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Situated in South Eastern Europe, with a beautiful coastline of 354km along the Black Sea rising to mountain ranges; Bulgaria is a varied country. Its sea water is very clean, not tidal and is bordered by long sandy beaches. The temperature of the Black Sea in summertime is actually warmer than the Mediterranean.
Bulgaria is roughly the same size as England, and is located on the Balkan Peninsula surrounded by the Black Sea to the east which links it also to Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia., Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the West, and Greece and Turkey to the South. This location provides numerous opportunities for easy travel to surrounding countries.
However, there is plenty to see within Bulgaria itself. Bulgaria contains fertile plains and beautiful wooded mountain ranges, including the Balkan range, Rhodopes Mountains and Rila. Places to explore include the Black Sea coast and its villages and resorts, mountain trails and ski resorts, and countless villages and monasteries all over the country.
The Black Sea shoreline is 378 km (240 miles) long. The country's total territory is 111,000 sq. km (43,000 sq. miles) in area.
Bulgaria's terrain varies between 0 and 2,925 m. in altitude. Its territory includes part of the lower Danubian plain, the Balkan range (part of the Alpine-Himalayan chain), part of the Thracian lowland, and to the south the mountain structures of the Macedonian-Thracian massif.
Its best known mountains are Rhodopes (Golyam Perelik peak 2,191 m.), Rila (its highest peak being Musala 2,925 m.), Pirin (Vihren peak 2,914 m.), Vitosha (Cherni Vrah peak 2,291 m.) and the Stara Planina (i.e., the Balkan range) (Botev peak 2,376 m.).
The mountains occupy half of the country's territory, with the high mountain relief i.e., at an altitude above 1,600 m., comprising 5% of its entire area. The Bulgarian mountains are easily accessible, and the towns and villages have preserved the authentic Bulgarian spirit and hospitality.
The rivers rise mainly in the highest mountains, and flow into the Black Sea (via the Danube) and into the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria has 526 rivers longer than 2.3 km. The only navigable river is the Danube, which flows along the northern Bulgarian border. There are good opportunities for adventure tourism: wild water rafting and canoeing, diving, delta- and para-gliding in the valleys of the Vatcha, Iskar, Chepelarska, Struma, and Mesta rivers.
Natural lakes are about 330 in number; the largest are the Black Sea lakes (Alepou, Arkoutino, Pomorie, Beloslav, Bourgas, Varna, Shabla lakes); the most numerous (more than 260) are the high glacial lakes in the Rila and Pirin mountains. Dams have been built as a part of waterpower systems Iskar, Arda, Batak Water Power System, Belmeken-Sestrimo, Dospat-Vucha, and a great number of smaller dams.
Bulgaria has some 500 deposits of mineral waters with more than 1,600 water sources. These are localised chiefly at the mountain foothills. The spa resorts of national significance are Bankya, Velingrad, Sandanski, the mineral baths of Stara Zagora, Narechen, Sliven and Haskovo, as well as Kyustendil, Varshets, Pavel Banya, Hissarya, Merichleri, Momin Prohod, and Kostenets.
The Black Sea is very clean, not tidal, and is bordered by long, sandy beaches. Climatic sea-side resorts offering various recreation services are Balchik, Bourgas, Varna Zlatni Pyassatzi Golden Sands, Kiten, Pomorie, Primorsko, Nessebur Slantchev Bryag Sunny Beach, and Sozopol.
Picturesque lakes hide in the bowels of the Rila and Pirin mountains. Dam lakes of recreational potential are to be found in the Rhodope mountains Batak, Vatcha, Studen Kladenets; at the foot of the Balkan range Ticha, as well as in some other places.
Direct flights from UK take 2.5 hours to Sofia
Have had over 4,000,000 tourists between April-October
Currency fixed against the Euro
Economy expanding rapidly
Property prices now rising
Property price levels still well below other comparable countries
Export Industries: clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, food stuffs
Highly skilled English speaking work force
Europe’s most competitive wage levels monthly average gross salary of £ 145
Free movement of capital
No restrictions on after tax repatriation of profits
Free trade opportunities within a market of over 550 million consumers
Strategic geographic position as a bridge between Europe and Asia
Lower operational costs for real estate and water supply
The country is now a full member of NATO and the EU in 2007.
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Bulgaria has existed for more than 13 centuries. The Bulgarian people are one of the most ancient. The Bulgarian state was founded on the present day territory of Europe in 681 and ever since that time the name of the country has always been the same.
Thracians were the first settlers in the Bulgarian lands, and their civilisation is evidenced by numerous archaeological finds, tombs, gold and silver treasures. Evidence of the presence of life in prehistoric times exists in the best preserved Neolithic dwellings discovered world-wide – namely those near the town of Stara Zagora, in the Bacho Kiro cave near the town of Dryanovo, and in the Magurata cave, close to the town of Belogradchik.
What follows are some of the most significant dates and events in the history of Bulgaria:
AD 452. - The first written reference of the name “Bulgarians” is found in an anonymous Roman chronograph
AD 681 - 1018 - First Bulgarian kingdom
AD 864 - 866 - Bulgaria adopted Christianity
AD 885 - Cyril and Methodius created the Slavonic script
1018- 1185 - Bulgaria fell within the limits of the Byzantine Empire and Rule
1185 - Restoration of the Bulgarian state
1396 - 1878 - Bulgaria was under the Turkish Yoke
1878 - 1944 - Bulgaria was a constitutional monarchy
1944 - 1989 - Bulgaria was a people’s republic, governed by the communist party
1989 - Since the 10th of November1989, Bulgaria has been a parliamentary republic.
The history of Bulgaria is divided into four major periods:
First Bulgarian kingdom (AD 681 – 1018);
Second Bulgarian kingdom (AD 1185 – 1396);
Third Bulgarian kingdom (AD1878 – 1945) and Modern Bulgaria.
St Cyril & Methodius
First Bulgarian Kingdom AD 681:
The Bulgarian state was established one of the first ever European states. The first Bulgarian capital was Pliska. Its tzars (khans) Asparoukh, Krum the Dreadful (AD 803 – 814) and Omurtag (AD 852 – 831), turned it into a mighty power in south-eastern Europe.
AD 855 The Saints Cyril and Methodius, brothers, created the Slavonic alphabet.
AD 865 Prince St. Boris (AD 852 – 907) did away with paganism, and introduced Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the official religion in Bulgaria. In AD 865 he moved the capital from Pliska to Veliki Preslav (Great Preslav). The Byzantine Empire recognised him as tzar of the Bulgarians.
AD 893 – 927 Under the reign of Tzar Simeon (the Great), son of Tzar Boris I, the Bulgarian kingdom became the largest in the territory and the most powerful in Europe. The “golden age” of Bulgarian culture set in.
AD 1018 Emperor Basil II conquered Bulgaria and turned it into a province of the Byzantine empire.
Second Bulgarian Kingdom 1185-1396:
The era of the Second Bulgarian kingdom, which came into being after a successful uprising by the Bulgarian aristocracy. The reign of the Assen dynasty began. They proclaimed the town of Turnovo as capital. John-Assen II (1218 – 1241) was the best known and most powerful ruler of the period of the Second Bulgarian kingdom.
1396 – Bulgaria fell entirely under Ottoman domination.For five centuries Bulgaria was a province of the Ottoman Empire. During the conquest the aristocracy was destroyed, the Bulgarian administration was done away with, the Bulgarian Church was deprived of autocephaly and partriarchical rank, and was placed under the patriarchy of Constantinople.
1652 – The beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival. Monk Paissii of the Hilendar monastery (on Mount Athos) wrote the book Slav-Bulgarian History.
1870 – Start of the organised national liberation movement.
1876 – The April uprising of the enslaved Bulgarian people broke out. It was put down in a sea of blood, but caused a notable international response of indignation at Turkish tyranny.
1877-1878 – The war of Russian-Turkish Liberation, in which Bulgaria gave many lives for the sake of freedom.
King Ferdinand I
Third Bulgarian Kingdom:
The Third Bulgarian state began with the San Stefano peace agreement, signed on 3 March 1878. On the basis of that agreement Bulgaria regained the territories of the three historic and ethnic Bulgarian regions, namely Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. Bulgaria became the largest Balkan country.
13 July 1878 – The treaty of Berlin was signed, on the basis of which newly liberated Bulgaria was divided into the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, and a large portion of Bulgarian lands was sequestered, to remain under Ottoman domination.
16 April 1879 – The Turnovo Constitution was passed solemnly by the First Grand National Assembly.
26 June 1879 – Alexander Battenberg became prince of Bulgaria, and Sofia the capital of the new Bulgarian state.
6 September 1885 – Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia (the real liberation of Bulgaria).
22 September 1908 – King Ferdinand I proclaimed Bulgaria’s full independence from Turkish rule.
After the restoration of national statehood in 1878 Bulgaria was a constitutional monarchy with a democratic government and a rapidly developing economy. The process of successful growth was curtailed as a result of the adventurism of king Ferdinand I, which led to the catastrophes of 1913, when the country had to wage simultaneous wars against Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, and Romania, and of 1918, during the war against the Entente countries.
