Issue 188 https://vagabond.bg/ en PETAR TORNEFF: EXPLORING THE METAVERSE https://vagabond.bg/petar-torneff-exploring-metaverse-3431 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">PETAR TORNEFF: EXPLORING THE METAVERSE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">interview by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by Nelly Tomova</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 19:28</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>The director of Accenture Technology Center in Bulgaria on the endless possibilities of the modern digital experience</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/Petar%20Torneff.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/Petar%20Torneff.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="Petar Torneff, Director of Accenture Technology Center in Bulgaria" title="Petar Torneff, Director of Accenture Technology Center in Bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© Yana Lozeva</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>How will technology develop and how will it affect the way we live and do business? This is a tough question that has engaged the brightest minds of our time. Accenture is an organization that does not only consider the subject, but takes active action in implementing the future of technology now. Its concept for the Metaverse Continuum is a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds, realities and business models that will revolutionize life and enterprise in the next decade. It covers all aspects of businesses and stakeholders, jumps between reality and virtual reality, and blends cloud, AI, extended reality, digital twins, edge technologies.</p> <p>Does it sound too ambitious to be true? Accenture is more than ready and prepared for the challenge. As a leading international company, it provides a wide range of strategic, consulting, technological and operational services in digital technology, cloud space and security in over 120 countries and over 40 industries. It contributes to the overall transformation of businesses, in the conditions of adaptability to change and skillful establishment of innovations. Behind the promises of global teams of over 699,000 people are technology and human ingenuity.</p> <p>To understand more about Accenture's Metaverse, we talked to Petar Torneff, director of the company's Technology Center in Bulgaria. He has been working in the IT field for over 15 years and is a graduate in Computer Systems and Technologies at the Technical University of Varna, the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School and EMBA at the American University in Bulgaria.</p> <p><strong>Accenture recently published its annual technology report for 2022 – Meet Me in the Metaverse. What exactly is Metaverse and how will it change companies and people's lives?</strong></p> <p>Metaverse is being used more and more in different contexts. It might still sound abstract to many, but what Accenture puts behind the term Metaverse Continuum is the way we redefine how the world works, operates and interacts.</p> <p><img alt="Petar Torneff, Accenture Bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/petar%20torneff%20accenture%20bulgaria/petar_torneff_accenture.jpg" title="Petar Torneff, Accenture Bulgaria" /></p> <p>We live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, and businesses are facing a very different future from the usual business context. We already live in the future, and it impacts and reshapes the way we all live and work – starting from technologies to our human experiences. Companies find themselves at the intersection of many new worlds, from building new physical and virtual realities to providing services in environments created by others.</p> <p>As the line between people's physical and digital lives becomes thinner, organizations have the opportunity and obligation to build a responsible Metaverse – addressing issues like trust, sustainability, personal safety, privacy, responsible access and use, diversity, and more.</p> <p>However, many businesses are still not ready for this, or do not know where to start from. As an early leader in Metaverse-related capabilities, Accenture helps businesses find tailor-made solutions, define and work on a blend of actions we need to consider and take today, in order to set the stage they want to see themselves in the future.</p> <p><strong>How does Accenture plan to be a part of this transformation and to benefit people and organizations? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Metaverse?</strong></p> <p>We should not be afraid of the future, but rather plan for it timely and strategically. This is why we need to consider Metaverse as an advantage – the endless possibilities for personalization and diversification of the user experience.</p> <p>We are already implementing our own Metaverse – after all, our own people need to be prepared for it. So we have built the Nth floor – a place where our people are invited to participate, for example, in new hire orientation and immersive learning or meet and socialize as teams. This fiscal year, the company expects 150,000 or more new hires to work in the Metaverse on their first day.</p> <p>Accenture has decades of expertise in a wide range of industries and capabilities. Our solutions are tailored to the most complex business needs of customers. Even before the report Meet Me in the Metaverse we have referred to topics like extended reality, blockchain and quantum computing.</p> <p>We support companies in their digital transformation, market and potential assessment, digital productivity improvement, and international expansion strategies. Our Metaverse Continuum covers a wide spectrum of services such as, but not limited to, learning experiences, designing a responsible Metaverse approach, setting the strategic direction, and technology. We also define operating model strategies, design, build and operate the Metaverse capabilities.</p> <p><strong>Accenture works with global clients, while also supporting the digital transformation of local companies. How do you ensure the local team's capabilities to offer the same high standards?</strong></p> <p>We offer the same high standards regardless our geographical location. Our advantage is that we benefit from Accenture's expertise in over 40 industries globally. The Bulgarian team delivers multiple projects across e-commerce and retail, TelCo, automotive, finance, insurance, pharmaceuticals, sustainability, and more. We help businesses in their overall transformation by being more forward-looking and adaptable to change – for example, helping them with digital transformation, sustainability, cloud solutions, and security.</p> <p><img alt="Petar Torneff, Accenture Bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/petar%20torneff%20accenture%20bulgaria/Petar%20Torneff%20accenture.jpg" title="Petar Torneff, Accenture Bulgaria" /></p> <p>As our mission is to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity, we constantly invest in our people. We expand and challenge their competence by providing them first with a safe environment where they could apply and experiment with everything they learn. This is how they are prepared to provide more innovative solutions for our clients and simultaneously advance their careers.</p> <p><strong>Sustainability is a key component of successful businesses but often has a vague meaning. What does it mean for Accenture, as it pays special attention to it?</strong></p> <p>Indeed, sustainability is multi-dimensional, and so is our approach. We are making sustainability a force for change through technology and human ingenuity.</p> <p>It is not just the digital revolution that would transform our lives. There are numerous environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – from transitioning to a zero-carbon economy to human rights to inclusion and diversity. This is why we have made sustainability one of our greatest responsibilities – not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because we believe that it will create one of the most powerful forces for change in our generation.</p> <p>Accenture is committed to delivering 360˚ value to all our stakeholders. This is strongly linked to our Sustainability Value Promise – to embed sustainability into everything we do, with everyone we work with, creating both business value and sustainable impact.</p> <p><strong>How do you "translate" this promise in your daily work?</strong></p> <p>We invest all our expertise in our business projects, and in our socially-responsible initiatives locally.</p> <p>An interesting example from our business practice is a joint project with a global partner for the development of the circular economy through Responsible Design and Production. We have implemented it in support of the largest business players in the packaged goods industry, in reducing waste and in circulating products and materials. This is a step forward in fulfilling our mission to create a sustainable circular economy.</p> <p>We are also committed to many socially-responsible projects, and supporting non-governmental organizations. It is not only about financial support, but also about engaging our employees. Just for the last year, our team has invested over BGN 500,000 in donated funds and pro-bono activities. In addition to the financial contribution, the company participates in the development of the programs, engaging its employees in their development and implementation.