarock fest.com , which attracts international acts every June, and its small beach is pleasant enough. It's also the most practical base for anyone wishing to explore the Kaliakra Cape opposite . The pedestrianised ul Dobrotitsa, running south from the bus station, is where you'll find the post office, banks and caf...

Other Sights

The Church of Uspenie Bogorodichno Church of the Dormition of the Virgin on ul Dimcho Debelyanov, built in 1817, is usually closed, but visitors can peer through the window and wander around the gardens. The church grounds contain Kableshkov'sgrave, and, in the upper section, Debelyanov's grave. A poignant statue features Debelyanov's mother anxiously awaiting his return, and reads 'I die and am yet born again in light.' Beside the park along ul Hadzhi Nencho Palaveev is the Sveta Kiril amp...

Pelelanovska Konak

The tourist offices in Chepelare or Smolyan can book private rooms in Chepelare from 20 lv per person with shared bathroom . Hotel prices increase significandy in winter. Hotel Phoenix 3408 ul Murgavets 4 s d 15 30 Iv About 200m up ul Vasil Dechev from the square, the Phoenix offers simple, spotless rooms with TV, along with a traditional restaurant. Hotel Savov 2036 ul Vasil Dechev 7 d tr apt from 30 40 50 Iv g Opposite the Hebros Bank, this comfortable place offers large, airy doubles, and...

ToFrom Romania

The Ruse-based company Ovonesovi 821 964 runs two minibuses to Bucharest daily, leaving the Yug bus station at 6.30am and 2pm. Tickets are 20 lv one-way or 30 lv return. Buy them either at the station or at Ovonesovi's office on pi Borisova, in front of city hall on the corner of ul Panov. These buses return from Romania at 10.30am and 4.15pm from the Hotel Horoskop on Bucharest's Piazza Uniri. A Romanian company also runs two daily buses from Ruse to Bucharest, at 11.30am and 4.30pm for...

Art Galleries

Plovdiv's large and thriving artistic community continues creating and sustaining the city's many galleries - already bursting with the fruits of 200 years of Bulgarian painting. On 28 September each year, the magical Night of the Galleries sees every Plovdiv gallery open, for free, from 8pm to 3am. Encho Pironkov City Gallery of Fine Arts Map p142 ul Vasil Konchev 1 admission 1 lv S9am-12.30pm amp 1 -5.30pmMon-Fri, 10am-5.30pmSat displays Bulgarian modern art. It's down a small laneway...

Sights

The Madara National Historical amp Archaeological Reserve 2095 adult student4 1 Iv S 8.30am-7,30pm surrounds the so-called Madara Horseman Madarski Konnik . Carved into a cliff 23m above the ground, the bas-relief features a mounted figure spearing a lion and followed by a dog. It was an early-8th-century creation, made to commemorate the victorious Khan Tervel, and, more profoundly, the creation of the First Bulgarian Empire 681-1018 . As Bulgaria's only known medieval rock carving, it's...

Buying Property In Bulgaria

The Bulgarian property market is booming as never before prices rose by as much as 27 in the second quarter of 2007 - the second-highest recorded rise anywhere in the world - and they show no sign of dipping. Prices are being pushed up by foreign investors Brits especially have been flocking to the country in search of holiday homes, lured by low prices and the promise of long, hot summers by the sea, snowy winters in the expanding ski resorts and rustic country idylls. By Western standards,...

Celebrations

Festivals throughout Bulgaria invariably involve eating and drinking, and there are often particular meals prepared for each holiday. One age-old custom is the baking of special loaves of bread, for example for saints' days, each marked with a distinctive design and used in some elaborate ritual you'll see these displayed in ethnographic museums. On 28 February Horse Easter , for example, women in rural communities traditionally bake bread in the shape of horseshoes, which are then fed to...

Hostels

Hostel Turisticheska Spalnya Map p88 s 983 6181 www.ts-hostel.com ul TsarSimeon 63 dm dfrom 9 14 This bright, clean hostel is in a great central location and offers pleasant, high-ceilinged dorms of between three and five beds, as well as a double room and modern bathrooms. Sofia Backpackers' Inn Map p88 S 9831672 www .sofiabackpackersinn.dir.bg ul Struma 6 dm d ind breakfast from 9 25 S Small, friendly hostel, with English-speaking staff, on a quiet side street off bul Maria Luisa. There are a...

Sveti Vlas Cbeth Bjac

Just 5km north of Sunny Beach Slanchev Bryag , Sveti Vlas is one of the latest holiday resort developments on the Black Sea coast. Originally settled by the Thracians, who called it Larisa, it was renamed in honour of the patron saint of cattle farmers in the 14th century, but there are few obvious signs of its history today. Instead, everywhere you look, a new multistorey hotel or apartment complex is shooting up, and in 2007 Bulgaria's first private marina, with space for 300 yachts, was...