Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria

Stop #24

Sofia is one of the oldest inhabited locations in Europe.  It’s name comes from the Saint Sofia Church, which is not the large Eastern Orthodox church that everyone thinks of when they hear about Sofia.

Highlights:

  • St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world.  I was able to pay to take photos, so I spent some time thinking through each picture while Randy patiently waited for me.
  • Vitosha Boulevard, the main shopping street in the city.
  • The Ivan Vazov National Theatre, where we sat for coffee and relaxed near the fountains.
  • The Russian Church, Sofia, which strictly forbids indoor photography (the green and white church below).
  • The Central Sofia Market Hall.
  • The ancient Saint Sofia Church.  In the 14th century, the church gave its name to the city, previously known as Sredets.
  • The 4th century St. George Rotunda (the oldest building in Sofia).

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Stop #23

Plovdiv was, for me, the best part of Bulgaria.  It felt like the type of city that will grow to outpace the rest of the country.  And it had a Roman Amphitheater (which was undiscovered until a landslide in the 1970s) that kept me occupied for quite a while.

Highlights:

  • Walkable student city with great restaurants, galleries and bars
  • Competes with Sofia in things cultural and in nightlife.
  • Great walking city.
  • Lovely old town.
  • One of Bulgaria’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities and also Bulgaria’s second largest road and railway hub and economic center.
  • Roman amphitheater.
  • Roman stadium.
  • Roman forum.
  • Roman Odeon.

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

Stop #22

Link to Wikipedia

The oldest settlement in Kazanlak dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BCE). The Thracian city of Seuthopolis was uncovered near Kazanlak. In the 4th century BCE, near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis and close to the city, a magnificent Thracian tomb was built. It contains painted murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Stop #21

I wanted to visit Veliko Tarnovo because a colleague from Deloitte was born and raised in this city.  I did enjoy seeing some of the history that she described come alive.

Highlights:

  • Grand old city of the czars – Veliko Tarnovo was the capital in Medieval times.
  • Bulgarian czars lived in a palace that is now in ruins close to the Cathedral in Tsaravets Fortress.
  • Set amidst beautiful forested hills, especially colorful in October.
  • Citadel of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
  • Most prestigious university in the country.
  • Tsaravets Fortress one of Bulgaria’s most beloved monuments.
  • The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God  is a former Eastern Orthodox cathedral located on top of Tsarevets hill. The cathedral was the seat of the Bulgarian patriarch from its construction in the 11th–12th century to its destruction in 1393.

One of my favorite things about this visit was the unique modern style of paining in the Cathedral.

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