</p> <p>A good example is the Cultural Perspectives Foundation, where we built the digital platform Culturama, in order to raise awareness of the opportunities for young talents motivated to develop in the field of art. It is an excellent example of how business and technology can elevate NGO business, and vice-versa – NGOs have taught us many things too.</p> <p>We have other good examples in the field of education and our mission to develop the IT industry and talents in Bulgaria, Jump2IT. Every year, along with our partner ITCE, we commit to providing the foundations to people with no tech background, and subsequently, support them in finding a job in the IT sector. We are also involved in assisting social entrepreneurs in building long-standing, sustainable projects, such as Dar Pazar and our partnership with BCNL.</p> <p><strong>The shortage of talents is among the key challenges in the IT field. What does Accenture Bulgaria do to offset this trend?</strong></p> <p>The tech sector is growing exponentially – and Bulgaria makes no exception. Companies' demand is already exceeding what the market can supply as IT talents. That is why, IT businesses need to work together on all fronts, including government and educational institutions.</p> <p>My belief is that we should go beyond training our own people and making academies for young professionals. We need to start investing in people with no IT background. There is a widespread belief that technology is just about programming, but in fact, it has so many faces, and constantly brings new opportunities. We have good examples in our own company – people with chemical, physical, and natural sciences, with humanitarian and legal backgrounds, who have been trained and empowered by us to elevate their careers.</p> <p>Accenture heavily invests in training its people – in 2021 alone, the company has dedicated over $900 million worldwide to training programs. Our Technology Center in Bulgaria is no exception – we step on the global platforms we have, and we provide tailor-made programs to the needs of our people.</p> <p><strong>In such a dynamic business environment, what are Accenture's plans for longer-term development, as part of the strategy for growth in the country?</strong></p> <p>Accenture has ambitious plans to develop its Technology Center in Bulgaria. We have already announced that we would open new jobs not only in Sofia and Plovdiv, but also in Varna, Ruse and Burgas. By 2024, we plan to have more than 500 employees, while expanding our capabilities and key projects globally. At the same time, we will continue working actively on training and developing our people's talents and opportunities for development, so that we help businesses innovate and grow. </p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/interviews" hreflang="en">BULGARIA INTERVIEWS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3431&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="njeWbVv4a6Ve7gZiSpp2WHwu5Dli8k6BQ1RWY3Bokwk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 16:28:25 +0000 DimanaT 3431 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/petar-torneff-exploring-metaverse-3431#comments IS PUTIN 'WORLD LEADER' OR SADISTIC VILLAIN? https://vagabond.bg/putin-world-leader-or-sadistic-villain-3430 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">IS PUTIN &#039;WORLD LEADER&#039; OR SADISTIC VILLAIN?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">text and photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 19:22</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgaria continues to be divided over Ukraine</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/pro-russia%20rally%20bulgaria.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/pro-russia%20rally%20bulgaria.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="pro-russia rally bulgaria" title="pro-russia rally bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">A hero?...</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Russia's invasion of Ukraine has polarised public opinion in Bulgaria. In fact, Bulgaria has emerged, since the start of the war in Ukraine, as the only EU state where public support for Putin remains high.</p> <p>According to a recent poll, Vazrazhdane, or Revival – the extremist party led by Kostadin "Kostya Kopeykin" Kostadinov that has adopted a virulent pro-Putin stance – has emerged as the fourth most popular political grouping in Bulgaria. It is now ahead of the BSP, or Bulgarian Socialist Party, which is also pro-Putin. Though ostracised by all other political parties Boyko Borisov's GERB remains the largest party in today's Bulgaria. Changes Continued of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has lost some of its support. And Democratic Bulgaria, the coalition of "urban right wing" intellectuals, is unlikely to be able to jump over the 4 percent election threshold and enter the next parliament if a general election were to be held now.</p> <p>Analysts agree that the main reason for the continuing popularity of the pro-Russian and anti-Western voices in Bulgaria is in fact outside of the country. It is in Ukraine.</p> <p><img alt="anti-Russia protest in Bulgaria" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/anti-russia%20rally%20bulgaria.jpg" title="anti-Russia protest in Bulgaria" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>... Or a villain?</em></p> <p>Another poll indicates that as many as 57 percent of the Bulgarians think NATO is at least as much responsible for the war in Ukraine as Russia (compare to just 8 percent in the UK, 9 in Finland and 10 in Denmark). Only 49 percent would welcome Ukrainian war refugees (compare to 82 percent in Croatia and 78 percent in The Netherlands). And just 18 percent of the Bulgarians approve of the ban on Russian media EU-wide (compare to 67 percent in Estonia and 64 percent in Poland).</p> <p>How come? How could this Balkan state, once an enthusiastic applicant for both NATO and EU membership, slip so badly down the road of uninformed populism? Why would Bulgaria buck the trend observed in all other EU countries of categorically and unambiguously condemning Putin's unprovoked invasion and subsequent atrocities in Ukraine?</p> <p>Trouble is – like so many other occurrences in these climes – that there is no given "right" answer to these questions. It's all up to personal preferences, likes and dislikes, propaganda and counter-propaganda on all sides – and first and foremost the unreproducible Balkan emotion that, more often than not, comes over common sense and rational thinking.</p> <p>On one side is the pro-Western government of Kiril Petkov. Petkov, Finance Minister Asen Vasilev and their associates favour a more decisive approach to the Ukraine crisis, including supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself.</p> <p>Opposed to that is Rumen Radev, the president. Radev, a former Air Force general, played a significant role in toppling the last Boyko Borisov government. Many credit him for that. However, his stance towards the war in Ukraine has been a lot less laudable. Radev thinks supplying weapons to the Ukrainian government will only "prolong" the conflict. This is both defeatist and hypocritical. You have to presume Putin is somehow bound to win to be able to claim arming the victim will just prolong the agony. To grasp the hypocrisy, one just needs to swap the roles. Imagine Romania invaded Bulgaria. Would helping Bulgaria fight against its northern (bigger and wealthier) neighbour be worth it? Or would it just prolong the ordeal?</p> <p>Then comes Kostadin Kostadinov's Revival party. Its recent successes can be explained in a Freudian fashion. Revival and its leader just speak out where no one else will. They articulate things – the usual mixture of truths, half-truths and plain lies – that no one else dares to say in public. In this way they reach the hearts if not the minds of their followers. Their rant is music to the ears of the conspiracy theorists.</p> <p>Conspiracy theories have a long tradition in Bulgaria and the other Balkan countries. They proliferated under Communism, where the government decided what news to "release" to the public and what to withhold. They continue to proliferate in the era of social media where there is an ostensible ocean of news and opinion but where no brave fisherman undertakes to verify what fish is edible and what is full of venom.</p> <p>Putin's supporters in Bulgaria tend to believe all the propaganda voiced by the Kremlin and its cronies. They genuinely think that the CIA clandestinely developed chemical weapons in secret factories in Ukraine. They do consider the legitimate Ukrainian government to be "fascist." And they do blame the West for toying with the idea of getting Ukraine, on the doorstep of Russia, in NATO – as if it is for Putin and his generals rather than the Ukrainian people to decide which way their country wants to go.</p> <p>Unfortunately, some people who authentically abhor the present-day Russian leadership resort to the same type of propaganda turned the other way round. Hristo Ivanov, the leader of the Yes Bulgaria political party, has produced a request for the de-Putinisation of Bulgaria. Obviously, few outside of Ivanov's dwindling but devout retinue would take whatever "de-Putinisation" means seriously – but apparently the Yes Bulgaria leadership are content with feeding their followers with the sort of broth they want to be fed with.</p> <p>Another interesting hypothesis was proposed by Iliyan Vasilev, Bulgaria's former ambassador to Moscow who was declared a persona non grata in the Russian Federation. Vasilev now casts himself as a hawkish influencer. According to him, GERB convinced the Russian giant Gazprom to turn off the gas tap on Bulgaria... in order to topple the Kiril Petkov government.