Bulgaria highlights tour

BALCHIK

The picturesque resort sprawls scenically along hilly terraces descending from the Dobrogea plateau to the sea.

They named Balchik Ridge, in Antarctica, after this town.
There is a project to prepare the currently unused Balchik Airfield for low-cost airlines, especially from Russia.
Famous Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet wrote his well-known poem “Mavi Liman” (The Blue Port) in Balchik.

Balchik Palace

The official name of the palace situated 17 m above sea level was the Quiet Nest Palace.

They raised it between 1926-1937, during Romanian control of the region, for the needs of Queen Marie of Romania.
The large green area of the palace complex includes:
– residential villas,
– a smoking hall,
– a wine cellar,
– a power station,
– a monastery,
– a holy spring,
– a chapel and
– most notably a park that is today a state-run botanical garden.
A guided walking tour of the complex will take you to the most interesting buildings.
And it will show you the prettiest view to the sea and Queen Maria’s world.
Francis Ford Coppola spent 11 days at the Balchik palace shooting scenes of Youth Without Youth.

VARNA

Bulgaria’s third city and maritime capital, Varna is the most interesting and cosmopolitan town on the Black Sea coast.

It is a combination of port city, naval base and seaside resort, packed with history yet thoroughly modern.
In the center of the city with an enormous park and a lengthy beach to lounge on, you’ll find Bulgaria’s largest Roman baths complex.
As well as its finest archaeological museum and a lively cultural and restaurant scene.

Archaeological Museum

This vast museum is the best of its kind in Bulgaria.

Exhibits include 6000-year-old bangles, necklaces and earrings that some say are the oldest worked gold found in the world.
You’ll also find:
– Roman surgical implements,
– Hellenistic tombstones and
– touching oddments including a marble plaque listing in Greek, the city’s school graduates names for AD 221.
All exhibits have excellent explanatory texts in English.
There’s a large collection of icons on the second floor.

Roman Thermae

The well-preserved ruins of Varna's 2nd-century-AD Roman Thermae are the largest in Bulgaria and the fourth-largest of its kind in Europe.

Clamber around the various chambers of the bath complex and admire surviving pieces of the advanced floor- and water-heating systems.
Baths survived in their original form for only a century or two before the complex was abandoned.
It was too costly to maintain as the empire began to decline.

Primorski Park

Established in 1878, this large and attractive green space, overlooking the sea, stretches for about 8 km and being the largest of its kind in Europe.

It’s full of promenading families and old ladies knitting lace in summer, and there’s always something going on.
In addition to greenery and views, the park is home to the city’s aquarium, zoo park and planetarium.

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin

Golden onion domes top Varna's Cathedral (1886).

Note the murals (painted in 1950) and colourful stained-glass windows, though you’ll have to pay 5 lv if you want to take photos inside.

Natural History Museum

The museum presents the flora and fauna of the Black Sea region, divided into sections representing the area's geology, botany, vertebrates and invertebrates.

Kids will enjoy the collection of creepy crawlies, such as spiders and scorpions.
The museum is located in the northern part of Primorski Park, opposite the Palace of Culture and Sport.

National Naval Museum

National Naval Museum hosts several galleries of model ships and uniforms.

Anchors, artillery and helicopters rust quietly in the grounds at the back.
The revered warship Druzki, which torpedoed a Turkish cruiser during the First Balkan War in 1912, is embedded in concrete outside.

St. Michael the Archangel Church

St. Michael the Archangel Church founded in 1865 has historical significance, being the first place where religious services were given in Bulgarian.

The building also contained Varna’s first school.
The small badly lit church features some fine wooden icons.

 

Sveti Nikolai Church

Pretty Sveti Nikolai Church, right in the city centre, is worth a visit for its saintly murals.

It’s always busy and is a popular venue for weddings.

 

PLISKA

Maintained by Shumen Regional Museum of History, Pliska National Historical and Architectural Reserve is one of the country’s 100 most important tourist destinations.

Pliska was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, from 681-893.
Proto-Bulgarians chose this location because the valley surrounded by plateaus was a favorable place to pasture their herds.
Plus this was at the intersection of major thoroughfares.
Pliska’s first structures were made of wood.
First stone structure was the palace of Han Krum dating from the end of the 8th century and beginning of the 9th century.
In 811, Byzantine Emperor Nikifor razed the capital, Pliska imperial compound being rebuilt during the reign of Omurtag.

