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OUR COUNTRIES: BULGARIA

Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a European, Balkan, Black Sea and Danube country. This geographic location places it on the crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa.

The first Bulgarian state was recognised in 681 AD 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.

It was long influenced by Byzantine culture and then was part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years before gaining its independence in the 19th century.

After the Second World War, Bulgaria came under the political and economic influence of the USSR. The democratic changes in Bulgaria started at the end of 1989, when multi-party elections were held and a new constitution was adopted. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.

What to visit

Belogradchik rocks and fortress
The Belogradchik Rocks are one of the most amazing creations of Nature not only in Bulgaria but also around the world. The ancient Romans built a fort among the Belogradchik rocks which was later used by the Bulgarians and the Ottoman Turks

 

Tsarevets fortress
Both Veliko Tarnovo hills – Tsarevets and Trapezitsa and the fortresses situated around them, represent the power and majesty of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185–1393). The fortress complex includes the Royal Palace, the fortress walls, the Patriarchal Church and Baldwin’s Tower, named after the Latin Emperor Baldwin of Flanders, captured during the Battle of Adrianople in 1205 by Tsar Kaloyan.

 

Madara Horseman
Carved on a massive cliff some 23 metres high, it is representative of early Medieval Bulgarian artistry. The relief depicts a horseman in a natural pose with a sword in his hand. At the feet of the horse is a lion, and behind the rider is depicted his hunting dog. The stone relief is the only one of its kind in Europe. In 1979, it was included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and in 2008 it was chosen as the national symbol of Bulgaria.

 

What to eat
The Bulgarian cuisine is rich in delightful 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 banitsa (it is a made of dough with various fillings, such as cheese, spinach, rice, and meat), Danube fish soup and Sozopol-style mussels.

Those with a sweet tooth to be satisfied should head instead to the bakeries (sladkarnica): they offer an array of cakes, such as honey-drenched baklava, halva made with semolina and pistachios, cream tart or chocolate, tikvenik made with squash.

Wine has been known in the land of Bulgaria since ancient times. Archaeology, folklore and literature provide ample evidence that wine grapes have thrived in these lands ever since the late Stone Age. The delicate white wines Dimyat, Misket and Riesling are followed by full reds such as Merlot, Cabernet and Gamza.

Another very popular Bulgarian spirit is Rakia. It is made of grapes or other fruits – plums, apricots, figs, pears, and others.

Interesting FACTS

Bulgarians shake their heads to mean yes and nod for no.

The inventor of the first electronic computer, Professor John Vincent Atanassoff of the Iowa State University, had Bulgarian origins.

The first digital watch in the world was also invented by a Bulgarian. His name was Peter Petrov.

The world’s oldest gold treasure, dating back more than 6 000 years, was discovered in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name since it was first established.
This happened in 681 AD.

The Bulgarian army has never lost a single flag in battle.

Assen Jordanoff, a renowned air craft engineer and one of the inventors of the airbag, was also of Bulgarian descent.

The famous Bulgarian rose oil is used for making some of the world’s most popular and expensive perfumes. One gram of rose oil is produced out of 1 000 rose blossoms.

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, was founded 7 000 years ago. This makes it the second oldest city in Europe.

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