</p> <p>Few Bulgarians would admit it, but there is yet another reason why Putin is so popular in this country. His rhetoric regarding the Ukrainian nation, language and history is sinisterly reminiscent of the language used by the Sofia establishment regarding North Macedonia. According to the Bulgarians, historically what is now North Macedonia was in fact Bulgaria. Sofia acknowledges the sovereignty of the former Yugoslav republic but is adamant about its national identity, history and language which it says are in fact Bulgarian. It wants those Macedonians who feel they are ethnic Bulgarians to be recognised as a minority, but refuses to legitimise a small political grouping in Bulgaria that wants Bulgaria to recognise the existence of a "Macedonian minority."</p> <p>Though the Kiril Petkov government is at this time unlikely to collapse over Ukraine, this may be a credible possibility if the stance towards North Macedonia and its bid to join the EU, which Bulgaria continues to block, remains unchanged. </p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/287" hreflang="en">Ukraine</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/politics" hreflang="en">BULGARIA POLITICS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3430&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="ET3CmRZ554y4aOX7xgzXWbUPwfg1CiQgw55m_cFDpHk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 16:22:47 +0000 DimanaT 3430 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/putin-world-leader-or-sadistic-villain-3430#comments QUOTE-UNQUOTE https://vagabond.bg/quote-unquote-3429 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">QUOTE-UNQUOTE</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 19:20</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><blockquote> <p>My biggest mistake was to believe war is a thing of the past. Truth is that war has always been a part of the future.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Solomon Pasi</strong>, president of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria</p> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><blockquote> <p>Do not interpret my criticism as a desire to topple the government.</p> </blockquote> <p>President <strong>Rumen Radev</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>If the most Russia dependent country with the lowest per capita GDP in the EU can afford to stand up to Putin, everyone should be able to stand up to Putin.</p> </blockquote> <p>Prime Minister <strong>Kiril Petkov</strong> in the New York Times</p> <blockquote> <p>Mr Radev's position that if we provide weapons to Ukraine we will prolong the conflict is a disgrace.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Asen Vasilev</strong>, Finance Minister</p> <blockquote> <p>Now some sissy rants about the dog I gave to Putin and the gas. Are you not ashamed? We did it for the people. Bulgarians love dogs... Now you cuddle spitzes, small dogs that do not look like dogs... spaniels, bologneses... and there was no Bulgarian breed. And when Putin came, he was prime minister back then, when he saw the dog, it leapt onto his legs. He cuddled it and took it. I told him, if you are going to take care of it, I will give it to you. Otherwise, I love it like a child, I would not give it to you. And he says, I promise I will take care of it. Let him deny it. Several days later I called him. I say: Hey, do not tear it apart it to seek chips and bugs, it is a precious soul, do not touch it.</p> </blockquote> <p>Former Prime Minister <strong>Boyko Borisov</strong> on the Karakachan dog he gave to Putin and Bulgaria's gas dependency on Russia</p> <blockquote> <p>Bulgaria's biggest problem is that all governments have protected Gazprom's monopoly.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Sasho Donchev</strong>, CEO of Overgas, on Bulgaria's energy dependency from Russia</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/quote-unquote" hreflang="en">QUOTE-UNQUOTE</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3429&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="MzxiRPq1p3oOd30urZLqtZA-YcCiFuXIQrQvmzijy3U"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 16:20:20 +0000 DimanaT 3429 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/quote-unquote-3429#comments FEW SNAKES AND NO RUSSIANS https://vagabond.bg/few-snakes-and-no-russians-3428 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">FEW SNAKES AND NO RUSSIANS</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 19:18</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Black Sea's 'other' Snake Island is in peaceful Bulgaria</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/snake%20island%20bulgaria.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/snake%20island%20bulgaria.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="snake island bulgaria" title="snake island bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Snake Island, Bulgaria</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>"Russian warship, go f*ck yourself!" When the Ukrainian defenders of Black Sea's Snake Island shouted out to the outnumbering Russian forces at the beginning of Putin's "special military operation," they hardly anticipated that they would coin a catchphrase that would define the conflict and become a global meme. Today everyone with access to unfiltered Internet is aware that somewhere in the Black Sea there is a piece of rock called Snake Island.</p> <p>However, few would know that there are in fact two Snake Islands in the Black Sea. The second, and smaller one, is in Bulgarian waters, off one of the most picturesque parts of the seashore south of Burgas.</p> <p>The Bulgarian Snake Island is just 3 acres in size. It is a piece in the rich jigsaw puzzle of sites of interest in Ropotamo River Nature Reserve: lush oak and mangrove forests, pristine beaches, intriguing rock formations like the Lion's Head, historical and archaeological sites like abandoned fortifications, dolmens and Begliktash, the ancient Thracian megalithic shrine.</p> <p>Snake Island itself has some unspectacular archaeological remains. Recent excavations have established that it was inhabited both by the Thracians in Antiquity, and the Byzantines, in the early Middle Ages. Later, a small monastery appeared on the island. It was probably dedicated to St Thomas, as this is the island's official name.</p> <p>St Thomas Island is known as Snake Island for an obvious reason. A vibrant colony of dice snakes, feeding on fish, live there. Holidaymakers on the beautiful and undeveloped beach by Ropotamo's estuary sometimes encounter them, swimming in the sea or sunbathing on some hot rock. The snakes are harmless but should be avoided: they are a protected species and must not be disturbed.</p> <p><img alt="The other Snake Island" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/snake%20island%20bulgaria%20black%20sea.jpg" title="The other Snake Island" /></p> <p>The snakes' presence on the island has impressed people since times immemorial. According to a local myth, the king and the queen of all reptiles lived there. Another claims that St Marina, the saint who is widely popular in the region and is considered the master of reptiles, would bring all "good" snakes in her underwater cave and would release the "bad" ones onto the island. Local fishermen would celebrate St Marina's feast, on 17 July, by catching snakes in their nets.</p> <p>Just like so many other interesting geological formations in Bulgaria, Snake Island has been ravaged by treasure hunters looking for legendary hidden gold. In recent years, New Agers also got interested in the piece of rock, claiming that it was created by the Thracians as a larger-than-life temple to Sun and Moon.</p> <p>If you swim or sail to Snake Island, you will be in for a surprise. A significant part of the island is covered in... cacti.</p> <p>The plants, of two Opuntia varieties, are not native. They were brought from Bratislava's Botanical Garden by Bulgarian King Boris III, in 1933, for some arcane reason. The king is said to have loved Snake Island. He and his retinue would often stop there during their hunting trips in the area.</p> <p>The newcomers felt well on Snake Island and soon spread, creating a thick, thorny blanket that is impossible to walk through.</p> <p>Sadly, another species that would call Snake Island home, has not been around for decades. The island's rugged shore used to provide hiding and breeding space to monk seals. The animal was once widely present in the Bulgarian Black Sea, but was hunted to extinction in the 20th century by fishermen because it used to steal fish from their nets.</p> <p>However, birds from all Europe who stop at Snake Island during their annual migrations to and from Africa continue to do so, unchangingly, in spring and autumn.</p> <p>Luckily, Putin has not yet eyed the Bulgarian Snake Island. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/254" hreflang="en">The Black Sea</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3428&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="RBqxW_k2wNVb_M6CX2OT28nAIv1OrE-fTSouZ272FcE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 16:18:24 +0000 DimanaT 3428 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/few-snakes-and-no-russians-3428#comments WHERE CAN YOU SEE GENUINE FIREWALKERS? https://vagabond.bg/where-can-you-see-genuine-firewalkers-3427 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHERE CAN YOU SEE GENUINE FIREWALKERS?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 19:14</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Think you know Bulgaria and the Bulgarians? Take our test to doublecheck</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/nestinari.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/nestinari.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="nestinari" title="nestinari" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Nestinari</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong>1. Where can you see genuine firewalkers?</strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>In the Strandzha</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Sofia</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Sunny Beach</p> <p><strong>2. Where is Devetashka Cave?</strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> In the Rhodope</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Northern Bulgaria</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> On the Black Sea</p> <p><strong>3. Which Bulgarian mountain is also called The Balkan?</strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> The Rila</p> <p><strong>B. </strong>The Pirin</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> The Stara Planina</p> <p><strong>4. Bulgarians traditionally call which country "Big Brother"?</strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>The United States</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> China</p> <p><strong>C. </strong>Russia</p> <p><strong>5. Bulgaria's second largest city is...</strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> Plovdiv</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Pleven</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Petrich</p> <p><strong>6. Which animal used to live in what is now Bulgaria?</strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>Lion</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Tiger</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Jaguar</p> <p><strong>7. Which of those is a staple of Bulgarian cuisine?</strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>Dates</p> <p><strong>B. </strong>Maize</p> <p><strong>C. </strong>Yoghurt</p> <p><strong>8. Which European route goes through Bulgaria?</strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>E35</p> <p><strong>B. </strong>E85</p> <p><strong>C. </strong>E95</p> <p><strong>9. The largest sector in Bulgarian economy is...</strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>Agriculture</p> <p><strong>B. </strong>Industry</p> <p><strong>C. </strong>Services</p> <p> </p> <p><em>The correct answers:</em></p> <p><strong>1. </strong>- A; <strong>2.</strong> - B; <strong>3.</strong> - C; <strong>4.</strong> - C; <strong>5.</strong> - A; <strong>6.</strong> - A; <strong>7.</strong> - C; <strong>8. </strong>- B; <strong>9.</strong> - C.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/bulgaria-s-monthly-quiz" hreflang="en">BULGARIA&#039;S MONTHLY QUIZ</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3427&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="rbBHqVfY6yy57CylhJLm91ODXFVoIgUc8ihzb7ADbk8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 16:14:41 +0000 DimanaT 3427 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/where-can-you-see-genuine-firewalkers-3427#comments THRACIAN BULGARIA https://vagabond.bg/thracian-bulgaria-3426 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THRACIAN BULGARIA</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 19:00</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Discover an ancient people, their shrines, tombs and treasures</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/aleksandrovo%20tomb.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/aleksandrovo%20tomb.jpg" width="999" height="667" alt="Sacred hunt, a mural at Aleksandrovo Tomb" title="Sacred hunt, a mural at Aleksandrovo Tomb" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Sacred hunt, a mural at Aleksandrovo Tomb</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>There are places in the world where you can get to know long-vanished nations and their former glory: Egypt, China, Greece... Bulgaria also makes it on this list. Long before this country appeared on Europe's map, an ancient nation inhabited its lands, and left behind rich remains – tombs and burial mounds, rock shrines and forts, fortifications and mysterious rock niches.</p> <p>These people were the ancient Thracians.</p> <p>Together with the Slavs and the so-called Proto-Bulgarians, the Thracians are considered to be the forefathers of modern Bulgarians, whose nation emerged in the early Middle Ages. While the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians were recent arrivals in the Balkans, the Thracians had lived here for many centuries, and were not just some insignificant tribe. According to Herodotus, the Thracians were the second most numerous people of the ancient world after the Indians (he was wrong on that matter). They actively took part in the international politics of the day and were divided into several tribes, some of which created their own kingdoms and even minted their own coins – a sign of economic strength and political importance. They were eventually conquered by the Romans and many of them then adopted Roman or Greek lifestyles and habits. However, they largely preserved their culture until the arrival of Christianity. Eventually they became part of young Bulgaria.</p> <p><img alt="Perperikon rock city" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/perperikon%20rock%20city.jpg" title="Perperikon rock city" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Perperikon rock city</em></p> <p>Sadly, the Thracians were reluctant chroniclers and left almost no written sources. What we do know, or believe we know, about their history, beliefs and culture is derived from archaeological research and ancient Greek and Roman sources.</p> <p>The Thracians may have disappeared, but much has remained of their treasures: their coins, tombs and shrines, pottery, weapons and heroes – both mythical ones such as Orpheus and historical figures like Spartacus.</p> <p>Bulgaria is dotted with Thracian sites, and visiting the most interesting of these is a true delight.</p> <p>One of the most famous sites created by the Thracians is the rock city of Perperikon. Situated on a peak overlooking a river valley in the Rhodope, Perperikon was a rock settlement and a major Thracian shrine which flourished in Antiquity and attracted devotees from far and wide. There is no hard evidence, but some historians suggest that Perperikon was indeed the famed oracle of Dionysus, which predicted the glorious future of both Alexander of Macedon and of Augustus. Faith was the raison d'être for the rock city's existence but life there did not come to an end when the ancient gods gave way to Christianity. Perperikon became a major episcopal centre adorned with a basilica on the site of the erstwhile pagan shrine. It was abandoned during the Ottoman period.</p> <p><img alt="Begliktash megalithic shrine" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/thracian%20shrine%20begliktash.jpg" title="Begliktash megalithic shrine" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Begliktash megalithic shrine</em></p> <p>In recent years Perperikon was hailed by the Bulgarian media as a rival to Machu Picchu. This comparison may be a bit farfetched, but it definitely is a must-see.</p> <p>Perperikon is not the only site the Thracians carved from rock. Between the 2nd millennium and the middle of the 1st millennium BC, they were very much into creating megaliths. They built shrines on rocky peaks, carved niches and tombs at precipitous heights, and built dolmens and stone circles.</p> <p>These all represented the Thracian belief in the two powerful, yet nameless deities who had created and ruled over the universe: the Great Goddess and her son and lover, the Great God. She represented the dark powers of the underworld and was symbolised by rock caves and crevices, while he made himself visible in light, fire and prominent rock formations.</p> <p><img alt="Belintash megalithic shrine" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/thracian%20shrine%20belintash.jpg" title="Belintash megalithic shrine" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Belintash megalithic shrine</em></p> <p>Belintash is one of the best known Thracians rock shrines. Located in the Rhodope, the high plateau that rises over a mountain valley is surrounded by a protective wall of neighbouring peaks. Stone carvings, channels and basins are cut into the rock surface. When the sanctuary was active, they may have been filled with wine and the blood of sacrificial animals – or maybe were used for making sacred wine. The inner sanctum of the shrine, the "holy of holies," was at the narrow tip of the plateau, which rises above the rest of the area, proclaiming its importance.</p> <p>The rock sanctuary at Tatul, also in the Rhodope, is now advertised as the burial place of none lesser than Orpheus. Yes, we know that the famous musician, who was able to enchant animals and melt the stone-cold heart of the lord of the Underworld, was a mythological figure. But some Bulgarian historians believe that mythical Orpheus was based on an actual Thracian man, who did something of immense importance – he reformed the Thracian religion by introducing into it the figure of the enlightened god, Apollo. Supposedly, this real-life Orpheus was buried in a spectacular tomb carved into a prominent rock at Tatul.