1923 and 1934 – Democratically elected governments were toppled by coups d’état that brought authoritarian regimes to power.
1941 – Bulgaria entered World War II on the side of the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis. Bulgaria was the only ally of Hitler's Germany which did not allow the killing of its Jewish citizens. It was thanks to King Boris III and the Bulgarian government that no hostilities were waged on its territory.
1944 – After Word War II, as a result of the Yalta agreement between the Great Powers, Bulgaria fell under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.
1953-1989 – Years of the communist rule of Todor Zhivkov who headed both the party and the state.
10 November 1989 – Under the pressure of domestic and international circumstances Todor Zhivkov was forced to resign. Bulgaria once again embarked on the road to democratic development.
7 December 1989 – The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) was formed as a unification of 13 opposition organisations.
10-17 June 1990 – First free parliamentary elections.
12 July 1991 – A new democratic Constitution was passed.
13 October 1991 – First free local authority elections.
January 1992 – First free presidential elections. Zhelyu Zhelev was elected as head of state.
3 November 1996 – Petar Stoyanov, proposed by the UDF, was elected with a landslide majority as President of the Republic of Bulgaria.
19 April 1997 – The Parliamentary elections were won by the Democratic Forces United (DFU). A government was formed, headed by Ivan Kostov as Prime Minister. Bulgaria started on the road to genuine democratic reforms.
Parliament is currently headed by Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg who is the only monarch in the world that has been chosen by his people to take on a post that was not given to him by right of succession. Having become King at the age of 6 he was then exiled at the age of nine only to return to Bulgaria some 55 years later to be
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The World Register of Historical Sites established by UNESCO, includes seven cultural sites and two nature reserves in Bulgaria.
The tomb was discovered in 1982 under a large hill. It dates back to the 3rd century B.C. It consists of three chambers - an entrance chamber and two antechambers. It is covered by a mound.
This 3rd century B.C. Thracian tomb reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings. The decoration of the burial chamber is exceptionally interesting, a unique blend of art and architecture.
The stone architrave, around the walls, is supported by ten caryatids. The wall opposite the door is painted in navy blue crayon and depicts the heroicisation of the deceased.
The central chamber is richly ornamented. The chamber was decorated as a facade of a temple with depicted horseman who takes a golden garland from the hands of a goddess with a religious procession following her. The three walls have high relief with 10 caryatides
It is situated in Northern Bulgaria, near the town of Isperih.
One of the most famous monuments of Thracian culture, included in the World Register of Historical Sites, in 1979, was discovered in 1944.
A corridor, 1.95 m in length, 1.12 m in width and 2.24 m in height leads to a domed tomb, 3.25 m in height and 2.65 m in diameter at the base.The building material is brick, used two centuries later by the Romans. The frame is of blocks of stone and clay is used as bonding material. It is situated in the southern part of a mound, at ground level.
The entrance is from the south side. The tomb became world famous for its unique mural, done in wet fresco and tempera. The artistic decoration covers an area of 40 square meters and is an extraordinary art gallery, taking the visitor a long way back in time. The pictures show battles and scenes from daily life, realistically displayed, with great dynamism and details in the clothing and armour.
The scenes of a funeral procession, the musicians, the Thracian ruler and his wife, the chariots, the horses and other depictions are all very interesting. The tomb dates from the late 4th century - early 3rd century B.C. Nearby an exact copy has been built for tourists. The Thracian tomb is situated in the north-eastern part of Kazanlak
The Madara Horseman
This is a rare monument, dating from the 8th – 9th century A.D. It is a unique symbol of young Bulgaria
An unusual place - a plateau rises in the middle of a plain which, when viewed from the west, resembles a petrified waterfall. The anonymous sculptor carved a relief of a majestic horseman 23 m above ground level in an almost vertical hundred-metre high cliff. The horseman is thrusting a spear into a lion lying at his horse's feet, while holding a wine cup in the other hand. There is a god behind the rider and a dog runs after the mysterious horseman.
