America for Bulgaria Foundation

seamstresses

FROM RAG TO LABEL

If you arrive in the village of Breznitsa in the evening, you’ll catch the glint of a gold-laminated minaret out of A Thousand And One Nights. The minaret and the entire revamping of the mosque was done through a donation by a local entrepreneur who commissioned Ukrainian craftsmen.

Against the blue peaks of Pirin Mountain, the scene is like a film set. Then you’ll see groups of different-aged women walking down the street. They are going home, and they are the women who stitched your clothes from rag to label. 

Sat, 07/31/2021 - 18:30
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old bridge bulgaria ottoman

BULGARIA'S WONDROUS BRIDGES

With their ingenuity, some bridges puzzle, and those you will find in Bulgaria are no exception. Some of them are centuries-old, while others are relatively new. What unites them is their beauty and their strength to withstand the passage of time, the burden of traffic and the power of swollen rivers. Many of them also come with a gloomy legend or two. Here is a selection of some of the bridges in Bulgaria that merit more than a single visit and an Instagram post.

DEVIL'S BRIDGE

Sat, 07/31/2021 - 18:10
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mausoleum alexander of battemberg

FORGOTTEN MAUSOLEUM

The stories of what happened to the bodies of those who ruled Bulgaria post-1878 are as poignant as some of their deeds. King Ferdinand (1887-1918) was buried in 1948 in Coburg, Germany. Ferdinand had abdicated following his disastrous leadership of the Kingdom of Bulgaria through the Great War, and settled in his native Germany. His son, King Boris III (1918-1943) was buried inside the Rila Monastery church, but soon after the 1944 Communist coup his remains were exhumed and lost - or destroyed.

Sat, 07/31/2021 - 18:01
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bulgarian rose

DARK SIDE OF BULGARIAN ROSE

You have already seen it: in Bulgaria's official logo, on fridge magnets, boxes of Turkish delight, cosmetics, Facebook and Instagram posts, and any tourism promotion material imaginable. The oil-bearing rose is one of Bulgaria's most recognisable national symbols, a fragrant and humble flower that thrives in one particular region and powers a global luxury market.

Mon, 06/28/2021 - 15:58
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the bathing 2.jpg

THE BATHING

Sculptor Pavel Koychev, a household name for anyone interested in Bulgarian art in the past 50 years, marked his 82nd birthday with inviting a select group of individuals to attend the inauguration of an idiosyncratic installation by the village of Osikovitsa just off the Hemus Motorway, at the end of May. The "sculptures" – foldouts depicting famous works of art through the centuries – were planted, using an elaborate mechanism involving ropes and weights, inside a lake behind the wall of a service station.

Mon, 06/28/2021 - 15:38
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stara planina

FROM START TO FINISH

Bulgaria has plenty of mountains and peaks that challenge even experienced mountaineers, yet one of its greatest outdoor adventures is not just conquering some 2,900-metre-high summit. It is trekking along the ridge of the Stara Planina, the mountain range that divides Bulgaria from west to east, known also by its more poetic name, the Balkans.

Mon, 05/31/2021 - 11:29
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The mansion of the wealthy Kordopoulov family looms over the rest of Melnik, surrounded by the town's emblematic sandstone cliffs

(RE)DISCOVERING MELNIK

What is Bulgaria's smallest town? Bulgarian children learn the answer early in school. However, the reason both local and foreign tourists visit Melnik, population 194, is not its size. They cherish Melnik, in southwest Bulgaria, for its well-preserved Revival Period architecture, strong local wine and surreal surroundings of white limestone pyramids. Its location is just off the E79 route from Sofia to Greece, a short drive from Bansko.

Mon, 05/31/2021 - 11:18
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The restored Radetzky

BANKS OF KOZLODUY

On 28 May 1876, the passengers of the Radetzky, a steamer headed on the Danube to Vienna, were in for a surprise. As the ship was heading upstream, three men in strange military uniforms, swords and guns in their hands, appeared on the deck. Their leader, a handsome bearded man, cried something and suddenly young men, that until then had looked like ordinary gardeners heading for seasonal work in Austria-Hungary, gathered around the band. Dozens of them. They took off their clothes and put on uniforms. More weapons were seen onboard.

Mon, 05/31/2021 - 10:52
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fireflies magic in bulgaria

FIREFLIES MAGIC

Much has been said and written about the beauties of Bulgarian nature and the abundance of its wildlife. Birdwatching, for example, has become a mainstream tourism activity that many travel agents organise for Western visitors. Yet little if anything has been promulgated about another remarkable if not so obvious (for obvious reasons, pun unintended) treasure that Bulgarian forests, meadows and riversides have: the abundance of fireflies.

Mon, 05/31/2021 - 10:44
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strange rocks belogradchik

NATURE MEETS CULTURE AT BELOGRADCHIK ROCKS & MAGURATA CAVE

Abandoned villages, depopulated towns, potholed roads: signs that things have gone horribly wrong in the recent past define the Bulgarian northwest, officially the poorest region in the EU. Vegetation engulfs abandoned factories built during Communism when the economy was subsidised – and left to rot during the turbulent transition to democracy and the open market. As industries failed, locals departed for Sofia and the West. What remained was an ageing population, crumbling infrastructure, crime and despair.

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 17:58
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whitewater rafting bulgaria

WHITE WATER RIDES IN BULGARIA

City fatigue is one of the most acute consequences of the Covid-19 travel restrictions. For the weary Sofianite, there is somewhere in Bulgaria that offers rapid relief. An hour and a half drive out of town, the jagged and winding Struma Gorge is hell for motorists and heaven for nature lovers. At this part of its course, the Struma squeezes through narrow bends, flings itself from rocks and creates whirlpools.

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 17:13
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abandoned hospital bulgaria

BULGARIAN HORROR

As you drive up the progressively deteriorating road through the Balkan mountains the scenery changes. From the flats of the Lower Balkan fields northwards you enter an increasingly menacing landscape of steep hills and rocks, with what is known as the Trans-Balkan Railway line (cutting the Balkan mountain range from Stara Zagora in the south to Gorna Oryahovitsa in the north) meandering alongside a tiny river. Then, about 10 miles north of Dabovo, you take a steep road that was once asphalt.

Thu, 04/01/2021 - 11:31
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