Visitors to Bulgaria will discover a land of picturesque villages and stunning nature. Many tourists come to the country to spend time on the sandy Black Sea beaches in the summer, and others come to the world-class ski slopes in the winter. Many visitors will limit their sightseeing to the museums, galleries, and churches of Sofia, the capital; or to the Old Town of Plovdiv—the country’s second largest city—and its colourful Bulgarian renaissance architecture.
For those who prefer to see something else in their travels, an exploration of Bulgaria’s legends, history and culture is very worthwhile. Slightly off the beaten path, here are five unusual places to discover when visiting Bulgaria.
This fortress in north western Bulgaria is known not only for its Disneyesque appearance but also for its hilltop setting overlooking a landscape of strangely shaped rock formations. The original Belogradchik fortress dates back to Roman days, when the rocks afforded natural protection, but the stronghold was refortified over the centuries and played a role in the Bulgarian uprising against the Ottomans in the mid-19th century.
Devil’s Throat Cave.
This cave in the western Rhodope Mountains gets its name from a formation deep inside that looks like the Devil’s throat, if you use your imagination. Part of the cave’s appeal is the story of Orpheus, the legendary ancient Greek musician and prophet who descended into the cave and its subterranean kingdom of Hades in search of his lost love, Eurydice. Visitors can walk through the cave, possibly retracing the trail of Orpheus, and emerge into daylight by climbing a steep, wet staircase.
The remnants of a medieval fortress overlooking the Black Sea is not far from Bulgaria’s border with Romania. The entire coastline has steep vertical cliffs and the area is noted for the migrant birds that pass overhead. Due to the strong winds, a large field of wind turbines can be seen nearby. Kaliakra is most famous for its legend of 40 Bulgarian maidens who tied their hair together and jumped into the Black Sea in order to escape captivity by the Ottomans.
Ancient ruins on a rocky hilltop in southern Bulgaria are thought to belong to a place sacred to the Thracians, a tribal nation that ruled a good part of the Balkans before the time of the Romans. Archaeologists have discovered remnants of a multi-story palace, a fortress, and a temple, as well as a church from a much later date. From the top of Perperikon, the view of the surrounding Rhodope Mountains and plains is quite spectacular.
One of the most fascinating places to visit in central Bulgaria is this cave, located slightly off the main highway between Sofia and Ruse. Prohodna is known for two eye-like holes high in its ceiling. This formation in the karst cave is called the Eyes of God. Standing in the cave under these eyes, one can truly imagine a heavenly power looking down at you. There is a small parking lot at the main entrance but you’ll need to have good balance to make your way down to the cave.
No matter where visitors go, they will certainly enjoy exploring everything Bulgaria has to offer. You certainly don’t have to win the lottery playing EuroMillions to be able to afford a visit to the country as prices are quite reasonable. Direct flights to Sofia are available from the United Kingdom, and there are charter flights that fly to Varna and Burgas as well. Make your travel plans and get ready to visit Bulgaria, as well as some of its most unusual places