The rock cliff is one hundred metres high. Low down, in the crevices and small caves, man lived in prehistoric times. In antiquity the Thracian tribes inhabited the plain. There was an ancient Thracian sanctuary in the large open cave under the rocks, which is known today as the Nymphs' Cave. Succulent plants and trickles of water fill this place with the natural juices of life respected by the Thracians and inhabited by their gods. Monumental in design and execution, this symbol of Bulgarian statesmanship is the only one of its kind in the whole of Europe.
The Madara Horseman is situated near the village of Madara - 14 km from the town of Shoumen
Sofia, Boyana Church
It is one of the most important and valuable antiquities of exceptional historical and artistic significance.
It is one of the most important and valuable antiquities of exceptional historical and artistic significance. It is situated at the foot of the mountain of Vitosha. The oldest part of the church dates back to the early 11th century. According to an original manuscript, in 1295 the two - store part of the church was built and the rest was added in the middle of the 19th century.
The most interesting part of the monument are the murals done in 1259. The frescoes are rich in tone. The artist skilfully combines the requirements of iconographical canons with real life. 89 scenes are depicted, containing 240 human images - a real art gallery of the 13th century. The portraits of the founder of the church - patron Kaloian and his wife Desislava and of prince Konstantin and his wife Irina are the supreme peak of the skill of the artist. The monument was included in the World Register of Historical and Natural Sites in 1979.
Rock Monasteries - Ivanovo
This is an area where a number of medieval churches, monastic cells and chapels were carved on both sides of the river Lom.
This is an area where a number of medieval churches, monastic cells and chapels were carved on both sides of the river Lom. A colony of hermits lived here from the 3rd century to the 17th century. The natural vesicles in the Karst rocks were widened and moulded to meet the needs of the colony. The chambers are at a height of 6-10m. and are connected by series of stairs, passages and galleries.
The walls are covered with pictures of biblical themes and compositions with many figures. Great artistic value, a refined colour scheme and admirable skill is displayed. The partly conserved frescoes are evidence of the notable achievements of the Bulgarian medieval art school. The remaining scriptures emphasise the significance of the literary school which developed in this area. The monasteries were included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1979.
The Rock Monasteries - Ivanovo are situated 20 km from the town of Rousse
The Rila Monastery
This monastery is a holy place for all Bulgarians, for it preserved their pride, national identity, faith and hope through the centuries.
This monastery is a holy place for all Bulgarians, for it preserved their pride, national identity, faith and hope through the centuries. It was founded in the 10th century by followers of the Bulgarian hermit saint Ivan Rilski. The monastery is one of the most significant cultural centres in Bulgaria, where through the centuries intensive spiritual, educational and creative activities flourished. It was in close contact with spiritual centres abroad. After a devastating fire, the monastery was completely rebuilt in the 19th century. It is the biggest renaissance monument in Bulgaria.
The Monastery is still in use. There is a sumptuous library, a historical museum and a museum exhibition with a few subjects. The church was painted by the most famous representatives of the Bulgarian renaissance artistic school. The Rila monastery was included in the UNESCO World Register of Historical Sites in 1983.
Situated on a peninsula in the Black Sea, connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, this is a town with a history going back millennia.
Situated on a peninsula in the Black Sea, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus, this is a town with a history going back millennia. Each era has left its permanent marks and today the town is unique. A huge museum displays the way of life of the different people that have inhabited it. On this tiny island castle walls from Thracian times, defensive structures, private and public buildings from the Hellenistic period, medieval churches and renaissance buildings combine to form a unique atmosphere. Nearby is the famous sea resort of "Slunchev Briag".
The churches were built during the early Byzantine period (5th and 6th centuries) and during the middle ages (10th to 14th centuries). The oldest of them are the basilicas, cruciform, with a single nave. The murals from the 14th to the 18th centuries have an exceptional historic and artistic value, displaying the traditions and craftsmanship of the artisans and icon-painters of that time. Old Nessebar was included in the World Register of Historical Sites in 1983
Sreburna Nature Reserve
Sreburna Nature Reserve was included in the list of the biosphere nature reserves under the aegis of UNESCO in 1977 and in 1983 it was included in the World Register of Natural Heritage.
Sreburna" was included in the list of the biosphere nature reserves under the aegis of UNESCO in 1977 and in 1983 it was included in the World Register of Natural Heritage. It is situated in Northern Bulgaria, at the delta of the river Danube. It is a lake, 1.5 m deep, fed by water from the river and Karst water. The temperature of the water during winter is 0°C, and in the summer up to 28°C. The natural habitat favours the growth of a wide variety of animal and plant species. Of great interest are the 160 species of birds, 90 of which nest and breed here. "Sreburna" is a stopping place for many migratory birds. It possesses one of the 4 known colonies of the curly-headed pelican in Europe. There is also a considerable colony of herons and other rare water birds. There are many species of mammals, river animals, different plants. The reserve covers an area of 800 hectares. In the vicinity there is a Nature museum and an Ecological research station.
The Sreburna Nature Reserve is situated 15 km from the town of Silistra.
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When Bulgarians nod their heads up and down, they mean NO. When they move their heads from side to side, they mean YES.
High European standards high value for money
1 bottle of table wine – £1.50
1 bottle of quality wine – £3.50
1 pint of beer – 90 pence
Three course meal for two with wine – £10.50
Tipping is now generally expected at between 10-15% of the bill. In any event don't always expect to get the exact change as often the bill is rounded up to the nearest complete unit of currency!
Smoking is a very common habit among Bulgarians and non-smoking sections in restaurants are quite rare. A new law is change this in 2005, but it is still doubtful how effectively it will be implemented.
Driving In Bulgaria
Cars are allowed to cross any of the many border points to enter Bugaria. Any national drivers license is valid. Insurance coverage for Bulgaria is required, and can be arranged from home or purchased at the border.
Make sure to choose a reliable company, like OK Supertrans (call 973 2121 from Sofia) or Yes & Yellow, Radio CB Taxi or Taxi C Express. See that the driver turns on the meter at the start of the journey and try to keep an eye on the figures that sometimes may seem to be running unusually fast. On arrival at your destination point always demand a printed receipt for the fare since drivers are bound by the law to issue such.
Bulgaria is linked by train to Istanbul, Thessaloniki and Athens in Greece, Belgrade, Bucharest, and points on such as Budapest. Veliko Turnovo is on the route of the Orient Express from Bucharest to Istanbul.
Toilet facilities are improved compared to 10 years ago, but still some can be rather off-putting, particularly in older establishments and outside the larger cities. Most modern gas stations, restaurants, hotels and bars have facilities of an acceptable standard. But elsewhere you may be confronted by nothing more than a hole in the floor, and no toilet paper. Always carry Kleenex with you. Many places will charge you for the use of toilet facilities, usually in the 0.20 - 0.50 Leva range.
Exporting works of art and other objects of historic, artistic, or scientific value is forbidden.
Going To The Movies
Unlike other countries, going to the movies in Bulgaria is a foreigners-friendly experience. Cinemas show only sub-titled movies with their original soundtracks. The same applies to rented videocassettes. Only Disney features or other films made for children are usually dubbed.
January 1 New Year
March 3 Bulgaria's Liberation – National Holiday
May 1 Labour Day
May 24 the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and the Cyrillic Script
December 25 Christmas
Time GMT + 2. Bulgaria follows daylight saving time in summer.
Useful Phone Numbers
To call Bulgaria from the UK, dial + 359 plus the local number. Omit the 0 from the area code. (For example, to call Veliko Turnovo from the UK, you would dial + 359-62 plus the local number; to call from within Bulgaria you would dial 062 plus the number.) Pay phones in Bulgaria take telephone cards available at kiosks and shops: orange phones take Bulfon cards and blue phones take Mobika cards.
0123 - operator for international calls (if no direct phone call is possible)
121 - operator for long-distance calls within the country
140 - sending of telegrams
144 - telephone information service for office phone numbers
145 - telephone information service for home numbers
146 - Emergency Road Service
150 - Emergency Medical Aid
166 - Police/Road patrols
175 - weather forecast
180 - exact time ("speaking" clock)
Wine in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Regions can be geographically divided into five wine producing regions as follows:
Covering the territory along the Black Sea coast between the Northern border with Romania and the Southernmost point on the Black Sea coast where Bulgaria borders Turkey. The wines from the Eastern region are made mostly from white grapes. Almost all renowned white grape varieties can be found along with the native Misket and Dimiat.
Between the Danube river and the Balkan mountain range from North to South and between the Dobrudzha Valley and the Yugoslav border from East to West respectively. High quality wines are produced from a number of different grapes, red as well as white. The reds are made from the local Gamza as well as from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties. Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc are the most prominent whites. This region is home to the fine wineries of Suhindol and Rousse.
Southern Region includes the Thracian Valley from the Balkan Range to the Greek border that boasts almost Mediterranean climatic conditions and is particularly good for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot production. The best Bulgarian variety grape -Mavrud grows in the Thracian Valley. Reds coming from this region are renowned. Jambol and Haskovo are two fine examples.
