Tourism – a traditional branch of the regional economy – is
historically linked with the development of north-eastern Bulgaria. Some of Bulgaria’s most prestigious tourist resorts have been built along the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast – Albena, Golden Sands and Saint Constantine.
The region of Varna is one of the main centres of science and culture in the country. Nine institutions of higher education are located in this region, four of which are in the town of Varna. It is a major economic, cultural and administrative centre and one of the Bulgarian towns with the most dynamic development.
One of the main characteristic features of the region is the high degree of concentration and specialization of production. Industry is an important branch, mainly represented by shipbuilding and engine manufacture, while automobile production is concentrated in the towns of Shoumen and Veliki Preslav. Of great importance to the region and the country are also the food industry, production of glassware, porcelain, glazed earthenware, shoes, textiles, clothes, electronics and electrical household appliances.
Vine growing and wine production are very important for the development of agriculture in this part of Bulgaria. Some of Bulgaria’s oldest wine cellars are to be found in the region of Varna. All in all, agriculture is the mainstay branch of the regional economy.
The Euxinograd Palace and Park
The construction of the Euxinograd Palace started in 1882. It was designed by the Viennese architect Ruppelmeyer. In that year the Bulgarian Prince Alexander Battenberg accepted as a present from the Council of senior clergy at the Greek Bishopric the monastery Saint Dimitar with all its fields, vineyards and buildings. Later the prince expanded the estate to its present-day boundaries, some 8 km north of Varna, sprawling on 80 hectares. The palace was first named Sandrovo (after the name of its owner Alexander Battenberg- Sandro) but in 1983, at the request of Princess Maria Louisa, wife of the new Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand, the estate was given a new name – Euxinograd which means a „hospitable town”.
The construction of the famous Euxinograd Park began in 1890. Over 200 different plant species from the Mediterranean, Asia and South America, personally selected by the Tsar grow here in amazing harmony. A deodar (a cedar from the Himalayas) as old as one hundred years is planted in a special fertile soil taken from the mouth of the Kamchia River. Next to it grow tall palm trees. Two exquisite bridges
– one made of metal, the other- made of cement imitating the trunk of a felled tree, give the finishing touch to the park architecture.
Today Euxinograd is a government residence.
The Palace in Balchik and the Botanical Garden
All tours of Balchik inevitably include a visit to the Quiet Nook Palace and its magnificent park sprawling on an area of 35 hectares. Over 3 000 plants grow here and this is a proof that the climate in this part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is si not only for the flora of Mediterranean plants but also for rare plant species from all corners of the earth. Among the masterpieces of the art of park design is the Rose Garden and the Garden of Cactuses which is the second largest collection of cactuses in Europe . It numbers over 250 different species.
The former summer residence of the Romanian Queen Mari has a striking effect on the visitor for its unique romantic design and atmosphere. The Italian architects Americo and Augostino created a genuine legend matching the beauty of nature with the materialised visions of dreaming poets. Thus, in 1926 they created one of the unique architectural ensembles along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The park of the palace was designed as a replica of the famous labyrinth of the island of Crete. The Chapel is a copy of a Cretan shrine and an elegant detail that complements the architectural ensemble. Its wall paintings depict the queen and her daughter, as well as saints following the strict Eastern Orthodox traditions.
The alleys in the park will lead you to the world’s only palace with a minaret and next to it – in a complete harmony – a dome of a Christian church, a marble throne brought over from Florence,the Bridge of Sighs, large earthen jars from Morocco, a deep draw well in a Mediterranean style, and a pool, combining the Roman with Moorish style in decorative art. A legend says that Queen Maria was so strongly attracted to this place that she wished to remain here even after her death. When she died her heart was placed in a special container and put in one of the clocks in the park, guarded round the clock.
This is one of the most charming places along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast . Jutting out for 2 km into the sea, Kaliakra is the longest cape along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Its name means „beautiful cape” after the crimson colour of its cliffs.
Put up in the Hellenic era, the Kaliakra fortress was at its heyday in the 14th century when it became the stronghold of the Bulgarian nobleman Balik. During the Turkish invasion it was subject to an extremely cruel siege. All warriors and citizens of the fortress were murdered. Only 40 young maids were left alive. They decided to choose death to life in disgrace. When no one was watching them they plaited together their long hair, held their hands and jumped into the sea from the high cliffs.
The Aladzha Monastery
It is the best known rock monastery along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, 14 km away from Varna . The cells of the monks and the chapel were carved into the soft sandstone into a group of natural caves. The predominating opinion of scholars is that the monastery was under the influence of a religious teaching that was in circulation in Byzantium and Bulgaria at that time. It taught about the energy of God – „isichasm” or „hesychasm”.
Visitors today can see in the 40-odd metre high rock separate rooms of the monastery complex- the place of worship, the chapel, a special church for requiescat (mass for the dead), tombs, the kitchen, the dining room, the cells of the monks and work rooms. They all are situated on two natural terraces, one above the other. In the past, the church was richly decorated with wall paintings. Probably that is why the monastery was called Aladzha meaning „motley, multi-coloured”. In the 17th-18th century, the monastery was abandoned by the monks.
Located 18 km westwards from Varna they are one of the most incredible natural phenomena in Bulgaria. The natural stone pillars – some reaching 6 metres high, some up to 12 metres across at their base are known as „the petrified forest”.
Some columns resemble animals, others remind you of frozen fountains or cascades. Several rows of columns create the impression that each is made up of two cones balancing on their sharp points. The prevailing theory is that the „stone forest” near Varna was formed some 50 million years ago. At that time it was a part of the sea bottom. After the receding of the water the inorganic sediments eroded, thus attaining the marvelous forms we admire today.
the cosiness of the Bulgarian home
A visit to a Bulgarian home
is one most interesting attractions for foreign gu this country. It is a custom symbolizing Bulgarians� hospitality for the host and hostess to meet their guests at the threshold with a loaf of home made bread and some salt and a glass of wine or brandy. Friends and guests are invited to the table laden with palatable dishes, the traditional banitsa (cheese pastry) or sweets made by the hostess.
Tourists will see the ethnographic expositions of traditional clothing and objects of everyday life at the houses they visit.
… the art of making wine
Wine production hasl centuries-long traditions in the region of Varna. As early as the foundation of the Bulgarian Statel in 681 the Proto Bulgarians inherited the experience of the indigenous Thracianl population in vine growing and wine production. A proof of this is a wine cellar dating to the 7th-10th century in the area of Preslav. About 30% of vine plantations in Bulgaria are located in the northeast of the country. In the region of Varna white grapes predominate. The climate! and soil in its northern coastal strip is ideal for white semi dry and dessert wines, as well as natural sparkling wines.
The Euxinograd Cellar produces the famous „Euxinograd
wine” and wines from the grapes sorts Dimyat, Riesling, Chardonnay Ugni Blanc, Tamyanka, and Rkatsitelli. In the inland part of the region they grow mainly the grape varieties Dimyat, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel Rkatsitelli, Chardonnay, Aligote, Traminner, Silvaner and Sauvigni Blanc. The southern part of the region is famous for its Merlot, Pamil, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Misket, Tamyanka, Dimyat and Rieslinf varieties of grapes. White and red dry, semi-dry and dessert wines distillates for the production of brandy are produced in the inland part of the region and in its southern part. The village of Osmar is renowned all over the country for its wormwood wine called Osmarski Pelin.
The Bulgarian calendar of holidays and festivals has a date dedicated to Saint Trifon Zarezan – that’s on February 14th. The story about the canonization of Saint Trifon as the patron saint of vineyards in the Bulgarian lands first appeared in 1868 in an icon. The saint was depicted with a pruning knife in his hand. On February 14th every year men prune the vines and pour some wine in their roots for rich grapes harvest in autumn. All vine growers and wine producers put wreaths of cut vine sprigs on their heads or hats and then return home to celebrate till the morning.
�taste the difference
Gourm ands are unanimous in their opinion that the cuisine in the region of Varna is tasty, spicy and varied. It will be appreciated by people with the most fastidious palate. There is plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable, that have collected the sun of the seaside plains; juicy grilled meat, dishes with piquant sauces, delicious vegetarian dishes.
The culinary geography of Varna region is rich in palatable and exotic dishes: cheese pastry in the Dobrudja style, fish soup, mussel salads in the Balchik style, sea food made from fresh water and sea fish.
The folk style restaurants in the region offer the traditional shopska salad and chilled grape brandy, staffed vine or cabbage leaves and peppers, monastery stew (stewed meat and vegetables), kavarma the miller’s way, moussaka or stomna kebab.
Dried scad salad, fried turbot or baked blue fish are among the most popular local dishes. Small scad is traditionally offered fried or pickled like sardella. Salads are served with aromatic grape brandy, the main dishes are washed down with light dry white wines – Dimyat, Riesling, Chardonnay, Tamyanka or Rkatsitelli or dry red wines – Merlot, Cabernet or Gamza. The hot black coffee is served with a pancake with honey and walnuts or sweet juicy baklava (pastry with walnuts, cinnamon and syrup). The bottled table water is from sources in Targovishte and Kavarna. It is with low mineral content.
Here are some of the traditional regional dishes:
Kyopoolou – baked and grated aubergines with crushed garlic and ground walnuts.
Sardella – baked fish fillets with onions, garlic, black pepper and bay leaf.
Kavarma the miller’s way – pieces of meat stewed with plenty of onion.
Staffed vine leaves – the filling is made of rice, minced meat and many spices.