</p> <p><img alt="Bivolyane megalithic shrine" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/thracian%20shrine%20bivolyane.jpg" title="Bivolyane megalithic shrine" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Bivolyane megalithic shrine</em></p> <p>Located deep in the Strandzha forest, Begliktash is another popular Thracian megalithic shrine. In Antiquity the massive boulders that now stand in a clearing in the dense oak forest were a centre of religious activity. Some boulders have even been connected to particular ancient Thracian rituals (as we lack any detailed information about the Thracian religion, what follows is conjecture). At Begliktash, you will see rocks identified as a "sun dial", a labyrinth, and a sacred bed where the Thracian priest and/or king was supposed to perform a ritual sexual act with the shrine's priestess. One huge structure is believed to be the largest dolmen in Bulgaria and a royal tomb, while a great heart-shaped boulder is said to touch the ground at only two points.</p> <p>There are lesser known Thracian rock shrines that also deserve attention, such as that on a rocky plateau near the Rhodope village of Bivolyane. The most peculiar feature of Harman Kaya sanctuary are two round pads covered with what appear to be channels and circles. No one knows what exactly they were, but the hypothesis that they were used to measure time is quite popular.</p> <p><img alt="Asara megalithic shrine" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/thracian%20rock%20shrine%20asara.jpg" title="Asara megalithic shrine" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Asara megalithic shrine</em></p> <p>Asara, near the village of Angel Voyvoda in the Haskovo region, is believed to be not just an ancient rock shrine and a fort, but also an astronomical observatory. Perched on a 600-metre high hill, the site includes several oddly shaped rocks, and on top of the highest there are two graves. For history buffs, of whom there are many in Bulgaria, these graves and the rock-hewn steps leading to them are the first stone calendar in the world, whatever that might mean. For more conservative archaeologists, they are the steps to an altar.</p> <p>The ancient Thracians also created hundreds of dolmens. Today, these structures are mostly to be found in the Strandzha and Sakar mountains. Most are small and often in places far removed from the tourist trail. One, however, stands out. The dolmen near the village of Hlyabovo, near Haskovo, is a huge affair. This family burial ground has three adjoining chambers where artefacts were found that indicate it was in use for five centuries.</p> <p><img alt="The dolmen at Hlyabovo is among the largest and best preserved" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/dolmen%20bulgaria.jpg" title="The dolmen at Hlyabovo is among the largest and best preserved" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The dolmen at Hlyabovo is among the largest and best preserved</em></p> <p>Two stone circles built by the Thracians still survive, sort of. The most spectacular of the two is near Dolni Glavanak village, in the Rhodope. Situated on a low ridge overgrown with thick oak forest, the stone circle consists of 15 rocks about 1.5m high, with a diameter of about 10m. The other was discovered under a tumulus near the Staro Zhelezare village, in the Plovdiv region. Sadly, after archaeologists left the site the elements took their toll and now the mysterious structure, which is millennia old, has almost disappeared.</p> <p>Rock niches are an enigmatic practice indulged in by the Thracians in the Eastern Rhodope. Less than a metre high, the niches are usually trapezoid, but are present in a variety of other shapes: circular, rectangular, square. Most of them are hewn at precipitous heights.</p> <p><img alt="A Thracian burial mound, in the Valley of Thracian Kings, ravaged by treasure hunters" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/thracian%20burial%20mound.jpg" title="A Thracian burial mound, in the Valley of Thracian Kings, ravaged by treasure hunters" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A Thracian burial mound, in the Valley of Thracian Kings, ravaged by treasure hunters</em></p> <p>More than 200 groups of niches have been discovered so far, with the greatest concentration at Gluhite Kamani, Madzharovo and Valche Pole. Of course a dearth of information only opens the door of the imagination. Some scientists believe that the rock niches were made to house the burial urns of cremated Thracians who could not afford the more expensive and prestigious rock tombs. However, the bottoms of some of the niches are angled upwards, making it impossible to put anything inside them. Others claim that the niches were hewn by adolescent Thracian boys as part of an initiation ceremony. According to a third hypothesis, the niches depict the stars and the constellations in the heavens, while a fourth proposes that they were a sort of map, indicating the whereabouts of ancient gold mines. According to yet another idea, the niches are scaled-down models of dolmens and rock tombs or, more interestingly, of the cave that symbolises the womb of the Great Goddess.</p> <p>By the middle of the 1st millennium BC, the Thracians had stopped creating megaliths. No one knows why. What is certain is that they started building monumental tombs for their elite instead. These were hidden under massive mounds of earth, which still dot almost every corner of the Bulgarian lands.</p> <p><img alt="Rock niches by Dolno Cherkovishte" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/rock%20nisches%20rhodope.jpg" title="Rock niches by Dolno Cherkovishte" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Rock niches by Dolno Cherkovishte</em></p> <p>The largest concentration of Thracian burial mounds is in the so-called Valley of Thracian Kings, located between the Stara Planina and the Sredna Gora mountain ranges. Here, you can find arguably the most emblematic tomb the Thracians ever created.</p> <p>The Thracian tomb at Kazanlak has captured the public imagination since its chance discovery in 1944. Many historians have surveyed it, and UNESCO added it to its list of world heritage sites, in 1979. Plundered in Antiquity, the tomb nevertheless preserves skilfully painted murals of a couple surrounded by their servants. The gentleness with which the man holds the lady's white hand is still touching, 2,400 years after the paint was applied, but what the scene represents remains a mystery. Is it a farewell feast for him, the dead, and her, the living? Is it a depiction of the Thracian custom of killing the widow and burying her with her husband? Is it how the Thracians imagined the eternal bliss of the afterlife? Perhaps it is all about the sacred marriage between the deified deceased and the Great Goddess of the underworld. The style and skill of the painting indicate that the artist may have been a Greek hired by the owner of the tomb, evidence of the active contacts between the Greeks and the Thracians at the time.</p> <p><img alt="The Kazanlak Tomb is UNESCO listed because of its fine murals" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/kazanlak%20tomb.jpg" title="The Kazanlak Tomb is UNESCO listed because of its fine murals" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The Kazanlak Tomb is UNESCO listed because of its fine murals</em></p> <p>The tomb hidden in the Golyama Kosmatka mound was not plundered, and its architecture is truly impressive. The structure has a 13-metre long corridor and two antechambers, the second of which is round, with a cupola, and is protected by a marble door. The rectangular burial chamber was hewn into a 60-tonne monolith and contained more than 70 items: a wealth of expensive weapons and precious objects, including a beautiful gold wreath.</p> <p>The most astonishing find from Golyama Kosmatka, however, was discovered buried in the mound, not in the tomb itself. It was a beautiful bronze head of a man with an unruly beard and strong features. The head was probably an effigy of the deceased that was cut off from an actual, life-size statue.</p> <p>For the Thracians, big game hunting was sacred. An activity reserved for aristocrats, it was a symbol of royal power. Every year whoever was king would go on a sacred boar hunt to demonstrate that he was still strong enough to bear the crown. In the afterlife, the Thracians believed, there would also be hunting, and so the hunt became a major theme in Thracian art. The Aleksandrovo Tomb is one of the finest examples, with its chamber paintings of men – on foot and on horseback – chasing deer and boar. The antechamber is also decorated with mysterious depictions of battles, or what might be dances between riders and naked young men.</p> <p><img alt="The stone circle at Staro Zhelezhare is now almost lost to the elements due to neglect" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/stone%20circle.jpg" title="The stone circle at Staro Zhelezhare is now almost lost to the elements due to neglect" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The stone circle at Staro Zhelezhare is now almost lost to the elements due to neglect</em></p> <p>The vivid figures of the Aleksandrovo Tomb murals are probably the work of a Thracian artist, and the painstakingly depicted details of weapons, harnesses and clothing are an important source not only of the beliefs of the ancient Thracians, but also of their everyday life.