192-Part Guide To The World: Bulgaria

OFFICIAL NAME

OFFICIAL NAME

Republic of Bulgaria.

POPULATION

8.3 million.

SIZE

110,912 square kilometres, or almost four times bigger than Belgium.

BEST MONUMENT

Bulgaria has not only been consistently bullied and occupied by Russia over the last century and a half, but also, on one occasion, "liberated" byit. The capital Sofia's largest church, the neo-Byzantine Aleksander Nevski Church (built in 1912), was erected as a memorial to the 200,000Russian soldiers who died fighting for the independence of Bulgaria from Turkey.

NATIONAL DISH

Lots of variations of grilled meat. To try several kinds of meats at one go, order a mixed grill or meshana skara. Vegetarians might opt for asirene po shopski - cheese, eggs and tomatoes baked in an earthenware pot. Bulgarian yoghurt is also pretty famous and tarator is a refreshingcold soup of yoghurt, diced cucumber and onions.

CLIMATE

Cold, damp winters and hot dry summers. The Rodopy Mountains form a barrier to the moderating influence of the Mediterranean.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN

Geo Milev (1895-1925) was a poet with a social conscience, greatly loved by the communists. His best-known poem was "Septemvri", focusingon the Agrarian Revolution of September 1923. The authorities confiscated the volume in which the poem appeared and Milev was arrested andfined; after the trial he was kidnapped by the police and murdered, thereby ensuring his place in the pantheon of socialist martyrs.

BEST MOMENT IN HISTORY

The 1989 revolution has not brought the obvious benefits that the end of communism meant for some other countries in the region. A better timefor the Bulgarian people may have been the early 19th century, when a revival of popular and folkloric customs took place. For the first time,schools were opened and books were printed in the Bulgarian language.

WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY

1396, when Ottoman rule began, is no longer regarded as a terribly auspicious moment by many Bulgarians, despite the importance of thecultural heritage (baths, coffee, religion, and art) that the Turks left behind when they finally departed five centuries later.

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY

A pair of skis. The cheap and cheerful skiing season runs from December to April and is surprisingly well developed. On the southern outskirtsof Sofia, for example, there is Mt Vitosha, at 2,290m the most accessible of Bulgaria's ski areas. Hot dogs and coffees in resorts like this can costa fifth of what they would cost in the Alps.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Do not go to Stara Zagora, which has been described as one of the most unattractive, polluted towns in eastern Europe (which is really sayingsomething). Do not forget to take ear-muffs to defend yourself against the horrible classic-hits soundtracks that will accompany you every timeyou board a bus or enter a cafe.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada