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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
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

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee