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The Balkan Beauty

November 28, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Bulgaria is incredibly diverse with high Balkan Mountains and golden sand beaches of the Black Sea that are steeped in glorious history. The south-eastern European nation occupies eastern part of the beautiful Balkan Peninsula.

It borders with Romania in the north via the Danube River and touches the Black sea. Shares borders with Turkey and Greece in the south and Macedonia, Serbia and Monte Negro in the west. The 15th largest country in Europe has rendered the greatest contribution through its indigenous Cyrillic alphabet that is the basis for official languages in many countries in Eurasia.  Cyrillic alphabet script writing system was developed some time in the 9th century in Bulgaria. With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on  2007, Cyrillic has became the third official script of the European Patriarch church, Tsarevets, Veliko TarnovoUnion, following the Latin and Greek scripts.

Veliko Turnovo

Climb to the Tsarevets fortress in Veliko Tarnovo is majestic. The stronghold structure located at the peak of a hill by the same name was the medieval capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom and a significant monument of culture. Ruins of a palace and the church of St. Petka along with some historic residences, water reservoirs and battle towers are magnificent enough as a reminiscent glory of the bygone kingdom. History is made interesting through the sound and laser light show. Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. Its history dates back to more than five thousand years ago. The town was the capital of Bulgarian state from 12th to 14 t century. The fortress was besieged and burnt down by Ottoman forces during the end of 14 century.

Holy Forty Martyrs Church at the foot of the fort is considered as a monument of culture. This church is composed of two parts the oblong basilica with six columns and the other an annex added later to the western side of the building.

Tsarevets fortress, Veliko TurnovoYantra River surrounds the hill in this beautiful old city in northern Bulgaria. The river has its source from the northern foot of Hadzhi Dimitar Peak in Central Stara Planina.  Stara Planina, (Old Mountain) at 1,340 meters is a scenic mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula.

Stara Planina is a picturesque mountain sheltering historic sites and natural landmarks.

We had earlier arrived at Bulgaria’s capital Sofia and were amazed at the city’s well laid out road network amidst its natural and historic bounty. Communist occupation for 44 years till 1990 here had ensured restricted development, thus retaining much of its original beauty. Few big shopping malls and commercial complexes dotted along the aesthetic architecture in the city flag the foray into the current transition era of modern development. Some elder tourists said that it looks like United Kingdom of two generations ago.

Travelling 220 kilometers on wide highways devoid of heavy traffic from Sofia to reach Veliko Turnovo was a pleasant experience. Stopovers at petrol stations were refreshing with coffee and cakes from attached outlets.  Alongside the mountain road, it’s easy to spot a few rare birds and plenty of exotic Edelweiss. The beautiful mountain flower belongs to the sunflower family.

Country cuisine

We stopped at village Arbanassi, four kilometers before reaching Veliko Turnovo for lunch. The country cuisine was rich in dairy products of native A street lined with antique shops in Veliko Turnovobreeds. Snezhanka, thick cream yoghurt with chopped gherkins, walnuts and garlic was yummy. Bob Chorba, the traditional bean soup with plenty of herbs, Kebaptchata, spicy, grilled mince meat sausage and sweet pancakes were delicious. Organic ingredients used here also made the meal healthy rendering the energy needed to wander the mountains.  Set on a high plateau, Arbanassi has many historical monuments and Churches of 17th and 18th century.

The old part of Turnovo city bustled with craft shops run by master craftsmen. It’s ideal to pick-up authentic fabrics, bags, local spices, honey, antic items, art and other handmade souvenirs.

Soft and hard adventure options are available in the Balkans. Skiing and snowboarding in winter and horseback rides, hiking with a guide, conquering peaks and photo safari through the virgin forests during warmer days are some of the activities. Extreme adventure like bungee jumping and paragliding are possible too.  The Balkan Mountain divides the country in two. Its highest peak is Botev (2376 m) and the Eastern most point is Cape Emine, where it juts into the Black Sea. Cool summers and cold winters with a lot of snow are typical for the climate in this region of the mountain.

Written by : Anand & Madhura Katti

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