Bulgaria is known for its beautiful beaches by the Black Sea, ancient historic ruins, and intricate religious landmarks, as well as stunning nature spots including Vitosha Mountain and Rila Lakes.
Bulgaria is one of the Balkan countries sitting in South-East Europe. It’s surrounded by five other nations, one of which is Romania to the North. This is where the Danube River runs. Bulgaria is also situated on the Black Sea, where several cities on the coast have created luxury beach resorts.
What Is Bulgaria Known For?
Bulgaria is famous for its location on the Black Sea, where beaches like Sunny Beach and Nessebar are found. On the other hand, other natural landmarks like Vitosha Mountain are ideal for skiing during the cold months. Furthermore, Bulgaria is known for being home to the oldest city in Europe – Plovdiv!
History, Culture, And Traditions Bulgaria Is Famous For
Alliance With Soviet Union
The most significant historical event that Bulgaria is famous for is its alliance with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During the Cold War, the country was considered a satellite state of the union.
The USSR was a country in Eurasia founded in 1922. It was made up of 15 powerful republics divided into three groups: Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian. Bulgaria was sometimes referred to as the 16th state due to its close relationship with the USSR.
Fundamentally, the goal was to create a communist nation that could industrialize and protect itself. However, the fall of the USSR was anticipated by many. Countries began to leave, and the party was forced to terminate after a political crisis. This led to the independence of Bulgaria.
Thracian Fire Dancing
Fire dancing is an ancient tradition discovered by Thracians. These were a group of people inhabiting South East Europe until the 1st century AD.
To this day, folk dance is a huge part of Bulgarian culture. It consists of barefoot members dancing on lit coals, said to be reborn. Furthermore, the pagans believed it would make them stronger.
Traditionally, this dance is taught strictly by grandparents to their grandchildren.
Easter Egg Painting
Easter is celebrated according to the Orthodox calendar. As Bulgaria is known for being a predominantly Christian country, the holiday is widely celebrated. This is when the resurrection of Jesus occurred, hence it is a joyous day.
Eggs are painted bright colors and decorated with foil or stickers. Subsequently, on Easter Sunday, there is an ‘egg battle’. This is when family members have an egg battle clashing their eggs against each other in an attempt to crack the opponent’s. The competition keeps going until every egg is gone, and the strongest remains uncracked.
Kukeri Festival – Surva, Pernik
The Kukeri Festival has been around since the Thracian Era. Originally, it commemorated Dionysus, the Thracian god of joy. This is how town members believed their land would be protected from evil spirits. Additionally, it also serves as a prayer for a successful harvest.
Kukeri masks are made of fur and animal skin, said to denote a monster. For this reason, the dancing chases bad omens away.
Essential rose oil is the leading product manufactured in Bulgaria. The Rose Valley close to the mountains is most abundant in roses, and thus where a big portion of the rose oils are extracted.
So, what is Bulgaria famous for producing with rose oil? Many face creams include this essential oil because it’s anti-inflammatory and ideal for eczema. Rose water also minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and is an ingredient in several cosmetics.
Cities And Travel Destinations Bulgaria Is Known For
Sofia – Vitosha Etc
Sofia is the well-known capital city of Bulgaria. It has many historical landmarks, especially as it was built over Roman ruins.
As a result, you can find parts of old ruins in various locations such as the Serdica Archeological Complex. There is even a maze of ancient ruins which demonstrates how capable civilization was!
In addition, Sofia is home to the Vitosha Mountains. During the months of November through April, you can visit the resort where there is skiing and snowboarding. There are also many traditional restaurants where you can sample the local Bulgarian food.
These are just some of the many top things to do in Sofia. The capital city has a good blend of history, nature, and modern nightlife.
Bulgaria is famous for Plovdiv, the oldest city in Europe. Because of this, wandering past the captivating ancient sites and charming cobblestone Old Town evokes mystic feelings of nostalgia.
The most impressive attraction in Plovdiv is the Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis. If you’re lucky enough, there may even be a performance during the day, since it’s a relatively well-preserved ruin.
In contrast, Stefan Stambolov Square is a reminder of how developed Plovdiv can also be. Here you can find luxury boutiques, walk to Tsar Simeon Park, or visit the Singing Fountains.
Sitting right next to the Black Sea, Burgas is where you will find the widest array of beach resorts in Bulgaria.
For the younger generation, Sunny Beach is a perfect choice. It’s affordable and is often considered to have the liveliest nightlife in all of Bulgaria. In the town center, you will find popular activities such as bungee jumping, hair braiding, and temporary tattoos.
If you’re looking for a quieter, more peaceful vacation, Nessebar is preferable. The smaller historic Old Town attracts families and folks who are more into history and culture. You will find some of the best beaches in Bulgaria around this region.
Varna is another coastal town that has the famous Golden Sands resorts. There are almost 30 relaxing hot springs locations where geothermal activity creates naturally hot water.
A fun fact about Bulgaria is that the oldest gold in the world is found in the Varna Necropolis, dating from 4,600 BC. The burial sites contained jewelry, pottery, and blades.
Other exciting historical landmarks in the area include the Aladzha Monastery, which is a series of Medieval caves found on an astounding cliff.
Landmarks And Architecture Bulgaria Is Famous For
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is widely regarded as one of the best landmarks in Bulgaria. It is an Eastern Orthodox Church built in 1912, which is amongst some of the largest of its caliber in the world.