South Western Region
South Western region covers what is known as Pirin Macedonia. The Struma Valley runs along it and brings strong Mediterranean influences in terms of climate. Fine Cabernets are produced there. The appellation of Melnik is home to the Melnik variety. Damianitza is a winery of note. Another interesting local variety is Keratzuda, a rose type wine produced only in the appellation of Kresna.
Sub Balkan Region
The Sub Balkan Region exists at the Southern area of the Balkan Mountains. These deep valleys produce unique micro-climates. The famous Sungurlare Misket comes from the region as well as the excellent Sungurlare Eau de Vie. White wines from different grapes are a local speciality. Slavjantzi is a popular winery from this region.
Bulgarian wine is characterised by its high quality and low prices; wines from Preslav, Novi Pazar, Suhin Dol, Melnik and Khan Krum (Shoumen Region) are regarded as the best, Sungularski Misket (dry white) is one preferred brand.
There are hundreds of Bulgarian folk songs about red wine, and only one about white: "why can't the white wine be red?" Red is drunk in the winter, white in the summer, both with almost everything!
The best red wines are produced from the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. High quality, rich, and Bordeaux-like. Local grapes include:
Gamza - Late ripening the most widespread type producing an earthy, light bodied red wine good for simple fare and everyday use. Distributed mainly in the central and northeastern part of Northern Bulgaria - Suhindol, Kramolin, Pleven and Novo Selo.
Mavrud - A full bodied, spicy red that can age to more than 8 years. Distributed in south Bulgaria - the regions of Assenovgrad, Plovdiv, Pazardjik, Chirpan, Stara and Nova Zagora. The leaf is large as is the grape coloured in dark blue. The wines produced from this variety are thick, well coloured and ideal for continuous ageing.
Melnik - Very late ripening red wine and its name from the region where it is most widely distributed - the town of Melnik. The leaf is large and slightly flattened. The grape is medium in size oval and juicy. The skin is thick, tough, coloured blue/black upon ripening with a thick wax coating. The wines are characterised with a dark red colour and thick. Upon continuous aging the taste improves further still.
Pamid - One of the oldest Bulgarian wine types with a middle to early ripening season. Distribution is greatest in southern Bulgaria. The wines produced from this type are characterised by a slightly coloured appearance with a lightness making for easy drinking!
White wines are produced from renowned varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling as well as from the local varieties of Red Misket and Vratza Misket, Ottonel and Dimiat which has a wide distribuition on the Black Sea coast in particular the regions of Shoumen, Preslav and Chirpan. Whites are not nearly as good as reds but they are improving constantly.
Wine making traditions have endured during the Middle Ages and the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. After liberation from the Ottoman, wine making prospered and fine wineries evolved such as Sjarovi Brothers for example. The wine cellar may also be a Bulgarian invention since Bulgarian monastic orders had first been reported to have stored wine in cool vaults deep under the ground level!
As a whole though Bulgaria has continued the traditions of South and East European wine making, producing light, often over oxidized wines for immediate consumption.
At the present time Bulgaria is now the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world, second only to France. It has four times the area planted with Cabernet Sauvignon of California and the industry is rapidly growing. The annual average production of wine in Bulgaria ranges between 200-220 million litres depending on the crop. In the Bulgarian wine industry, traditional classic technologies are applied, as well as refined, and modern ones borrowed from the leading wine producing countries like France.
Lakes & Rivers.
The rivers rise mainly in the highest mountains, and flow into the Black Sea (via the Danube) and into the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria has 526 rivers longer than 2.3 km. The only navigable river is the Danube, which flows along the northern Bulgarian border.
There are good opportunities for adventure tourism: wild water rafting and canoeing, diving, delta- and para-gliding in the valleys of the Vatcha, Iskar, Chepelarska, Struma, and Mesta rivers.
The Longest Rivers in Bulgaria
Natural lakes are about 330 in number; the largest are the Black Sea lakes (Alepou, Arkoutino, Pomorie, Beloslav, Bourgas, Varna, Shabla lakes); the most numerous (more than 260) are the high glacial lakes in the Rila and Pirin mountains.
Dams have been built as a part of waterpower systems – Iskar, Arda, Batak Water Power System, Belmeken-Sestrimo, Dospat-Vucha, and a great number of smaller dams
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International prestige is credited to a number of Bulgarian music festivals. The Sofia Music Weeks and the March Music Days further their traditions as centres of high performing art.
The traditional New Year’s Music Festival in Sofia, established by the much talented but early deceased conductor Emil Tchakarov, is held annually.
