Issue 110

MYSTERIOUS ROADTRIP

Travelling around a country sometimes brings you to sights and places strange and inexplicable. Bulgaria abounds with these. Some are millennia old and others appeared only a decade ago. Their strangeness may lie in their lack of familiarity to the visitor, or it may be the result of something mundane, such as the lack of proper signage. Or it can be attributed to the widespread lack of common sense in Bulgaria, or could be a factor that the ancient Romans would have called genius loci, the spirit of the place.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

DECYPHERING RILA MONASTERY

Black-and-white striped arches, technicolor murals of saints and sinners and high mountain peaks filling the horizon: a visit to Rila Monastery is one of Bulgaria's most memorable experiences, and not only because of its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This place unites stunning landscapes, spirituality, formidable art and architecture, and some interesting stories. It is hardly a surprise that both Bulgarian King Boris III and Irish journalist James Bourchier wished to be buried here, in 1943 and 1920 respectively.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

KOLEDARI BRING CHRISTMAS TO YAMBOL

The 45 years of forced atheism and fast urbanisation during Communism, combined with the post-1990 influx of imported traditions via movies, media and merchandise, achieved what would have seemed impossible only 100 years before. Repression and outside influences succeeded in killing the traditional way in which Bulgarians celebrated Christmas.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

SOFIA IN THE 1990S

After several years of hectic building and reconstruction – including new Roman ruins and roads that need repairing only two weeks after they have been inaugurated by the prime minister – Sofia looks transformed. In many ways it is. Chain stores and shopping malls dominate the urban landscape, foreign tourists fill the downtown area, and Western coffee culture is replacing the older, Balkan one. There is a metro, and the graffiti are much more sophisticated than the erstwhile political or emotional slogans scribbled on walls. McDonalds is not a novelty and sushi has gone out of fashion.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

B. B. ON CHINESE SILK

Infrastructure projects such as linking Sofia to Beijing by high speed train were obviously on the table, in order to recreate what his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, called a "New Silk Road."

Boyko Borisov went home with a present, a Chinese-designed portrait of himself.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

LIVING IN EARTHQUAKE'S SHADOW

On 7 December 1988, the world was hit by the news of a devastating earthquake that killed at least 31,000 and injured about 130,000 people in the little-known Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia. Buildings lay in ruins and thousands were left homeless in a cold winter's dawn. Shockingly, Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the mighty USSR, admitted his country was unable to deal with the destruction, the search for survivors, and the rebuilding.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment