12 places in Bulgaria you never thought to visit (but really should)
Bulgaria is on the list of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Europe. The data used for the European Travel Commission’s 2017 Travel and Trends Report cover the first four months of 2017. Our experts tell you all you need to know here for 12 amzing place in Bulgaria.
1.The Roman Villa Armira
If you love exploring historical sights, the Roman Villa Armira close to the city of Ivaylovgrad should definitely land in your Bulgaria sightseeing list. Located in the midst of the beauty of Eastern Rhodopi mountain, the villa is one of the hidden jewels of Southern Bulgaria! And one that definitely everyone should see.
It’s the richest private palace from Roman times found on the territory of Bulgaria. Built in the 2nd half of the 1st century AD, the palace is considered to have first belonged to a rich person with Thracian origin. Latest excavations, unveiling nearby buildings for cattle and storing goods, show that it was not only a residence of the affluent aristocrat but also a place from where he managed his properties.The villa features amazing floor mosaics and marble decorations on its walls. Mosaics cover a surface of more than 400 m2 and features mythological scenes as well as moments from the life of its owners. For example, judging by the portraits in one of the mosaic floors, it’s considered that the wife of the first owner of the villa – the one with the Thracian origins – had died and it is exactly the owner’s wife whose tomb was uncovered about 1 km from the villa, buried along with a Thracian chariot (the chariot can be seen in Ivaylovgrad Museum of History).
The Deaf Stones rock sanctuary shrine is one of the largest Thracian cult monuments. It includes several large rock blocks with deep gorges cut in. At the foot of one of the blocks a rock tomb chamber is carved. A bed and a small niche are cut in the eastern part of the rock chamber. There are traces of a second unfinished tomb to the side. In the rock block to the east a staircase is carved which leads to the summit with a well-shaped pool. The remaining three rocky peaks are dotted with more than 200 religious cult rock niches.
The location of the sanctuary seems to have been selected very carefully – the nature around is extremely beautiful and awesome, and the site offers excellent views to all directions of the world. The ancient inhabitants of the Rhodopes perceived the looming up above the surrounding terrain, the rock formations as were sacred. For the Thracians the height of the rock symbolized the ritual act of the transition from the everyday life to the scared. The one who rises by climbing up the stairs of the sanctuary leading to heaven ceased to be a man – reaching the top of the peak and touched by the first rays of the sun, the priest – clergyman transpired and dispersed into another, new and clean space…
Asen’s Fortress is the most interesting and most often visited tourist attraction in the Asenovgrad region. It is located three kilometers from the city on the top of a cliff, on the left bank of the Asenitsa River. There is a scenic route to the fortress branching off the road just south of Asenovgrad heading toward Smolyan.
The natural cliff massif where the fortress is situated comprises an area of 12 hectares. With drops that are almost vertical and at times even overhanging above the river below, it is impregnable on three sides. Its strategic location and natural defenses explain why it has been used since the days of the Thracians, who fortified it in the 5th century BCE. The fortress was rebuilt during the time of the Roman Emperor Justinian as one of some 300 fortresses erected to defend the Empire against invasions by Slavic tribes.
The Dyavolski Most (Devil’s Bridge), (also known as Sheytan Kyupriya) is a medieval bridge over the Arda river. It is situated in a picturesque valley about 10 kilometers northwest of the town of Ardino and 4 kilometers east of the village of Galabovo (municipality of Banite).
The bridge was built in 1515 – 1518 by the builder Dimitar from the village of Nedelino (which is a town nowadays) upon the remains of an ancient Roman bridge on the road, linking the Aegean region with Northern Thracian valley (Gornotrakiyski Nizina) through the Makaza pass
Orlovo Oko (Eagle’s Eye) is a sightseeing platform built at 1563 m above the sea level, next to the St Ilia peak in the Rhodope mountains and close to the village of Yagodina and the famous Yagodinska cave.
This is a steel construction that raises 670 m above the picturesque Buynovsko gorge with its winding river and a road that runs along it. It can be reached on foot, by jeeps or by mountain bikes, the trail begins at the exit of the village of Yagodina in the direction of Trigrad and then follows the mountain ridge.