Bulgaria accepted Christianity in 864 under King Boris I.
Then Pliska’s pagan temples became Christian churches and they built new churches.
The most impressive of those was the Great Basilica, remains of which you can still see today.
In 889, King Boris established a monastery.
Its first prelate – king’s oldest son, Vladimir (Rasate) – attempted to re-introduce paganism, ending blinded and imprisoned in a dungeon.
In 893, when Simeon I assumed the throne moving the capital from Pliska to Preslav, Pliska lost its administrative and political importance becoming again an agricultural center.
In 1048-1049, a massive invasion particularly devastated the city.

Today visitors can still visit the protected site of Eastern Gate, once the main entrance to the castle.
About 1.5 km from the Gate is the Great Basilica.
Walk through Imperial Palace (Omurtag Palace) and visit the nearby so-called “Small Palace”.
Everywhere there are fragments of ornamental building blocks topped with cornices, along with baths aquaducts, and cisterns.
The museum located at the northeastern corner of the palace displays artifacts discovered in the region.

 

NESEBAR

Sunny Beach Nesebar Centre - Romania and Bulgaria private tourWith a treasure of attractions, Nessebar is a strong contender of historical sites, cultural attractions and a trekking destination.

Visit the ancient Church of the Holy Archangels Michael And Gabriel or St Stephen’s Church to spend some peaceful time.
Visit Art Gallery Jivotnoto to get drenched in the beauty of art.
Go trekking all your way to Cape Emine or buy gifts from J-Craft Jewellery Shop.
Enjoy some booze at the unusually designed Eco Bar or the Original Bulgarian Wine Shop.
Other must see attractions also include Church of the Holy Survivor, Church of Christ Pantocrator and Nesebar Archaeological Museum.

 

Church of Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel

A small medieval eastern orthodox church built in the late 13th century, the Church of Holy Archangels and Michael and Gabriel is the perfect way to witness Nesebar’s rich history.

Highlights include: signature red and white layered construction, medieval design, well-preserved paintings on the walls.
Take a walk inside the church to get close with the art, the history and the stories which all add an intrinsic charm to the place.

 

Eco Bar

A bar which looks like a cave from outside but opens into a beautiful bar that offers the perfect ambiance to unwind after a tough day of exploring the city.

Beautiful greenery, amazing menu, good drinks, great coffee, a waterfall and stalactites let you take a breath to take in the amazing sights that the city has to offer.
ECO bar is a must if you are looking for a ‘cave-man’ experience !

 

Nesebar Archaeological Museum

Get to know about the rich history of Nesebar - its civilizations, kingdoms, rulers and more by taking a stroll through Nesebar Archaeological Museum.

Displays translated into English make for a knowledgeable experience.
Highlights include: ancient pottery items, gold jewelry, virtual chariot ride.
The museum consists of artifacts from its Greek, Ottoman and Tharian civilizations.

 

St. Stephen’s Church

A medieval Orthodox church, turned into a museum is not uncommon in Nesebar.

But St. Stephen’s Church only adds to the city’s sea of historic churches.
They cannot precisely date back the church even though they say its oldest part was built in the 11th century !
Take a walk along yet another of Nesebar’s fantastic church ruins with signature basilica-like architecture and observe the wall paintings.
Highlights include: 258 mural paintings.
Paintings realized by 3 artists, over different centuries, depict more than 1,000 figures.

 

Church of Christ Pantocrator

A non-consecrated church, the Church of Christ Pantocrator is perhaps the most beautiful one in the city.

Built between the 13th and 14th century, the church gets its name from the Greek name for ‘God’.
Highlights include: beautiful Byzantine architecture, non consecrated technique of building by bricks called ‘Opus Mixtum’, art gallery accommodated within the church.
Yet another of the city’s historic chapters, the church is a must when in the city.

 

Art Gallery Ji’votnoto

If you are looking for a place to buy some unique jewelry or simple gifts for loved ones back home, then head to the Ji’votnoto Art Gallery.

Highlights include: unique jeweler designs including semi-precious stones, art items including paintings and showpieces.
If you are not into buying art pieces, this place is great for window shopping !

