Content type: Photos
When you decide to travel North from the capital Sofia, less than an hour away on the Hemus highway you will reach the town of Botevgrad. A short stop for relaxation and a walk in the city center and surroundings. Through the rich collection of the Historical Museum in a beautiful building in the center of the city, you will walk through the eras of the early Neolithic, through the Thracian settlement on the territory of today’s Botevgrad, through the eras of the Middle Ages and late feudalism, the beginning of the Renaissance and the National Liberation Struggle.
An exceptional landmark and pride of the city is the Clock Tower. It was built in 1862-64, and the original clock mechanism is kept in the Historical Museum, and the current one continues to count down the time faithfully every round hour, ringing the city with its melodious chime. The tower is the highest and the oldest operating tower of this type in Bulgaria and the Balkans. Upon prior request, its interior can be climbed every day by those who wish. From the height there is a view of the entire Botevgrad municipality.
If it happens to visit the city on a Thursday afternoon or on a holiday, you could enjoy the performances of the city’s brass band or cheerleading ensemble. In the month of May, an annual international festival of brass bands takes place in Botevgrad with participants from all over the world.
In the surroundings of Botevgrad, in the bosom of the Botevgrad valley, there are numerous active Orthodox monasteries, most of which are surrounded by accessible eco-paths.
All of them are clearly marked and have explanatory signs in both Bulgarian and English, well maintained and refined.
Along them you can reach the remains of remarkable medieval fortresses such as Bozhenishki urvich, Borovets fortress, Kaleto, as well as several springs (ayazmo)of water with healing properties according to legends.The eco-trails in the municipality will also take you to amazing natural phenomena such as the Lipnishki rocks, caves and waterfalls, to the iron water – a mineral spring whose water is known to have the hightest iron content in Bulgaria.
The century-old beech and oak forest of the “Uchilishtna Gora” reserve near the village of Bozhenitsa will shelter you in the summer, when temperatures in the city often exceed 32 degrees Celsius. The protected localities “Dreneto” and “Rudinata” are among the preferred nearby walking routes of Botevgrad residents.
However, what attracts the most nature lovers and biologists from all over the world is the natural landmark “Frog Marsh”, where a mountain frog (Rana Temporaria) lives during the warm months of the year. Local representatives of the species, unlike their counterparts around the world, migrate more than 6 km, climbing the banks of three streams, high in the mountains before winter and return to their “native home” in spring – a phenomenon that is not known elsewhere in Europe.
Before you continue your journey from Botevgrad as breckfast, lunch or snck, you should try some of the local culinary specialties such as Botevgradska topenitsa, vitata banitsa or kachamak.
The Botevgrad valley, hidden in the foothills of Stara Planina, is a biologically clean area, with excellent fruit growing gardens where cherries, strawberries, and apples are traditionally grown. Beekeeping is an activity raised to a cult by the local population and in rural areas you will see beehives in almost every yard. You can also enjoy a simple walk in the city park with plenty of exotic tree species and varieties of kid’s fun park facilities.
From Botevgrad, you can safely continue your journey to Danube Bulgaria through Vratsa and Montana, to Belogradchik and Vidin, Lom, Ruse or choose the road to the East to the Northern Black Sea and Varna, passing along the entire Stara Planina through picturesque towns and villages with centuries-old remarkable culture and history, among the amazing natural beauty and numerous mineral springs of Bulgaria. Good Way!
Our journey through time and art will start with Magura cave. Its formation began more than 15 million years ago. Protected by UNESCO as a natural landmark, Magura Cave resembles an underground cathedral and is one of the most impressive tourist attractions in Eastern Europe. What makes it truly unique are the exceptionally well-preserved ancient drawings, which have no analogues not only in Bulgaria. They are kind of prehistoric art. Similar ones have been found only in France, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.
The first traces of human presence in Magura cave date back 8 000 years BC. People inhabited it until the Early Bronze Age. This is proved by the discovered fragments of pans, pots and cups.
In cult scenes, women are drawn taller than men because this was the time of the matriarchy. The different compositions reflect the everyday life of the people of that time, as well as their primitive ideas about the structure of the world. The images are from different eras and it is impossible to describe: dancing female and male figures, men hunting and masked people who participate in rituals that are unfamiliar to us, a fantastic array of people, animals, geometric figures, images of suns and stars. Decades have passed, and the drawings created with bat guano are still so vivid. That must be why Magura cave is called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Belogradchik rocks, another natural landmark, are located near the Magura cave. With their amazing beauty, they are a true miracle of nature.
The “Opera of the Peaks” festival is held there every year during the summer – an innovative idea, an unusual stage concept to present the art of opera amidst the magical beauty of the Belogradchik rocks.
The energy of the stone giants calms down, invigorates and uplifts the spirit. Combined with the high art of opera, it gives a real pleasure.
Belogradchik rocks give the audience a different way to experience their favorite works of art. Guests are able to enjoy opera and ballet under the open sky, combining the experience with a sightseeing tour of the area.
Bulgaria is known all over the world for its yogurt. In Japan, for example, yogurt has been produced under a Bulgarian license under the name “Bulgaria” for more than 50 years, and millions of Japanese people start their day with Bulgarian yogurt.
Yogurt has long-proven beneficial effects on the human body. It improves the condition of the intestinal microflora, favors the gastrointestinal tract and normalizes peristalsis. For this reason, it is recommended as part of a complete diet and it is considered as a food for longevity.
Yogurt with a fat content of 2% and 3.6% is a complete food for all ages. It is an invaluable source of probiotics. Calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and chlorine are constantly present in milk, and we all know how useful they are.