</p> <p>Most of the impressive Thracian tombs and sites are located in southern Bulgaria, but there are some exceptions. North of the Stara Planina, the Sboryanovo nature and history reserve near Isperih is one of the best places for Thracian tourism in Bulgaria. Here are the remains of Helis, a Thracian stronghold and trading centre from the 4th-3th centuries, and several shrines and tumuli.</p> <p>One of the burial mounds preserves an astounding monument of Thracian art, the first and so far the only example of Thracian sculpture. The stone burial beds of a deceased Thracian aristocrat and his wife lie in the chamber, watched over by a row of 10 caryatids with wide-open eyes and long arms. These rather crude figures were probably Thracian rather than Greek made. The mural above them, however, is a lot more intricate. The deceased, on horseback, is receiving the wreath of immortality from a tall, regal woman, the Great Goddess of the Thracians. Excavated in 1982, the tomb is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.</p> <p><img alt="The outstanding decoration of Sveshtari Tomb is why this Thracian monument was declared an UNESCO site" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/sveshtari%20tomb.jpg" title="The outstanding decoration of Sveshtari Tomb is why this Thracian monument was declared an UNESCO site" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The outstanding decoration of Sveshtari Tomb is why this Thracian monument was declared an UNESCO site</em></p> <p>Thracian treasures are another hallmark of this ancient culture. The Thracian kings and noblemen drank wine from cups of gold and silver, and priests used elaborately decorated vessels in religious rituals. Gold was considered a divine metal, and many noblemen went into the afterlife with gold wreaths on their heads, gold masks on their faces, and a multitude of gold jewellery and wine cups, along with richly decorated helmets and greaves. Some of these were made by Thracians master craftsmen, others were commissioned from the best Greek artisans, living far from Thrace.</p> <p>Visiting two museums in Sofia is the easiest way to see these marvels of the ancient craft. In the treasure room of the National Archaeological Museum lies one of the most fascinating finds Bulgaria has ever produced. The Valchitran Treasure is a collection of 13 gold vessels weighing 12.5 kg, made in the 2nd millennium BC, about the time of the Trojan War. The National History Museum is home to the exquisite gold drinking vessels from Panagyurishte and the delicate harness decorations from Letnitsa, with scenes from Thracian cosmological myths.</p> <p><img alt="A gold mask, supposedly of Thracian king Teres, was discovered in an otherwise unremarkable grave in 2001, in the Valley of Thracian Kings" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/thracian%20bulgaria/thracian%20gold%20mask.jpg" title="A gold mask, supposedly of Thracian king Teres, was discovered in an otherwise unremarkable grave in 2001, in the Valley of Thracian Kings" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A gold mask, supposedly of Thracian king Teres, was discovered in an otherwise unremarkable grave in 2001, in the Valley of Thracian Kings</em></p> <p>Regional museums are worth visiting, too. The Vratsa Historical Museum exhibits the amazing Rogozen Treasure, the largest ever found in Bulgaria, and the museum of Kazanlak also has a fine collection of treasures excavated from nearby tombs.</p> <p>The Thracians left a trace in Bulgarian folklore and Christianity. The legendary folk hero, Krali Marko, who rides a magical horse, is probably a late Mediaeval reincarnation of the Thracian God Rider. The fairies who, in Bulgarian folklore, rule over nature and vegetation are probably faded memories of the Thracian Great Goddess. Even some saints have been influenced by the ancient Thracians. St Trifon Zarezan, for example, who is the patron of wine and viticulture, is the Christianised heir of Dionysus himself. The famous nestinari dances on live embers, which can be seen only in the Strandzha and are on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list, are also a relic of Thracian times. They are the Christianised version of ancient rites and rituals dedicated to the Great God and the Great Goddess.</p> <p>All of these make Bulgaria, with its rich and vibrant Thracian past, a must to explore. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/224" hreflang="en">Thracian heritage</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/225" hreflang="en">Thracian shrines</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/258" hreflang="en">Thracian treasures</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/259" hreflang="en">Thracian tombs</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3426&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="jdIO5sEsWwcw_y6BXv7XHttn0h7AMfMUD9vlAFpHsMI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 16:00:09 +0000 DimanaT 3426 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/thracian-bulgaria-3426#comments WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU? https://vagabond.bg/where-bulgaria-are-you-3425 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Stamen Manolov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 18:57</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>As you travel through Bulgaria you will oftentimes take in unusual sights: airplanes permanently grounded in locations that have no airport for miles around</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/where%20in%20bulgaria.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/where%20in%20bulgaria.jpg" width="1000" height="666" alt="where in bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© Anthony Georgieff</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Sometimes they are "parked" in the middle of villages, in one or two instances inside Communist-era housing projects, often they will be the first to greet you as you drive into some Bulgarian town. Aircraft aficionados will be thrilled particularly as the whole history of Warsaw Pact air force and civilian hardware will be in front of them to explore. </p> <p>One of the more spectacular collections of grounded airplanes is by a small Bulgarian town whose chief claim to fame is that one of the two Bulgarian astronauts, in the 1970s-1980s, was in fact born there. </p> <p>Where in Bulgaria are you? </p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/where-in-bulgaria" hreflang="en">WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3425&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="cNRO5OnM4xUCpTxlF97Bl6Csb5uiO8jOy1SCex5vUfQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 15:57:37 +0000 DimanaT 3425 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/where-bulgaria-are-you-3425#comments THE MYSTIC POWER OF ZLATOLIST https://vagabond.bg/mystic-power-zlatolist-3424 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE MYSTIC POWER OF ZLATOLIST</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 18:49</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Tiny village in southwest attracts pilgrims who believe in Most Blessed Stoyna, a woman who supposedly healed through faith</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/st%20chistopher%20zlatolst.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/st%20chistopher%20zlatolst.jpg" width="1000" height="671" alt="st chistopher zlatolist" title="st chistopher zlatolist" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Born in 1883 near Serres, which was then in the Ottoman Empire and today is in Greece, Stoyna Dimitrova was seven years old when she experienced something extraordinary. While she was ill with smallpox, a strange storm engulfed her home and tried to push the door open. Her parents attempted to keep out the elements, but Stoyna told them not to – the storm was actually St George, who wanted to enter the house. Her parents complied and a strange light filled the room. When it all ended, Stoyna had become blind.</p> <p>Several years passed before the next strange event. When Stoyna was 13, St George appeared in her dreams and instructed her to dig in the garden. She obeyed and – lo and behold – an icon of the saint and a sanctuary lamp were discovered on the spot. Stoyna built a small chapel there, but she was unable to take care of it for long, as larger events unfolded in her life.</p> <p><img alt="A pilgrim writes her wishes in a special notebook by the cell of Most Blessed Stoyna" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/mystic%20power%20of%20zlatolist/pilgrim%20prayer.jpg" title="A pilgrim writes her wishes in a special notebook by the cell of Most Blessed Stoyna" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A pilgrim writes her wishes in a special notebook by the cell of Most Blessed Stoyna</em></p> <p>In 1913, after Bulgaria was defeated in the Second Balkan War the region of Macedonia, where Serres was located, was lost. Stoyna's family, along with many Bulgarians from the area, left en masse what had now become Greek territory. The refugees headed towards Petrich, but Stoyna never reached that town. While her family was passing through Zlatolist, she demanded to stay in the village, in the church of St George.</p> <p>Her request was highly unusual, and both her father and the local community hesitated before deciding to allow her to have her way. Stoyna settled down inside the church, and spent the rest of her life there, sleeping in a tiny room on the balcony where women would listen to mass.