The people of Sofia love to point to a peculiarity of their city. Many of the most prominent sites and monuments in the Bulgarian capital are dedicated to or bear the names of Russians. The most obvious examples are the nation's principal cathedral, St Alexandr Nevskiy, and the horseback statue of Emperor Alexandr II in front of the parliament. The yellow-brick paved boulevard, which is one of the most prominent features of Sofia, is named after the same man, Tsar Osvoboditel, or King Liberator and, on its way to the Largo, it passes by the picturesque Russian Church.
Perched on an outcrop of rock above the Chaya River in the Rhodope, Bachkovo Monastery is a place packed with all the hallmarks of Bulgarian-ness. Its mediaeval ossuary preserves the only mural portrait of a Bulgarian king. The last patriarch before Bulgaria fell under the Ottomans, Evtimiy of Tarnovo, is believed to have been exiled and to have died there. The fortress-like complex is one of the finest architectural creations of the Bulgarian national revival period, and some of the frescoes are by Zahariy Zograf, the most prominent Bulgarian artist of the 19th Century.
"Prince Carol pointed the gun at his brother, Prince Nicholas. The Queen jumped at him. The gun went off and wounded her fatally," recounted Georgeta Caloianu, a lady-in-waiting.
The official biographers kept silent about this shocking incident which led to the death of Queen Marie of Romania several months later on 18 July 1938. Before she died, the fairhaired, blue-eyed darling of Europe's high society expressed the wish to be buried in her favourite palace at Balchik in Bulgaria.
Boyko Borisov rarely misses the opportunity to be televised kissing the hand of some Orthodox priest, so he went ahead with inaugurating the revamped Sofia Central Station, an operation that had taken years to complete and had cost about 62 million leva (about 31 million euros).
The quality of highways and other large-scale infrastructure projects built in modern Bulgaria with EU funding is a matter for public debate. Interestingly, one town in this country has been using the same bridge over the Maritsa River for the past five centuries. Until recently, it was still used even by trucks.
"Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is a pessimist, that is why he always loses all our election results bets."
Tsvetan Tsvetanov, deputy chief of GERB
Treasure hunting has been a popular activity among the people in the southeast of Bulgaria since time immemorial. However, apart from the destruction that it continues to bring, there are a few occasions where this illegal activity has led to extremely interesting discoveries. The Thracian tomb discovered near the Mezek village, in the region of modern Svilengrad, is one such story.
Even fluent Bulgarian speakers, including people who were actually born in this country, sometimes have a difficulty to understand what's really going on in the minds of their fellow citizens. Applying Western rational thought does not help since it is unable to dissect the thinking patterns of the Bulgarian society.