A number of concerts are organised also of popular Bulgarian orchestras and ensembles, pop, rock, and jazz performers.
Every large town in Bulgaria has an operatic and philharmonic company engaging in concert activities. The most popular and well established music festivals in Bulgaria of international renown are:
Music Weeks in Sofia.
Summer Festival in Varna
Verdi’s Festival in Plovdiv.
International Festival for contemporary music in Sofia, Muzika Nova;
International jazz festivals - Sofia, Rousse, Bansko;
International pop song festival, Golden Orpheus; Slantchev Bryag (Sunny beach)
International festival, Laureate’s Days Pleven, Katya Popova;
New Year’s music festival at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.
Mineral Springs for Health.
The abundant mineral water resources rank Bulgaria among the leading countries of the world in terms of balneology. The curative properties of mineral water have been known since ancient times. The millennia could not erase the traces of once flourishing spa towns built around mineral springs, of which we have the evidence of numerous archaeological remains from the Thracian, and especially from the Roman era. Examples are the ancient towns of Serdica (Sofia), Augusta (Hissar), Pautalia (Kiustendil) and many others.
There are a lot of reasons for this historical continuity of water cure in Bulgaria. Above all, the country has a great number of mineral springs with diverse physic-chemical composition (more than 800), grouped in some 250 mineral water sources according to the places of origin. Their mineral composition includes almost all ingredients that are present in mineral waters elsewhere. Their temperature also varies greatly (from cold to over 101 C).
Location adds to the advantage of Bulgarian mineral springs; usually they are to be found in ecologically pure resort areas, situated in beautiful natural surroundings, with mild climate. For spas, it is particularly important to have a synergy between the balneological and climatic factors. Prominent examples are the resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, in the Rhodopes, Rila and Pirin mountain ranges, along the Strouma River, and many more. Part of the balneo centers meet international standards.
Currently, Bulgaria is building new facilities, and is renovating existing ones, in order to ensure full-scale modern balneo therapy and prophylaxis. The spas employ highly qualified medical staff.
The ever-decreasing fresh water supply in the world, coupled with the deteriorating ecological conditions and possible pollution of open water basins, have led to growing interest in bottled “table” mineral waters. Bulgarian mineral waters are now in the position to compete with world-known bottled mineral waters.
During the recent years, Bulgarian mineral waters have been widely used in balneo-medical tourism (BMT), being an offshoot of health tourism.
It is well known that prophylaxis is conducted mainly with the use of natural factors. Therefore, balneo-medical tourism, as part of health tourism, will steadily move from medical treatment and rehabilitation to recreation and physical fitness. It will help eliminate the effects of modern lifestyle more fully and rapidly – the so-called “diseases of modern civilization”. This will involve searching for ways and forms of prophylaxis and treatment of these diseases. In this respect, balneo tourism is ideal. The stream of tourists choosing BMT will separate in four major groups:
1. Tourists seeking recreation and physical fitness;
2. Tourists participating in prophylaxis and rehab programs;
3. Tourists participating in medical treatment and rehab holidays;
4. Tourists – sportsmen visiting spas for training before or after sports competitions, as well as for staying in good physical shape.
Bulgaria is rich in mineral springs that vary greatly in physicochemical composition; the country has gathered considerable scientific and practical experience in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide range of diseases. There are great perspectives for the development of BMT, the bottling industry, manufacture of bioproducts etc
The game enterprise in Bulgaria is presented by 22,500 red deer, 4,900 fallow deer, 78,000 row deer, 2,100 chamois, 2,500 mouflons, over 37,500 boars, over 8,000 bears, 2,2000 capercallies, hares, partridges, pheasants.
One of the best red deer populations in the world is in Bulgaria. Among its trophies our country has 4 world records of red deer (including the present one with 273.60 CIC points) and of boars with 158.20 CIC points.
Most of the capital trophies evaluated at over 250 CIC points are Bulgarian.
The newly bred populations of red deer and mountains develop very well, too. Bulgaria ranks second in the world by quality of good trophies. International hunting tourism is a priority of the game and fish enterprise in Bulgaria since it provides good income for their development. It's make tourists become real admirers of the unique Bulgarian nature.
Over 2000-2500 foreign hunters a year go shooting in Bulgaria, a large part of them being traditional visitors in the country. The natural conditions, the strict observance of the Game Law and the Rules for its application, as well the science based game hunting in Bulgaria give hopes that the country will preserve its position of a leader in this field.