</p> <p>According to the accounts of her relatives and the villagers of Zlatolist, written down years and sometimes decades after her death, everything Stoyna did while living in the church of St George was extraordinary.</p> <p><img alt="A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/mystic%20power%20of%20zlatolist/death%20pale%20horse.jpg" title="A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church</em></p> <p>She led a celibate, ascetic life, offering spiritual help and healing to anyone who sought her out, and she often communicated with St George and other saints. If anyone tried to harm her, a seemingly defenceless woman, they would be punished by divine force. Advancing Turkish and Greek soldiers were repelled by St George himself, and evil men were punished by the death of their closest kin.</p> <p>Stoyna took care of herself, the church and the garden, and provided schooling to young girls from the village. She ate little, mostly bread and citrus fruit, and gave all the money and sweets that grateful visitors brought her to the children. She instructed the adults too, teaching them Christian stories and values, and would listen to their confessions.</p> <p>Her most amazing ability was her supposed habit of staying for days in a death-like trance, after which she would predict future events, and levitate in the church while praying to St George.</p> <p><img alt="A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/mystic%20power%20of%20zlatolist/sinner%20breasts.jpg" title="A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church" /></p> <p>That was why the locals started calling her Prepodobna, or Most Blessed, Stoyna. Some even referred to her as a "saint."</p> <p>After Prepodobna Stoyna died, she was buried in the churchyard. People continued to visit and pray for health and guidance.</p> <p>As Communism took over in Bulgaria, Prepodobna Stoyna remained a local phenomenon. Vanga, a blind clairvoyant who lived on the other side of the mountain, was quick to outshine her. Stoyna slipped into oblivion.</p> <p>Stoyna was rediscovered after the regime collapsed in 1989 and the economic crisis that followed sparked interest in all things spiritual, religious and mystical. By the early 2000s, Zlatolist was already on Bulgaria's pilgrimage map, though it is still less known and visited than Rupite, the area near Petrich where Vanga spent her final years. In the warmer months you will see plenty of people driving along the dusty dirt roads from Katuntsi village or Rozhen Monastery towards Zlatolist.</p> <p><img alt="A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/mystic%20power%20of%20zlatolist/triumph%20of%20devil.jpg" title="A 19th century teenager reportedly painted the very un-Orthodox murals in St George's Church" /></p> <p>Prepodobna Stoyna's abode is actually far more atmospheric than the manicured, touristy Rupite.</p> <p>Built in 1857 and recently renovated, St George's church appears humble and bland from the outside. Inside everything changes – there you realise that you have entered a strange, mystical place.</p> <p>The church is sunk into the ground. Even when packed with people, there is a hushed silence there. Visitors usually make a beeline for a marble slab on the floor in front of the altar. The double-headed eagle carved there is a standard depiction of the emblem of the Constantinople Patriarchate, which had jurisdiction over St George's at the time of its construction, and is hardly unique. Still, Bulgarians believe that this particular slab is special, and that Prepodobna Stoyna used to pray and levitate over it. It is believed that prayers said there are particularly powerful – you just have to take off your shoes before stepping onto the sacred stone.</p> <p>While waiting for your turn, you will inevitably notice how unusual the murals in St George's are: crude, almost grotesque. The massive, dominant figure of a dog-headed St Christopher is particularly impressive. It is not unique in ecclesiastical art in the region, but people believe that it might hold some special, ominous meaning.</p> <p>There is more to see in this church. Follow the crowds to the back of the church, take off your shoes again and climb the rickety wooden stairs that lead to the women's balcony. On your way you will pass more strange murals: Death on its pale horse, brandishing a crossbow, and a bosomy Mary Magdalene naked to the waist. The artist of St George's in 1876 was supposedly a teenage boy, and these murals give credence to this theory.</p> <p><img alt="St George Zlatolist" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/mystic%20power%20of%20zlatolist/st%20george%20zlatolist.jpg" title="St George Zlatolist" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Prepodobna Stoyna lived on the church balcony, today the space has become a shrine to her</em></p> <p>The balcony itself is packed with portraits of Prepodobna Stoyna, all recreating with varying degrees of skill her only known photograph: a pale, ascetic face with closed eyes under a black kerchief. All around are presents left by grateful or hopeful pilgrims: linens and towels, artificial flowers, all types of icons imaginable and children's clothes. Two notebooks are provided for them to write down their requests in the hope that Most Blessed Stoyna will ensure deliverance. A knot of people is usually gathered in one corner, impatient to have a look at the prophetess's cell.</p> <p>This room is small and claustrophobic, and stuffed with more portraits and icons.</p> <p>The atmosphere outside St George's is definitely lighter. Visitors walk around the tiny garden, drink water from a supposedly healing spring, pray at Most Blessed Stoyna's grave, and wait for their turn to hug or have their photo taken with the 1,200-year old plane tree.</p> <p>Once they leave the church compound, the pilgrims and visitors engage in activities which Bulgarians always connect with visiting a monastery or some other religious site: the indulgence in more earthly pleasures. Zlatolist is tiny, more of a hamlet than a village, and most of the inhabitants seem to be up at the church, selling fruit and homemade jams, pickles, wine and rakiya to tourists and pilgrims. A couple of makeshift taverns serve some of the most delicious grilled meat in this corner of Bulgaria.</p> <p><img alt="The original tombstone of Most Blessed Stoyna's grave is on display in the church" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/mystic%20power%20of%20zlatolist/prepodovba%20stoyna%20tombstone.jpg" title="The original tombstone of Most Blessed Stoyna's grave is on display in the church" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The original tombstone of Most Blessed Stoyna's grave is on display in the church</em></p> <p>Who was Prepodobna Stoyna in reality and what happened to her?</p> <p>The lack of documentation and contemporary accounts means that there will never be a definitive answer, but her story is strikingly similar to that of Vanga. Both were suddenly blinded in strange circumstances at an early age. Both had to migrate to Bulgaria proper, and both had visions of saints. They were pious women and dedicated Christians, but are these parallels real or the result of a myth-making process?</p> <p>What is certain is that the Eastern Orthodox Church treats them similarly. On the one hand, both clairvoyants are and were tolerated by the Church authorities. On the other hand, both have been criticised by clerics and theologians – Vanga is suspected of demonic possession while Stoyna is condemned for behaving like an ordained priest and hearing confessions.</p> <p>Those who flock to Zlatolist, whether out of despair or curiosity, are probably not much interested in theology, and what they crave is the feeling of otherworldliness and mysticism. At St George's, there is plenty of both. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/239" hreflang="en">Esoteric Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3424&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="5x2EZVs2DGq_Xtw9ocJHWgjM5hP-RhC8YzMh37WW16U"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 15:49:37 +0000 DimanaT 3424 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/mystic-power-zlatolist-3424#comments IRON BARS, NO IRON BARS https://vagabond.bg/iron-bars-no-iron-bars-3423 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">IRON BARS, NO IRON BARS</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Stamen Manolov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 17:21</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgarian MPs went to work into the building of parliament one fine day in May to discover the inside of its gates had been equipped with iron bars, apparently for extra protection</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/bulgarian%20parliament%20doors.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/bulgarian%20parliament%20doors.jpg" width="1000" height="627" alt="bulgarian parliament doors" title="bulgarian parliament doors" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Lovers of freedom were quick to cry fowl. Is this what the supposedly liberal, pro-Western Changes Continued government is doing? Protecting itself from the love of the general public with iron bars? Not even in the darkest days of Boyko Borisov's GERB had we seen anything like that, they intoned to their agony aunt, Facebook.</p> <p>GERB were happy to join in. "We had been warning for two years that whoever sowed gallows and coffins, and threw rotten fish at legally elected MPs would reap a barricaded parliament," Tsveta Karayancheva (the one Boyko Borisov referred to as a "stupid c*nt from Kardzhali") surmised.