Bulgaria, a country that’s both old and new:
Bulgaria can be said to be a country that’s very old as well as very new. It’s ancient history dates back to the Old Stone Age period of the 1st millenium B.C. and yet it wasn’t until 1989 that it broke away from the Eastern Bloc and became an independent country, with its new Constitution being enacted in 1991. From this time on, Bulgaria’s race to modernise itself included full membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2004 and in 2007 it joined the European Union.
Bulgaria is a country that has gone through centuries of foreign invasion and occupation. A visit to Bulgaria therefore provides the possibility to explore its history from pre-historic times through to the period of the Alexander the Great, the harsh Ottoman period and then through its days as part of the Eastern Bloc.
However, Bulgaria is more than a destination for history buffs only. It’s scenic landscape and sightseeing options make this an ideal destination all year around. So unique are its historic heritage that several landmarks have been included in the UNESCO heritage listing. Some of these are:
- Rila Monastery – The most impressive monastery compound in Bulgaria with exceptional architectural and artistic merits. Its setting is like something out of Shangri-La
- Nessebur – The old part of the town with its architectural, historical and archaeological reserve
- Sveshtari Tomb – A Thracian tomb from the first half of the 3rd century B.C.
- Kazanluk Tomb – Another Thracian tomb, dating to the late 4th to early 3rd century B.C.
- Ivanovo Rock Churches – A rock monastery compound of the Holy Archangel Michael, with partially preserved churches
- Boyana Church – Noted for its unique murals
Summer and Winter Activities
In summer, Bulgaria’s beach resorts, with its crystal blue waters, are a huge attraction for European tourists who come in search of sun, sea, sand .. and cheap beer! Costs are still relatively cheap in Bulgaria and all along the beach resorts you’ll see ads touting cheap beer. An added attraction for tourists include the extremely cheap seaside real estate. Visit Sunny Beach and you’ll see lots of low quality high-rise blocks with huge advertisements listing prices as low as 50,000 Euros.
Other activities in summer include cycling, mountain climbing, hiking, golfing, hunting and paragliding.
In winter, Bulgaria’s high mountains turn into picturesque and perfect ski slopes. Borovets in the Rila Mountains is the oldest and biggest mountain resort in Bulgaria. Other popular ski resorts are Pamporovo (in the Rhodopi Mountains) which also runs a premium ski school, Vitosha which is home of Bulgaria’s National Ski School and the modern resort of Bansko, situated at the foothills of the Pirin Mountain in southwest Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is a country that is quickly being discovered by the travel world and if you’re looking for a destination that’s not yet over-run by mass market tourism, don’t leave your visit too late!
To see photos from our Bulgaria albums click here.Your Turn: Do you have any advice you would like to share? What tips would you like to add? Please comment below.