The ancient fortress is a symbolic landmark of Bulgaria and a unique place for exploring the history of the country. The fortress was built in Veliko Tarnovo on the basis of natural fortification during the existence of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. In those years, the city was the center of the country's political life, where the most important decisions were made that influenced the course of the history of Bulgaria. In 1393, the entire city was captured by the Ottoman Empire, during the course of hostilities the fortress was severely damaged, and now there are not many surviving buildings: a temple, towers and gates. After liberation from Turkish slavery, it was here that the first Bulgarian constitution was adopted, and the revival of the country began.
2. Rila Monastery
Majestic, hiding in the mountains, with its unusual architecture, wall murals and a long history, the country's largest monastery is the main pilgrimage site in the Balkans. This spiritual center of the Orthodox Church was founded in the 10th century by the hermit Ivan Rilsky, the most revered Bulgarian saint. It is known that the saint lived in a cave of the mountain Rila. Now his relics are in the main church of the complex. Over its long history, this place has been repeatedly destroyed and restored. You should definitely visit the museum of the Rila Monastery, which contains unique collections of gold and silver utensils, works of art, ancient coins, jewelry.
3. Temple of Alexander Nevsky in Sofia
The Patriarchal Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky is one of the most famous architectural attractions in Bulgaria. It amazes the imagination with its majestic architecture and unique appearance. The cross-domed church was erected at the beginning of the 20th century in honor of Alexander II, whose army liberated Bulgaria from the continued domination of the Ottoman Empire. The temple occupies the central part of the eponymous square and accommodates five thousand people. In the design of the temple, Bulgaria asked for help from Russia, so Russian artists took part in the construction, and the architect of the project was the St. Petersburg architect Pomerantsev. The interior impresses with its monumentality: the facade of the building is faced with granite and white stone, the domes are gilded, and marble and onyx are used as decoration.
4. National History Museum of Bulgaria
The National History Museum of Bulgaria is rightfully considered the largest and most significant on the entire Balkan Peninsula. The collection has over 650 thousand exhibits, including a large number of archaeological finds of the Stone Age, the Greek period and the Middle Ages. The entire exposition as a whole is divided into three main sections: archaeological, historical and ethnographic. Among the most unique valuable objects that are in the ownership of the museum: weapons, jewelry, art objects, ancient cards and coins, ancient vessels and clay idols, religious and ritual things. For lovers of literature, collections of rare books are presented here, as well as archival materials, photographs, documents telling about the past of the country. This is one of the most interesting tourist places in Bulgaria.
5. Asenova fortress
Asenova Fortress, proudly towering on a lonely rock, today is one of the most visited medieval attractions in Bulgaria. As archaeological excavations showed, the fortress existed during the time of Thrace, and the first fortifications appeared here in the 11th century. In the past, the fortress played a crucial strategic role in defending the country from invaders: the favorable location and natural defense of the steep mountains descending to the sea made it almost impregnable. Now Asenova Fortress is included in the list of cultural monuments of national importance and after restoration work has been carried out since 1991, it is open for visitors.
6. National Art Gallery of Bulgaria
The National Art Gallery of Bulgaria is the largest and most respected gallery in the country, where all lovers of culture and art should definitely visit. The museum is located in the former royal palace. The gallery collection contains an extensive collection of works of art, numbering more than fifty thousand works. The paintings occupy the entire second floor: more than 150 canvases of talented Western European and Bulgarian artists are presented here, the earliest works belong to an outstanding collection of medieval paintings. On the third floor are marble, bronze, ceramic sculptures. Now the gallery has only ten exhibition halls, which regularly host temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as seminars and master classes.
The modest palace, which used to be a royal summer residence, is framed by the greenery of the adjacent park. Today Evksinograd is the seat of the government, but in the days free from meetings it turns into a popular tourist destination. Any visitor can briefly feel like a real royal person and touch the history of Bulgaria. Of particular interest to tourists are the greenhouse, the stables and the Evksinograd park. The landscape park is a combination of two styles: English and French. Another unique object of this place is the wine hut, where excellent wine has been created and stored for hundreds of years. A small tasting of locally produced wines is held for visitors.
8. Church of St. John the Baptist (Nessebar)
The Church of St. John the Baptist is an unusual temple of the 10th century, erected in the heart of the old quarters of the ancient city of Nessebar. The church is well preserved and is a curious example of religious medieval architecture of the Slavic-Greek style, while features that will later become a national sign are clearly visible. Despite its compact size, the church gives the impression of being majestic and impressive. The interior of the temple looks quite modest and simple, with the exception of the magnificent frescoes of the 14th and 17th centuries. Over its long history, the Church of St. John the Baptist has gone through many reconstructions and repairs and is now not used for services, functioning as an art gallery. Most tourists will be interested in visiting this attraction in Bulgaria.
9. Bachkovo Monastery
Few Bulgarian sights can boast of such splendor and grandeur as the Bachkovo Monastery, founded a thousand years ago by the Byzantine military commanders - the Bakuriani brothers. It is located in a magnificent area on the left bank of the Chepelarsk River and is an amazing place for spiritual relaxation: every day thousands of visitors gather here, both local residents and tourists. In the past, the monastery was a significant center of educational and literary activity. The church holds the miraculous icon of the Virgin, which cures of all diseases. The monastery’s museum houses a rich collection of books, and all evidence of healing is preserved. In the center of the monastery courtyard stands a tree, which, according to legend, is a descendant of a tree of paradise.
10. Valley of the Roses
The Valley of Roses can be safely attributed to the most beautiful sights of Bulgaria. Such a fantastic name was given to this place by vast fields planted with the famous damask rose, grown here for more than three centuries. The local climate is extremely favorable for the cultivation of these flowers, which allows you to extend the flowering time and get more essential oils. Bushes dotted with flowers of red, pink and raspberry shades extend to the horizon and spread aromas to the immediate surroundings. The Valley of Roses attracts thousands of tourists and photographers, while the collection of plants is strictly prohibited. The Rose Festival is an important and colorful event when an ancient ceremony of collecting flowers takes place. Locals at this time dress up in national costumes and walk around the city with songs and dances until midnight.
11. Aladzha Monastery
Aladzha Rock Monastery, where hermits have lived since the 4th century, is a truly mysterious and mysterious place with its thousand-year history, traditions and mythological symbols of tourism. The calm and silence of this place attracts people who seek solitude and enlightenment. The ancient monastery of Christians is perfectly preserved to this day and is open to all comers. This interesting architectural structure consists of two tiers. The first housed a temple, cells and the refectory, while the second tier was occupied by a chapel, which could be reached by a wooden staircase. Near the monastery there are catacombs, in which, according to legend, the monks hid from the Turkish conquerors. At the entrance to the monastery is a museum dedicated to the history of the monastery, regularly hosts interesting exhibitions. Aladzha Monastery is a must-see place in Bulgaria!
12. The island of St. Anastasia
The island of St. Anastasia is the only island in the country on which the Orthodox monastery is located. The earliest written records of the existence of the monastery are found in letters of the 16th century. An interesting architectural feature of the building is the absence of high walls, since the island has steep coasts that create natural protection. The picturesque and slightly frightening island of St. Anastasia is surrounded by many secrets and legends. According to one of them, after the prayers of the monks in getting rid of pirate raids, a terrible storm arose that destroyed the pirate ship, while others claim that there are hidden dungeons on the island. Today the island has changed a lot: a hotel, a restaurant, a pier and a picturesque lighthouse have appeared here, which makes it an attractive tourist attraction in Bulgaria.
Sights of Bulgaria
The section contains popular sights of Bulgaria with photos and descriptions: monasteries, churches, museums, national parks and reserves, beaches, hot springs, ski resorts and water parks. An article and a catalog will help you choose what to see in Bulgaria during your vacation and where to relax with children.
Now Bulgaria is going not only to sunbathe on beautiful beaches and to get healthier at balneological resorts, but also for excursions that allow you to see natural and historical monuments, which in fact are very many in the country: both in coastal cities and in mountainous regions.
