Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, front elevation, Sophia

Bulgaria - In a Nutshell

Author: Sue Rogers
Date: 20th September 2022

What is the History of Bulgaria?

The majority of Bulgaria was incorporated into ancient Thrace, but the area fell first to the Persians and then to the Romans followed by the Byzantines. The Byzantine dominion was invaded by first by peaceful hardworking Slavs and then belligerent proto Bulgarians who beat the Byzantines in battle (as the emperor went off to bathe in the springs to treat his gout and the soldiers thought unsurprisingly that he had run away). In 681, the first official Bulgarian state was created. This period is sometimes called the Golden Age of Bulgaria because it was a time of wealth, education, art, culture, and literature. The Proto Bulgarians under King Asperuh had signed a peace treaty. However, they studiously ignored it and were eventually reconquered by the Byzantines.

Three Bulgarian brothers led another successful revolution in 1185 and moved their capital to Veliko Tarnovo. There were multifarious plots against them, but the youngest Kaloyen, survived and punished all the traitors. The Ottomans were the next to invade and stayed in control until the Russian supported Liberation. The Treaty of San Stefano, signed at the end of the Balkan War, gave Bulgaria its independence from the Ottomans, as a separate monarchy.

The Bulgarians supported Germany during World War I, resulting in some loss of territory. After World War II, Bulgaria came under Communist rule and was a satellite of the Soviet Union (what is now Russia) until 1989. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Communists allowed the country to elect leaders of their own choosing. Bulgaria today. is governed by a president, prime minister, Parliament, and a Council of Ministers.

Bulgaria - Snippets of Information

  • Bulgaria is the only country in Europe whose name has not changed since the original establishment of the country (in 681 AD).
  • The official language is Bulgarian, and it is the oldest written Slavic language - written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
  • Bulgarian Orthodox is the main religion in Bulgaria, but the country is also home to Roman Catholics, Muslims (about 12% of the population), Protestants, and Jews.
  • In Bulgaria, the people shake their head for “yes” and nod their head for “no”, the opposite of many other cultures
  • Bulgarians claim to have invented yoghurt. Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, the bacterium that is responsible for giving Bulgarian yoghurt its unique flavour and consistency, can be found only in Bulgarian air.
  • The roses grown in Bulgaria’s “Rose Valley” produce most (70-85%) of the world’s rose oil – a component in many perfumes

Is Bulgaria a Safe Country to Visit?

  • Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare. However, you should take care of yourself and your belongings in the same way as you would do in the UK. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime, particularly in larger cities. Watch out for pickpockets and bag thefts in tourist areas and major public transport hubs, including airports. Be vigilant at all times, particularly late at night.
  • Tourists are targeted by thieves and pickpockets in Sunny Beach and other larger cities and resorts.

Is Bulgaria in the EU?

Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, and NATO.

Is Bulgaria a Poor Country?

Bulgaria has become much more stable in the years since communist rule. Its wealth is above average in terms of world rankings but it’s still one of Europe’s poorest countries and the poorest in the EU.

What is There to See and Do in Bulgaria?

  • Bulgaria is a land of contrasts, with its snowy mountains and huge (relatively) capital city Sofia in the west, and its golden sand beaches, Black Sea resorts and historic trading cities in the east. In between are rolling hills, lakes, fields, and truly magical rugged landscapes complete with tiny villages, monasteries and ancient fortresses. Nearly one third of Bulgaria is covered in forests.
  • Bulgaria is worldwide famous for its folklore and opera singers and musicians and it is especially proud of its rich folklore traditions. It’s a blend of Persian, Slavic, Greek, and Ottoman influences. Folk dances, music, national costumes and traditional rituals have an important place in the life of Bulgarians.
  • After Greece and Italy, Bulgaria has the third most valuable archaeological sites in the world, including over 15,000 Thracian tombs.
  • Most tourists head to the Black Sea coastline, though some travellers feel the area is too croded, full of high rise hotels and posisbly a little tacky... Though the ancient city of Nessebar is now a World Heritage site.
  • Outdoor activities and bear watching are available in the mountains. And of course. there are winter sports. in the peaks around Borovets and Bankso.

Read what I did here.

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