 

Original Bulgarian Wine Shop

A small shop well hidden in the streets of Old town Nesebar, the Original Bulgarian Wine Shop is a treat for wine lovers !

Take a walk inside to taste and buy some good and budget wine while you explore the old town.
You will be sure to walk out with a bottle or two.
Highlights include: Ice Wine and Merlot.

 

Church of St. John Aliturgetos

A church dedicated to St. John, the place is mostly ruins of the most iconic church in the city.

Built in the 14th century, do notice the church’s construction in layered, colored stones which give it its characteristic look.
The story of a man dying here followed by only limited services organized at the church, is not uncommon.
The earthquake of 1913 has left its mark on the building but not compromised on its appeal.
The place is a pleasure to walk around.

 

J-Craft Jewellery Shop

A small intimate shop flooded with silver jewelry is a rare sight in Nesebar and J-Craft Jewelry Shop is as unique as the city itself !

Stroll around the shop with amazing unique handmade jewelry that incorporate semiprecious stones like calcite, agates, turquoise to name a few !
A must if you love art, jewelry or simply want to buy a unique gift for loved ones back home !
If you are travelling on a tight budget, the place is still a perfect way to spend an hour or so admiring the designs.

 

PLOVDIV

Situated on Maritsa River, Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and one of the oldest towns in Europe.

Thracians, Romans, Goths, Slavs and Ottomans inhabited it, their traces turning the town into a museum.
The city was once the meeting point of 2 ancient transportation routes.
Meander back in time in the Old Town of Plovdiv.
The Ancient Plovdiv Architectural Reserve is of special interest.
Here they preserve brilliant examples of Bulgarian National Revival Period.
Ancient Roman theater is the most remarkable sight, being  accidentally ‘discovered’ in the early 1970s when a landslide exposed the site.
You can sit among the ruins of the ancient Roman Theater and feel the atmosphere of the extinct world.
This is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters on earth !

Built in the 2nd century BC during the reign of Trajanus, the theatre seats about 6,000 people and is now back in use.
From here, wander up to the site of the former hilltop fortress of Nebet Tepe, where you can enjoy excellent views of the city.
Head back down to visit the 15th-century Dzhumaya Mosque, still in use today.
Traditional craft workshops – Embark on an aimless wander through Plovdiv’s narrow alleyways to see traditional coppersmiths, farriers and potters at work, or browse through the myriads of antique shops lining the streets.
Later make sure you indulge in the local cuisine, famed for its grilled meats and vegetables on skewers.

 

SOFIA

Bulgaria's laid-back capital is a cosmopolitan city with wide tree-lined boulevards and pleasant parks.

The city claims to be Europe’s second oldest at 7,000 years, though it was only first mentioned by name in documents 2,700 years ago.
Sofia reflects remnants from various periods of occupation, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and even Soviet.
Alongside Communist-style architecture and beautiful Orthodox churches, construction works frequently uncover Roman remains.
So it is perfectly normal to walk past Roman brickwork that has been incorporated into a pedestrian underpass.

Uncover Sofia’s sites and history and learn about its imperial occupations from ancient Greeks and Romans to modern era’s Soviets.
Compare age-old places of worship in Sofia.
The most important religious buildings are: the Mosque, Synagogue, St. Joseph Catholic church, and Orthodox churches of St. Nedelya, St. Petka, St. Sophia.

Visit also St. George Rotunda, one of the oldest fully preserved churches in Europe dating from 4th century AD.
And step inside the Crypt of gold-domed St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral with the best icons collection in Bulgaria.
Admire the former Royal Palace (Vrana Park), National Theatre, Mineral Baths (Regional History Museum of Sofia), Parliament (National Assembly of Republic of Bulgaria), the statue of Tsar Liberator, and Sofia University.
Get to know the city with a stroll to the city gardens or try your first delicious banitsa pastry.
Browse around the cured meats and cheese of Central Market Hall (Tsentralni Hali).
You might want to sate your cultural curiosity at National History Museum.
Discover artifacts from many empires of old that have occupied the city at National Archaeological Museum.
Or get cultural at National Art Gallery.

 

Romania & Bulgaria private car tour

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Happy tours !

Warm regards,
Kryss

 

 

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