WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

Tue, 04/01/2008 - 15:35

You are in a remote region of Bulgaria, a few miles from the Turkish border, where Christianity and paganism blend into a bizarre mixture of faith and superstition.

where in bulgaria are you 19.jpg

Some believe Mediaeval knights came here in search of The Grail which was supposedly buried under an ominous rock, unleashing a spring of healing water. Others trust that early Christians came to drink from it a week after Jesus was crucified, thus explaining the legend about the blind ox that promptly regained its sight after sprinkling its eyes with water. Most probably the site is a former Thracian sanctuary, and believers from all over Bulgaria come here on the Sunday after Easter (4 May in 2008) to ritually slay lamb, light candles and hang old clothes on trees in the belief that in this way they will rid themselves of sickness and disease, and then imbibe rakiya.

OK, by now you've guessed you are in the Strandzha, and to make life easier for you we'll give you the topographical name of the ravine: “Yazmenski dol”. But everyone refers to it by another name, which literally means “Anti-Easter”.

Where in Bulgaria are you?

Issue 19

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where in bulgaria is this place
WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?
The Thracians were able craftsmen. The gold and silverware they produced was exquisite – and is now a priced treasure in Bulgarian museums. They were also great winemakers.

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The Thracians, the Romans, the Proto-Bulgars, the Venetians and the Ottomans were all here, and with them came Czechs, Hungarians, Germans, Armenians and Jews. All left their marks on the modern city.

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An UNESCO World Heritage site, this is the largest East Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.

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Abundant with small coves, some of them underwater, and sporting a jigsaw waterline the coast here is easily accessible, yet full of surprises.

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Built on a hill almost 180 degrees surrounded by a river meander its outlook constantly changes with the weather and the seasons. Bulgarian kids are bussed there on obligatory school tours.

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Most of these water reservoirs exist to this day, though some are reportedly in a bad state as they have not been maintained for years. The majority are unremarkable, but some are in fact quite serene – and many locals frequent for angling or camping.

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As a result of what some Bulgarians refer to as the "unbridled" construction of hotels, resorts and holiday homes – "entombing the Black Sea in concrete" – many of them have been destroyed.

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But owing to its topography it is one of the best places in Europe to explore bridges.

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Still, this country does boast a number of small isles one of which is even permanently inhabited.

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It was supposed to commemorate a series of 19th century battles between Russian and Ottoman forces that led to the restoration of Bulgaria's independence. As such, every Bulgarian school kid knows it as they are taken on obligatory bus tours of the area.

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During the centuries the natural fortification provided by the rocks was used for a military installation by whoever happened to be in power.