Revival Period

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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.

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 14:22
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BEST VILLAGE CHURCHES IN BULGARIA

Some are centuries old, with mediaeval murals and strong stone walls untouched by time. Others are the result of the revival of the Bulgarian national consciousness in villages that were once lively but are now inhabited mainly by tourists. Many are at village centres while others are remote from any inhabited place, the sole remnant of some long forgotten monastery, or a village submerged by some dam.

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 13:06
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THE BEST BULGARIAN BRIDGES

A legend is told all over the Balkans about a bridge and a stonemason. Once upon a time, a group of builders was commissioned to construct a bridge over a river, but whatever the men had built during the day was mysteriously destroyed during the night. Each morning the builders had to start from scratch.

Finally, the men saw the writing on the bridge, and realised that it wanted a human sacrifice. They reluctantly made a deal among themselves: on the following day, they would inter in the bridge the first person who came near.

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 13:19
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ARAPOVSKI MONASTERY: LESSER KNOWN GEM OF REVIVAL PERIOD

Yet, the country is dotted with many monastic complexes, which form the backbone of local tourism and religious life.

The Arapovski Monastery, about 12 km east of Asenovgrad, is one of these. Unlike most Bulgarian monasteries, Arapovo is not located at some hard-to-reach-but-picturesque corner of a mountain. Instead, it is on the fertile plain at the foot of the Rhodope.

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 12:34
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WHO WAS KOLYU FICHETO?

Bulgaria's traditional architecture of the 18-19th centuries has a charm that few – if any – newer buildings in the country can compete with. Preserved in small towns and villages, it is a harmonious blend of building and landscape, the intelligent use of natural materials and simple layouts which create nice living spaces during both hot Balkan summers and freezing winters. In the minimalist interiors, each detail matters. This architecture, both civic and religious, is aesthetically pleasing and designed to last for centuries.

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:24
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TRYAVNA

Shopping in the centre of Tryavna, a traditional town in the central Stara Planina, is a peculiar experience. Here and there, in the narrow shops infused with the aroma of 200-year-old wood, you can find the usual souvenirs and touristy stuff you are familiar with from other traditional places in Bulgaria. However, in Tryavna the ubiquitous carved wood items, icons and old aprons mingle with more ordinary goods, as the old Revival Period shops in the city centre also sell groceries and washing powder, books, shoes and toys, and plenty of the locally manufactured underwear.

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:43
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BULGARIA'S CLOCK TOWERS

The first clock tower in Bulgaria is probably the one built at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th Century in Plovdiv. At that time, clock towers were common in Europe, but were a novelty in the Ottoman Empire. The convenience of knowing the time was soon appreciated by merchants and craftsmen, and the clock tower fashion spread all over the country. Their number peaked in the 19th Century, and in Bulgaria there was hardly a city without its own clock tower.

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:25
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PLOVDIV TEMPLES PART 3

Strolling through the maze of cobbled streets and old buildings on the three hills that comprise the historical core of Plovdiv is an easy way to experience the long and at times turbulent past of the city. The stones under your feet are slippery and worn out by generations of citizens. Grander and smaller ancient Thracian and Roman buildings appear here and there, rubbing stones with medieval fortifications and the grand mansions of the 18-19th centuries with their bay windows, bent eaves and colourful walls.

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 18:28
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BRIDGE AT BYALA

Every day thousands of people pass by one of Bulgaria's most remarkable old bridges which spans the Yantra River near Byala, in the region of Ruse. Few, however, pay any attention to the elegant 19th Century structure. The bridge is close to the main road to Ruse and Bucharest, but the new bridge over the Yantra there is so awkward that it has witnessed many sometimes lethal accidents. Extreme caution is recommended, so most drivers never pay any attention to the surroundings.

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 11:43
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BOZHENTSI

The recent craze to escape the crowds has led thousands of tourists and holiday home hunters to the traditional mountain settlements in Bulgaria. Be it the Rhodope, the Stara Planina or the Strandzha, everywhere you can find once deserted houses which have been more or less well renovated and turned into lodgings or private villas. The craze has saved almost dead villages, like Leshten and Kosovo in the Rhodope, but has also killed the erstwhile pastoral atmosphere of places like Arbanasi near Veliko Tarnovo or Delchevo near Gotse Delchev.

In this crowd, Bozhentsi stands out.

Thu, 05/03/2012 - 09:46
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QUIET CHARM OF ELENA

The town is small now, but it used to be a centre of the Bulgarian Revival period. It was called the "Bulgarian Bethlehem," as it boasted three churches at a time when most towns and villages had either one, or none. As you enter it through the winding roads of the Stara Planina, the trees and bushes all around are arrayed in spring green.

Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:56
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WHO WAS VASIL LEVSKI?

Assert that you agree with, like, respect, adore and pray to Vasil Levski (1837-1873), Bulgaria's greatest national hero, and you are likely to get away with almost anything. Levski's portrait hangs in classrooms and factories, in police stations and, sometimes, even in private houses. Levski regards us from postage stamps and T-shirts. There is hardly a town or village in Bulgaria that does not have at least one street named after him.

Fri, 02/24/2012 - 10:29
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Hisar Kapiya is the most spectacular part of Plovdiv medieval fortress walls still preserved

PLOVDIV PLEASURES

The gentle sun caresses the skin, its beams turning the foliage on the trees into explosions of red, yellow and orange, and the multicoloured Revival Period houses in the city's old quarter look so cheerful that you forget about the cobblestones that are so difficult to walk on. Plovdiv is beautiful 365 days a year, but in autumn it becomes a true pleasure that you would be silly to deny yourself. The mellow autumn weather and the relatively few tourist are only a fraction of the reasons for thinking about an autumn trip to Bulgaria's second-largest city.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:56
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TOWN OF GOLD

The waitress in the café approaches the table, carrying a tray with two small cups of steaming Turkish coffee. Then she stops nearby and starts spinning the tray round and round in the air, the cups rapidly turning upside down. You might think that she has gone mad and you are going to end up with coffee all over your clothes, but this doesn't happen and in a few seconds you are enjoying the so-called coffee on sand. This is a specialty one must definitely try when in Zlatograd.

Sat, 08/06/2011 - 15:07
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ALL QUIET IN BRASHLYAN

Trapped in a house in the village of Sarmashik, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire back in April 1903, a small group of Bulgarians were wondering what fate would bring in the next few hours. Rebel leader Pano Angelov and his men had been preparing a revolt against the Ottomans when they were betrayed. Thus they found themselves holed up in the house in Sarmashik – now famous as Balyuvata kashta, or Balyu's House – surrounded by Turkish soldiers.

Sun, 02/21/2010 - 13:57
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THE DAY OF THE LION

On 19 February every year many Bulgarians gather in central Sofia, in the square encircled by the Serdika Hotel, the Foreign Art Gallery and the Faculty of Journalism. If you happen to be in the area you will probably be confronted by strict security as President Parvanov will be in attendance, standing before a line of elite troops and laying wreaths at a small monument in the middle of the square.

Thu, 02/01/2007 - 14:50
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