6. Glozhene Monastery
According to the legend, the monastery was built in the 13th century (1224), when Kievan Rus knyaz Georgi Glozh settled in the area with Ivan Asen II’s approval. The knyaz founded a monastery carrying the name of St George, whose icon he had brought with himself. The icon then disappeared numerous times only to be found on a hill not far from the village of Glozhene, which was interpreted by the monks as a divine sign to move the monastery there. This was eventually done near the end of the 14th century.
The two monasteries existed in parallel for a short time, being connected by a tunnel to each other, but the tunnel, used many times by Vasil Levski during his secret missions, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1928. The monastery church was erected after the creation of the monastery in the 14th century, but was destroyed by another earthquake in 1913 along with its frescoes. The modern church was constructed in 1951 on the grounds of the old one.
7. The Red Church
The Red Church (Bulgarian: Червена църква, Chervena tsarkva, pronounced [tʃɛrˈvɛnɐ ˈtsərkvɐ]) is a large partially preserved late Roman(early Byzantine) Christian basilica in south central Bulgaria. Dating to the late 5th–early 6th century, the church stands near the town of Perushtitsa in western Plovdiv Province, some 15 kilometres southwest of the city of Plovdiv.
The Red Church is a rare example of solid brick construction in a church from Late Antiquity in Bulgaria, and it was the red colour of the bricks that gave the church its name.
8. The Highest in the world statue of the Holy Virgin Mary
9. The Devil’s Throat Cave
Devil’s Throat Cave is located in the Western Rhodopes, 17 km from the city of Devin. It is among those caves that do not offer dazzlingly exquisite rock formations. What entrances visitors is the possibility of embarking on a real journey of discovery, partaking of a mysterious and awe-inspiring underground kingdom.
The cave’s entrance resembles a devil’s head, and down its throat rushes a massive waterfall that from ancient times has captivated imaginations and given birth to numerous legends.
The most popular of these is that Orpheus descended down this orifice to the subterranean kingdom of Hades, to seek his lost love Eurydice.
10. Museum of the architectural historical reserve Bozhents
According to the legend the village of Bozhentsi is with a history more than 600 years. The legend tell us about the noble woman Bozhana – in 1393 the capitol Tarnovo was conquest by the Ottomans, and Bozhana run away to the deep forests of the Balkan, next to a small river. She settled down on the north side of Stara planina and established Bozhentsi.
The village is located near to the old Roman road Nikopolis ad Istrum – Augusta Trayana – Constantinople. The rising of Bozhentsi was at 18th and 19th century. The merchants from the village traded in whole Ottoman empire, Russia, Austria, Italy. In the end of 19th century there are around 110 houses and 500 residents in Bozhentsi.
11. Srebarna Nature Reserve
The Srebarna Nature Reserve is a freshwater lake adjacent to the Danube and extending over 600 ha. It is the breeding ground of almost 100 species of birds, many of which are rare or endangered.
Some 80 other bird species migrate and seek refuge there every winter. Among the most interesting bird species are the Dalmatian pelican, great egret, night heron, purple heron, glossy ibis and white spoonbill.
12. Fortress Ovech
Ovech Fortress is a stone stronghold located east of the town of Provadia, 53 km west of Varna and 410 km east of Sofia.
The fortress is mentioned under different names in the historical chronicles. The oldest one is the Byzantine name Provat. Bulgarians referred to it as Ovech, while Turks called it Tash hisar (which translates from Turkish as stone fortress). Archaeological research established that the fortress was used in periods from the 3rd century to the first decades of the 7th century, and then from the 10th-11th centuries until the end of the 17th century.
13. St. Ivan Island
The island St. Ivan is the largest Black Sea island on the water territory of Bulgaria. Its area is 660 dca, and its highest point is 33 meters above sea level. It is located at a distance of one kilometer from Sozopol.
The island is a natural and archaeological reservation placed under the protection of the state by decree promulgated in issue 35 of the State Gazette, 1965.
There is a lighthouse on the island, which guides the vessels to the Burgas Bay.
Tsar Asen (Bulgarian: Цар Асен) is a village in Pazardzhik Municipality, Pazardzhik Province, southern Bulgaria. As of 2006 it has 384 inhabitants. The village is located on one of the several roads between Pazardzhik and Panagyurishte. There is a copper mine in the vicinity.
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