Having a game shooting license in Bulgaria provides a possibility of gaining trophies of brown bear, chamois, ibex and capercaillie. Their prices confirm to the international requirements and are reasonable for hunters who value high trophy collections and hunting tourism.
Hunting of wolves, jackals and foxes, pheasants, partidges, pigeons and will ducks is full of emotion. The specialised modern equipment of the forestry enterprise, consisting of over 110 huts and hunter's houses, provides more than 1100 beds and all necessary conditions.
Rafting, Canoeing Kayaking and White Water Rafting
The beauty of rafting is that no previous experience at all is required to experience this exhilarating outdoor sport. Local people are friendly and welcoming, and on camping trips in particular you have the chance for more interaction with the local way of life. The fresh outdoor air blowing in your face as you and your team guide your raft along the winding rivers of cool, raging water - Exhilarating!! Experience the thrill of rafting and the wonders of nature as you enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery on your trip.
The Struma, Arda and Ossam rivers are especially suitable for the enthusiast in springtime once the mountain snows higher up have melted, and the Stackevska river in the Vratza Mountains offers all the thrills and spills of wild water rafting. The quieter waters of the Danube are particularly suitable for canoeing and kayaking. The River Danube is excellent for canoeing and kayaking.
Bulgaria boosts a abundance of different types of fish, ideal for the freshwater to the deep sea fisherman
There is excellent trout fishing, along with pike, carp and bream, to name but a few in the mountain streams, and comfortable accommodation to be had with the local inhabitants.
Or out on the high seas with local fishermen.
Skiing & Mountains.
Pamporavet 6 million investment by EU
Bulgaria has three mountain ranges. The Stara Planina stretches across the middle of the country from the Yugoslav border in the west to the Black Sea coast in the east. The highest mountains are to be found in the Rhodopi Planina and Pirin Planina in southwest Bulgaria.
The Pamporovo ski resort is situated 1650 m above sea level, at the foot of peak SNEJANKA (1926 m), in the Rhodopes Mountain. It is located in a region for its unique folklore traditions with in 260 km of Sofia and 85 km of Bulgaria’s second-largest city, Plovdiv.
Pamporovo is the sunniest winter resort in Bulgaria there the winter is soft, but with a lot of snow, and the number of the sunny days during the season from December to May comes up to 120 days.
The resort is set in the south of the Rhodope Mountain where, according to the legend, Orpheus, the mythical singer, had lived. Pamporovo has international popularity. The average January temperature is about 3ÀC. The climate is exclusively healthy and it is no miracle that most of the centenarians in Bulgaria are found in this district.
Pamporovo is a ski-centre for all categories of skiers,it has excellent ski runs including even a racing ski run for giant slalom, as well as a first class built-up ski lift system. There is a ski-school of international category too, with more than 100 highly qualified instructors.
Pamporovo offers scores of scenic routes for seeing the Rhodopes Mountain on foot, as well as opportunities to visit some interesting tourist attractions.
Pamporovo, the pearl of Bulgarian mountain tourism, is the sunniest high mountain resort in Bulgaria. It is located in the heart of Rhodope Mountains, 260 kilometres away from Sofia, the distance to Plovdiv is 85 kilometers to the north and Smolyan is only 15 kilometres away. The resort enjoys more than 240 sunny days a year. Its climate is mild and the influence of the Mediterranean is perceptible. The average annual temperature here is 8.5°Ñ and its blanket of snow in winter is between 140 and 150 cm.
Snow stays between 150 and 200 days a year and makes Pamporovo into paradise for all ski and snowboard maniacs. They can enjoy 17.5 kilometers of Alpine ski runs with different degrees of difficulty, 34 ski runs for long distance skiing, equipped with 6 different seat chair lifts and 13 ski drags with a total capacity of 9,500 people per hour. The central part of the resort is 1,650 m above sea level and the nearest peak Snezhanka is 1,926 metres high.
Pamporovo has no avalanches and no sharp changes in the weather and this guarantees its guests safe and pleasant holidays. Pamporovo, as a part of the Rhodope Mountains is a unique place, famous for its negative air ionisation – something extremely beneficial to your health. Ski runs have different level of difficulties and going down them is an unforgettable experience for both beginners and adept skiers. Highly experienced ski instructors are at the disposal of all who would like to experience the thrills of skiing. If you cannot ski, don't worry! Pamporovo ski–schools are among the best in Europe. Full ski suits of the latest models produced by the best companies in the world are available at the ski and equipment hire centres.
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