So, a vacation at the famous Golden Sands beach resort can be combined with a visit to the adjacent natural park of the same name, as well as nearby caves and the rock monastery Alanja.
The Central Balkans National Park, where the highest waterfall in the country is located, Praskalo, is accessible not only for backpackers: you can explore natural attractions during horseback riding, there are cycling routes in the park.
Mountain landscapes, pristine lakes, fabulous panoramas and edelweiss are the sights of the Pirin National Park, which, like the Srebarna Nature Reserve, is under the protection of UNESCO. You can get to it from the city of Bansko.
An equally attractive place for connoisseurs of beauty is the Valley of Roses at the foot of the Stara Planina Mountains. The best time to visit is from May to June, when the famous Rose Festival takes place here.
Large ski resorts in Bulgaria are not inferior in popularity to nature parks and beaches. Thousands of skiers and snowboarders from different countries come to Borovets, Pamporovo, Vitosha, Bansko every winter.
Active winter vacations with all kinds of entertainment are available for children, and in summer the best attractions can be found in one of the water parks in the resort area of the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria.
What to see in Bulgaria
The main cultural attractions of Bulgaria
The most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria are the Rila Monastery and the Boyana Church.
Founded in the X century, the Rila Monastery remains one of the main spiritual centers of the country. It is located in the Rila mountain range, about 120 km from Sofia. The monastery complex includes the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Tower of Hrelio, a library and other premises. Most facilities are open to visitors all year round.
The medieval Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia is modest in size, but very interesting in terms of architecture, it consists of buildings from different eras: a one-domed church of the 11th century, a two-story building with a chapel and a boyar crypt of the 13th century, a porch of the 19th century. In the interior, frescoes are excellently preserved.
In the Balkan Mountains is the Shipka Memorial Park Museum, created in memory of the soldiers who died in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. On the territory there are monuments, the Freedom Monument, a bronze lion - a symbol of the Bulgarian state, there is a memorial museum and an observation deck.
One of the largest and most famous architectural and museum complexes is the Tsarevets fortress, located in the ancient capital of Bulgaria - the city of Veliko Tarnovo, on top of the Tsarevets natural hill. The fortress wall, towers and other buildings were created here in the XII century. You can see the historical monument and the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs located at its foot on your own or as part of excursions.
Not far from the resort area of Pomorie is the reserve "Old Pomorie houses" - a real open-air history museum. You can not only enjoy the beauties of stone-wooden houses of the fishing quarter, but also appreciate their interior decoration.
Driving through the small town of Ardino, you should turn onto a dirt road to see the medieval Devil's Bridge, with which many legends are associated.
Sights of the cities of Bulgaria
The sights of Bulgaria are heterogeneous in chronology of origin and location, while in every major ancient city there are architectural and important historical monuments.
So, in the capital of the country, the city of Sofia, it is worth highlighting the majestic cathedrals and churches: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Church of St. Sophia, Church of St. George. In nature, one of the most beautiful Bulgarian monasteries is located - the Dragalevsky monastery. Interesting expositions are presented at the Archaeological Museum and the National History Museum.
Nessebar, located on the Black Sea coast, is a landmark city. The whole area of the old city is listed by UNESCO, as it is a collection of architectural values of the Middle Ages and more ancient periods. The archaeological museum “Old Nessebar” works here, the fortress walls, Byzantine baths, the Church of St. Sophia, the Church of St. John the Baptist and other attractions are preserved.
Many interesting museums and churches can be seen in the city of Varna, where the Nikolai Copernicus Observatory and Planetarium operate.
A busy walking route can be made by planning a vacation in Burgas. It is worth taking a walk around the Seaside Park, seeing the Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the exposition of the Ethnographic Museum. In the summer, the Sand Sculpture Festival takes place here. Another reason to visit Burgas is the natural parks and reserves located in its vicinity, the healing mud of Lake Mandrena.
Seven Rila Lakes
The most visited attraction of Bulgaria are the seven Rila Lakes. Each of them is unique, has its own name in accordance with the character: Tear, Eye, Kidney, Shamrock, Gemini, Lower and Fish.
They are far from sea resorts, travel time is about 6 hours, from Sofia to their destination about 80 km. But a panoramic view of a network of glacial lakes with crystal water on a background of mountain massifs is worth the distance covered.
The best option is to go by rented car or by public transport. You will have to leave early in the morning, stop for lunch in Plovdiv for lunch. From the foot of the mountain, where there is free parking, a cable car will bring you upstairs with incredible landscapes.
The lift works until 18.00. Time must be calculated and controlled so that you do not have to make the return trip on foot in the gathering twilight. Upstairs, as a rule, a few degrees colder than at the foot, the wind blows. Warm clothes can come in handy, as well as sunscreen. At an altitude of 2500 meters, the sun burns, but does not heat.
Lovers choose a hike, swim in the mountain lakes. Water is as clear as cold - +12 C. More information about Rila Lakes - >>>
Fortress and rocks of Belogradchik
Sights of the Republic of Bulgaria surprise with its versatility. So an ancient fortress on the slope of the Balkan Mountains is both a museum of history and a unique natural phenomenon: rocks of an unusual shape.
The first fortification arose near the modern city of Belogradchik back in the days of the Roman Empire. An important stronghold of Bulgaria was repeatedly rebuilt, to which the Romans, Turks, and Bulgarians had a hand. In the form in which it came to us, these are several separately taken structures located on an area of 10,210 m2.
The thickness of the fortress walls is 2 meters at the base, and the height is up to 12 meters.
The mountains surrounding the fortress serve simultaneously as its wall and defense. Rocks have acquired a bizarre shape over several hundred million years under the influence of many natural factors. Now most of them bear their own names, surrounded by legends and secrets.
The wonders of nature are openly shown to tourists by Adam and Eve, Madonna, Monks, Horseman, Leo, Camel, Bear, Shepherdess, Disciple, Mushrooms and others.
Fortress Baba Vida
The medieval fortress of Baba Vida was the main defensive of Bulgaria. An outstanding structure on the banks of the Danube, together with a defense moat, covers an area of more than 9 hectares.
The fortress, namely the territory, two towers, the central square, the prison building is open for tourists, there is a summer theater with 350 seats.
The monument of history and architecture is open from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (April-September), from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (October-May), at the weekend for visiting it is a little shorter. A ticket for adults costs 4 leva, for pensioners and students - 2 leva.
Among the attractions of Bulgaria, marked on the map and known from the photo, having the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there is a church in the village of Boyany.
Located near Sofia, famous for its ancient frescoes that adorn the interior walls of the temple. Images created in the 13th century were preserved in their original form, did not lose bright colors, and most importantly - spirituality and realism
The architecture of the temple adjacent to the slope of Vitosha Mountain is also original. Three buildings of different centuries - 11, 13, and 19 - make up three chapels of the church. The Lord saved his abode, it has survived to our days without destruction.
In order to protect the unique heritage of the country - the oldest frescoes, visitors are allowed here in small groups only for a short time. Photo and video inside is prohibited.
The monument is open daily in the holiday season from 9.30 to 17.30, in winter from 9.00 to 17.00. Entrance costs 10 leva, for students and schoolchildren - 2 leva.
Monument to Alyosha
The more modern sights erected in the 20th century include a monument to the Soviet soldier in Plovdiv. On the Hill of the Liberators stands a sculptural figure of a soldier with a machine gun aimed at the ground, assembled from metal and concrete, measuring 11.5 meters.
The prototype of the sculpture was a real person, an ordinary soldier who went through the Great Patriotic War, Alexei Ivanovich Skurlatov. The initiative to perpetuate the memory of the feat of a Russian soldier came from ordinary people. Subsequently, the monument with love everyone began to call Alyosha. A song is composed about Alyosha, poems are written.
At the turn of the century, several attempts were made to demolish the monument. Now, civilians of Plovdiv and the whole country have come to his defense.