</p> <p>It soon emerged that the novel equipment had been set up on the insistence of the National Protection Service, the agency that is supposed to take care of security for Bulgaria's top officials. The request had been filed following an attempt by the extremist Revival political party, led by Kostadin Kostadinov, to storm into the parliament building earlier this year.</p> <p><img alt="bulgarian mp behind bars" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/joke%20of%20the%20month/bulgarian%20parliament.jpg" title="bulgarian mp behind bars" /></p> <p>In Bulgaria's short history of post-Communist parliamentary democracy there have in fact been a number of attempts by various groups to storm into the building. Usually MPs have barricaded themselves on the inside by using pieces of furniture such as writing desks and armchairs.</p> <p>The denouement to the iron bars episode came a few hours after it started. Bulgaria's young Culture Minister Atanas "Just Nasko" Atanasov of Changes Continued ordered a probe by the Protection of Cultural Heritage Inspectorate. Apparently, whoever installed the iron bars had failed to comply with a legal requirement not to amend any listed building, especially if it is of national significance, such as the Bulgarian parliament (erected in the 1880s).</p> <p>Violating the requirement would incur a fine of 5,000-10,000 leva, the Culture Ministry inspectors asserted, and ordered the bars to be instantly removed, to the cheers of lovers of democracy. In the span of a few hours, when the bars were in place, some MPs – like Lyuben Dilov Jr – managed to take selfies of themselves literally... behind bars. </p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/joke-of-the-month" hreflang="en">JOKE OF THE MONTH</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3423&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="__0F3lqHfmFp_NAY_rgy3EJqnCz5eh3yU26WJn7gpHs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 14:21:29 +0000 DimanaT 3423 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/iron-bars-no-iron-bars-3423#comments LOOKING AT BURGAS, DARKLY https://vagabond.bg/looking-burgas-darkly-3422 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">LOOKING AT BURGAS, DARKLY</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Anthony Georgieff; photography by Galina Usheva</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 05/28/2022 - 17:18</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Photographer takes in heritage of Black Sea city, and finds... freedom</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2022-05/old%20burgas.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2022-05/old%20burgas.jpg" width="1000" height="750" alt="old burgas" title="old burgas" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Despite some researchers' claims that Bulgaria's largest city on the southern Black Sea coast is ancient (related in some way to... Troy), most would agree that Burgas is quite new.</p> <p>The first poverty-driven settlers came here at the end of the 19th century, only to find themselves in a swampy, malaria-infested area fit for little save fishing. Burgas began as a maze of squalid streets, randomly built harbour warehouses and tumbledown buildings. It took 13 years to approve the first town plan with its 289 small neighbourhoods and seven parks.</p> <p>Burgas did develop, however – faster than most other Bulgarian cities, including the then new capital Sofia.</p> <p>This happened largely thanks to the determination and zeal of its vibrant and at times extremely multicultural community. Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, Russians, Armenians, Jews, Wallachians and many others used to live side by side in a truly cosmopolitan city. They were driven by capitalism, industrialisation and their desire to make money – a little Brooklyn unseen anywhere in the Balkans at the time except Salonika.</p> <p>Looking at The City of Burgas Jubilee Book 1878-1928, it emerges that the city was top notch at the time. Its harbour was large, and its traffic accounted for a third of the Bulgarian Kingdom's foreign trade. At least a dozen dailies were published in Burgas, and there were Belgian, British, Dutch, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish consulates.</p> <p><img alt="old burgas" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/looking%20at%20burgas%20darkly/old%20burgas%203.jpg" title="old burgas" /></p> <p>A court report from the 1920s provides evidence of the port city's cosmopolitanism. "In a case brought before the Burgas District Court, the accused, a Russian, was represented by Bulgarian, Armenian, and Greek solicitors. The plaintiff was Russian, and the prosecutor was Czech, a Mr Mracek. The Bulgarian pleaded in his tongue, the Armenian used Turkish, and the Greek spoke in Greek. The wronged Russian gentleman spoke in Russian, while the prosecutor, who spoke none of these languages at the beginning of his appointment, elected to plead in French. Fluent in all five tongues concerned, Judge Petar Uvaliev responded to each party in the tongue of their choice.”</p> <p>The outcome of this case has been lost in the mists of time, yet it illustrates that Burgas was probably Bulgaria's most dynamic city at the time. A great many of its citizens were fluent in French due to the forceful marketing of the Pension Française, and the city displayed all signs of having adopted Mediterranean culture as its own. The surrounding lakes echoed to the growth of industry such as the Italian South would not see for at least five more decades, and commerce boomed.</p> <p>When the Communists came to power on 9 September 1944, Burgas was a flourishing European town. That is when things rapidly took another turn. Seized by an envy born of deprivation, the new rulers set about with megalomaniacal fanaticism, turning Burgas into a "showpiece Socialist community." Translated into everyday language, this meant declaring war on heritage, ringing the city with a forest of multi-storey pre-fab projects, and developing heavy industry that spread environmental malaise around the entire bay.</p> <p>Multiculturalism slowly came to an end. Most of the Jews emigrated to Israel, most of the Turks went to Turkey, most of the Greeks had already resettled in Greece.</p> <p><img alt="old burgas" class="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" id="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/188/looking%20at%20burgas%20darkly/old%20burgas%202.jpg" title="old burgas" /></p> <p>The madness reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, when a Communist mayor destroyed the historic Town Hall with... an army tank. Fearing intervention from the National Institute of Cultural Monuments in Sofia, he ordered the tank to demolish the magnificent fin-de-siècle edifice under cover of darkness... A similar fate befell Burgas' covered wholesale market, and a large part of the city centre gave way to a high-rise hotel. Several streets around the Maritime Gardens were also destroyed to make room for a thoroughfare.</p> <p>What little remains of Burgas's erstwhile heritage and atmosphere has been the subject of a local photographer, Galina Usheva. Usheva has roamed meticulously the streets of Burgas, using her camera to document and breathe new life into the ghosts of old Italianate buildings, many of which have been left in various stages of dilapidation. There are many and diverse reasons for this. One of them is neglect, ignorance and sheer stupidity. Another is the many heirs to the erstwhile owners never being able to agree what to do with the property of their ancestors. Yet another involves the old trick to wait until a listed building collapses and then erect a flashy multi-storey estate on the plot...</p> <p>Galina Usheva, who is first and foremost an artist rather than an urban planning critic, takes no stand regarding the reasons. Instead, she is fascinated by the charm of the times gone by, amplified by the disarray of construction packaging – some of which in a state of dilapidation comparable to that of the buildings it is supposed to conceal. By exploring the interplays of light, the bizarre shapes and the gentle chiaroscuri, Usheva asserts, she has found her own freedom as an artist.</p> <p>The Finding Freedom exhibition by Galina Usheva was originally on display in her native Burgas. However, it holds meanings that are relevant to the whole of post-Communist Bulgaria's urban heritage. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /><p><a href="https://us4bg.org/?hl=en" title="AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION" target="_blank"><img alt="us4bg-logo-reversal.png" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/banners/AFB_LOGO.jpg" width="30%" class="align-left" /></a><strong>Vibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners</strong></p><hr class="uk-divider-icon" /></div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-188" hreflang="en">Issue 188</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/254" hreflang="en">The Black Sea</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/302" hreflang="en">20th century Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/vibrant-communities" hreflang="en">VIBRANT COMMUNITIES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3422&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="TqJ8wPEbYJmPllpMk2sBA2RnJQYieB9mP1izZzROOJI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 28 May 2022 14:18:58 +0000 DimanaT 3422 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/looking-burgas-darkly-3422#comments