It’s named after Saint Alexander Nevsky of Russia, and there is a cathedral with the same name in Moscow. The church commemorates those who died during the Russo-Turkish War, which is when Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral consists of several turquoise and yellow-topped domes, typical of its Neo-Byzantine style. The central dome is gold-plated and stands 45 meters tall.
The Monastery Of Saint John Of Rila
The Monastery of Saint John of Rila, termed the Rila Monastery, is the biggest in Bulgaria.
The complex was established in the 10th century by a Bulgarian Saint named John of Rila. He is widely known for being the first ‘hermit’ in the country. This means that he secluded himself to live a life of prayer and devotion to God, living alone in a cave.
The Rila Monastery is made up of a main Church and a Museum holding Rafail’s Cross, an important wooden crucifix. Here, you can find souvenir shops selling colorful beaded bracelets with a silver cross in the middle, that many Bulgarians wear for protection.
Old City Of Nessebar
Bulgaria is known for its rich history and one of the places to explore that deep past is Nessebar. The Old City of Nessebar is a rustic settlement built in the 6th century BC by the Thracians. Mesambria Square, in the center of it all, is filled with local shops and boutiques.
Since this city is on the west coast of the Black Sea, it’s worth visiting the restaurants for fresh seafood dishes and a refreshing drink near the beach!
Ancient Theatre Of Philippopolis
The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis is a Roman Theatre in the city of Plovdiv. It’s a huge structure with 28 concentric rows that can hold over 3,500 onlookers.
As we mentioned, Plovdiv is the oldest city in Europe. The theater was constructed in the 1st century AD. Despite this, it remains in great condition and is remarkably preserved. So much so that it’s still in use and often holds year-round performances such as opera and dance.
If you’re planning a trip, consider visiting during December time. While it is cold, this is also when the best performances are held, illuminated by the Christmas Market lights.
Food Bulgaria Is Known For
One of the most common foods in Bulgaria is undoubtedly the Shopska Salad, this refreshing dish is present at almost every event and is a regular side for meals in all households.
This is because the Shopska salad is incredibly simple to make. It always consists of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. A generous serving of vinegar is also added, giving the salad its sharp taste.
Lastly, it’s topped with crumbled feta cheese and parsley. Traditionally, one whole olive is placed on the top of the salad.
Banitsa is an age-old dish in the country; the name means to wrinkle or fold. Typically, it’s made fresh for breakfast and you will find hungry locals queueing at the bakery in the morning to grab one before heading to work. It is also a common street food in Bulgaria.
Simply speaking, these are crispy puff pastries with delicious stuffings. You will find different variations with meat, cheese, and spinach being the most common ones. The pastry is baked, and ready to enjoy straight out of the oven with yogurt
Stuffed peppers are a staple dinner for all households. They are a hearty dish, as is common with most Bulgarian food.
The recipe for stuffed peppers is just as its name suggests. The top of a bell pepper is removed and a mix of mincemeat and rice is added. This is then baked and eaten for dinner. Bulgaria is famous for being the homeland of yogurt, which is why it’s a side for so many meals such as stuffed peppers.
Various bell peppers from red and green to yellow are often used to make the meal even more visually interesting.
Although moussaka originates from Greece, Bulgaria is known for adapting Greek dishes and making them their own. For example, instead of using eggplant, Bulgaria replaces it with potato. As a result, the dish is more substantial.
Moussaka is a casserole-like, layered dish. Firstly, mincemeat is browned in a tomato sauce and layered in the dish. Subsequently, it’s coated with sliced potato. This is done however many times preferable and lastly topped with mashed potato.
Famous People From Bulgaria
One of the most famous Bulgarian people is Nina Dobrev. Dobrev was born in Sofia until she moved to Canada to pursue her acting career at the age of 10. However, Dobrev has moved back to her childhood home many times, especially due to family ties.
Dobrev is regularly recognized for her reoccurring role as Elena Gilbert in ‘The Vampire Diaries’ when she rose to fame. More recently, she starred in the American rom-com ‘Love Hard’.
Furthermore, she is known to be an activist and is involved with the Elton John AIDS Foundation as well as WE Movement.
Grigor Dimitrov is one of the top professional tennis players in Bulgaria. At one point, he ranked as high as No. 3 in the ATP professional tennis circuit. Dimitrov, born in Haskovo, is a talented player known for his powerful backhand. He was nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’ during his junior career, because of his similar style to the tennis legend, Roger Federer.
Some of the titles Dimitrov has been awarded include Balkan Athlete Of The Year and Bulgarian Sportsperson Of The Year.
Dimitar Berbatov was a professional football player and one of the most famous Bulgarian people in the athletic world. He’s the country’s top goal scorer, racking up 38 for the national team. This is one more than Hristo Stoichkov, who was regarded as the best Bulgarian footballer during his time.
Berbatov played for CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria but what really rose him to fame was his time with top English Premier League teams – Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Discovering More Things Bulgaria Is Known For
From interesting culture and traditions to wonderful cities and destinations and even delectable food to boot, Bulgaria is just a great experience waiting to be discovered! These are merely introductions and some of the things Bulgaria is famous for.
The real treat is when you visit the country yourself! Cities such as Plovdiv and Varna have many interesting historical landmarks and museums. The beauty of this is the towns may look old, but modern buildings also exist to create the perfect balance.
Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe, established in 681 AD, and there is a reason it attracts people from all over the world. So be sure to make time to explore this incredible Balkan country!