Palace of queen mary
A short period of time the territory of the resort town of Balchik, which is not far from Varna, belonged to Romania. This episode, insignificant by the standards of world history, is forever inscribed in gold letters in the annals of Bulgaria.
All thanks to the Palace of the Romanian Queen Mary. He is deprived of pomp and rather resembles a quiet cozy nest. The queen's summer residence, which is a descendant of the Romanov dynasty, looks exactly like a cozy nest. She had a kinship with Queen Victoria of England, who was her grandmother.
The complex of the summer residence includes several villas, a monastery, a botanical garden, a wine cellar. Differences in heights are successfully beaten with great taste by professional landscape designers.
The territory is a successful union of European and Eastern architectural and park styles.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The symbol of Orthodoxy in Bulgaria, its brand attraction, whose photos and names can be found most often in descriptions and presentations of the country from the level of international events to school essays, is the cathedral in honor of St. Alexander Nevsky.
The temple was erected as a monument in honor of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke by Russian allies. So in Bulgaria there was a temple in honor of the Russian saint.
It stands on the eponymous square in Sofia, built by the project of Russian architect Alexander Pomerantsev. The area of the cathedral is more than 3000 square meters. meters can accommodate up to 5000 people at a time.
The height of the main dome is 45 m. There are 12 bells on the bell tower 53 m high.
Roman amphitheater in Plovdiv
In the old part of Plovdiv there is an ancient theater. It was discovered during archaeological excavations of 70-80 years of the last century. It can accommodate up to 7000 people and continues to be used today.
It hosts the Opera Festival, ballet and theater performances.
Strandja Nature Reserve
The largest reserve, an exotic attraction of Bulgaria, not only by photos and descriptions, but due to the huge number of unique specimens of fauna and flora.
It is inhabited by 66 species of mammals, 269 species of birds, 41 species of freshwater and 70 species of marine fish.
The park, located in the province of Burgas, is 50 km long and 25 km wide. The reserve is a great place for hiking.
The blessed nature combines the energy of the mountains, the sea and the sun, provides all guests with the opportunity to get an unforgettable experience.
Well-trained local guides work in the park, who can be contacted on the Strandja official website.
Visitors are asked not to harm nature, not to leave traces of their stay, not to deviate from the paved paths and to enjoy the surrounding beauty and harmony.
Stone Forest or Lost stones - rock formations, an amazing natural phenomenon in stone. On a small stretch of road 18 km from Varna towards Sofia, for several kilometers close to the highway, “approach” from two sides in groups and one by one stone columns from 5 to 10 meters high, from 30 cm to 3 meters thick.
There are about 300 such columns on the site. With their base, they go deep into the ground, which is why they are called “driven in”, inside the stone pillars are hollow.
There are several versions of the origin of these columns. All of them agree that earlier this territory was a seabed, and pillars, trunks or columns were formed under the influence of atmospheric phenomena, water and air.
Many stones resemble concrete figures and bear the corresponding names: Monk, Soldier, Devil, Throne, Family and others.
Shipka is a mountain pass through the Balkans. He gained fame after defensive actions for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russian-Turkish war (1877-1878).
In 1934, on the initiative and donations of ordinary residents, a monument was erected. It is a truncated stone tower of a pyramidal shape with a height of 31.5 meters.
The entrance inside is guarded by a gigantic stone lion (4 m high and 8 m long). Inside is a museum exposition and memorial burial of several victims of the Shipka defense.
There is an observation deck at the top of the tower. Every year in August, in memory of the heroic past, a historical reconstruction of the events of 1877 is held here.
Sightseeing tours in Bulgaria
The most interesting excursions to the sights of Bulgaria in our selection.
The main attractions of Bulgaria allow you to combine a pleasant stay with a useful one. When planning your next trip, look at the map of Europe, look through photos, read reviews and descriptions.
All the paths will lead you to Bulgaria, the country you just met.
Perhaps someone has already started packing up his suitcase to get to know it better ...
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