Bulgarian scientists regularly study the composition of milk and find that its beneficial properties are a good prevention against many diseases and alarming symptoms such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and others.
According to some researchers, the word „yogurt“ was born on Bulgarian land. Scientists claim that the Thracians who lived here first called the lactic acid products they made with it. Today, «yoghurt» is the word that people from different parts of the world use to name yogurt.
Historical studies show that lactic acid fermentation and lactic acid products have been known in Bulgarian lands since ancient times. Centuries later, in 1905, after many experiments, the Bulgarian scientist Prof. Stamen Grigorov discovered “one stick” in the composition of yogurt. It remains in history as “Lactobacterium bulgaricum” after the homeland of its discoverer. Thus, the history of the famous bacterium Lactobacillus bulgaricus becomes Bulgarian history.
Sofia, Bulgaria. Summer heat in the panel complexes. It’s so hot that people are in desperate need of cooling off. At the same time, there are not so many suitable places, and they are also pretty expensive. If a family of four goes to the only mineral pool in town, they will spend a respectable amount of money only for admission. So what is the solution?
I am living in one of these stuffy panel complexes, so I had to think it up and make it.
The solution is located on the opposite side of the city, at the foot of the mountains surrounding the Bulgarian capital. There are three natural mineral springs near one of the villages there. All of them have a small debit, so they are not of interest to the business. Local people have made a makeshift bath next to the one closest to the village. It is the most popular and crowded, which takes away from its appeal.
There are two more mineral springs up in the mountain. In their original state, they looked more like puddles. In both places, the mineral water springs near a cold river, but is mixed with mud and debris from the mountain. When I first went to the second puddle years ago, it could hold a maximum of 3-4 people at the same time. So I took it upon myself and, over the course of months and years, I did enoble this place.
I go there almost every day. I bring cement and with sand and stones from the river I build up the puddle, which at the moment looks like a pretty decent pool in the middle of the forest. My journey takes about three hours one way: two by public transport and one on foot through rough terrain. Now the water hole is big enough to accommodate 20 and more people. It has three levels: the deepest, just over two meters, is the original spring, then an intermediate level, and the shallowest is for children. The water is about 29 degrees Celsius, which is great in the summer (you can soak in the water, while basking in the sun), but it’s also good for use in winter.
In summer, the sun shines on the place between 11 am and 5 pm. Then it gets cold. I drain the pool so that the water does not turn green from the algae and I clean the bottom. Then I put a plug in to fill the entire volume again. Draining the reservoir takes 10-12 minutes, while filling takes six hours, due to the small flow rate.
And so every day. For the pleasure of the tourists and for my personal satisfaction. I call what I have build “my Jacuzzi”.
In fact, it does not belong to me, but to all the residents and guests of Sofia, who know this little secret. It is free, accessible, in the fresh mountain air, and less than an hour’s drive from the center of Sofia! I’m not telling you exactly where it is, but it’s just nice to know that it’s there, because it brings optimism and glee as well as hope and faith that it’s possible to have such a corner of heaven nearby.
For decades Vitosha has been one of the most favorite places for spending time amongst nature and have a walk – a pleasant gift for the citizens of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
The most picturesque places in the Vitosha mountain are – it’s highest peak – Cherni vrash (2 290 meters high), Golden Bridges, Kamen del peak, lands around Bistritsa and Zeleznica, which offer wonderful conditions for a family picnic and tourism.
It’s a Sunday winter morning and I’m walking down the magical path toward Golden Bridges. I was surprised of the way I has left astonished of the magic that this mountain hides. You can only assume that a fairy could appear from the snow. Everything is white, snow covered everywhere. Silence makes me listen the story that nature tells by itself.
The path is swirling upwards around the river. The birds are singing happily. Aren’t those songs that glorify the beauty of the nature? The snowflakes sparkling like little golden pearls which embellish the trees and all of the greenery. The smell of freshness is spread everywhere. You are exclaim how clean and beautiful it is. This is the magic of Vitosha!
The Rila Monastery – my favorite place, is located near my home town Rila. I grew up here, I was baptize here and I visit this holy place every time I need more emotional power and every time I realize the magic of this place.
The Rila Monastery is located amidst herbs and sweet with resin fragrance woods deep in the valley of the Rilska River in the Rila Mountain. It is an amalgamation of religious, residential and farm buildings. It is distinguished by its unique architecture. The twenty-four-meter long stone walls of the foundation of the buildings form an irregular quadrangle rendering the monastery the appearance of a fortress from the outside. Therefore, upon entering through one of the two iron gates tourists are taken by surprise by the soft architectural forms: arcs and colonnades, covered wooden stairs and carved balconies in front of the premises – around 300 in number. In the cobblestone courtyard there coexist the stern holes of the Tower of Hrelyu built by Sebastocrator Hrelyu in 1335 and the silver domes of the Main Church built in 1834-1838.
Founder of the Rila Monasrety is the first Bulgarian hermit monk Saint Ioan Rilski (876-946) who chose to live in the Rila wilderness as a way of coming close to God.
The Rila Monastery is at the top place in the World heritage list of cultural and natural sites to the UNESCO.
In the autumn of 2022 I made a trip at northern England and visited the Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. The castle is quite impressive with its architecture and is created as a modern museum, telling plenty of stories. In one of the halls there is an interactive table where visitors can listen to the stories of the people that lived in the castle. Thus I felt like the castle is alive and these ancient walls have so much stories to tell. Apart from this , the view from the gardens of the castle is breathtaking. It is a place worth visiting, especially for families with children.