We, Bulgarians, usually identify ourselves as such with the "I am a Bulgarian Youth" poem by Ivan Vazov. Later on, unless you go on to become a member of a nationalist party, you don't feel any particular need to remind yourself of "I am a Bulgarian." Such a statement, despite its straightforwardness, could invoke a measure of uncertainty, like the invisible steps on the front cover of this book. It is not because you could be something else than a Bulgarian, but because the affirmation presupposes a previous agreement between yourself and your compatriots about what it is that makes you Bulgarian and what makes Bulgarians a community.
This is a difficult task that quickly entangles you in bookish definitions that will likely obfuscate rather than illuminate the issue of who you are.
Spectacular arrests of doctors fail to end in convictions, but divert public attention from much more important issues
If you don't understand or speak any Bulgarian, don't read on. However, if you intend to settle down in this country, or want to show your appreciation for Bulgarian culture or your loved one's in-laws, you are probably taking Bulgarian classes where you get taught how to say "excuse me" and "cheers," which you gladly will, to the bemusement of your Bulgarian chums.
The Valley of the Roses: until recently, the picturesque valley stretching between the ranges of the Stara Planina and the Sredna Gora mountains was known by this name, at it was the centre for the production of the expensive attar of roses.
"Idolaters! You are not true Eastern Orthodox Christians," the monk at St Spas monastery near Yambol scolded us while he was locking the gate of the supposedly miraculous cave spring his abode is famed for. Our sin? We had not lit candles when we entered the church. He, however, did not see any contradiction in the fact that the veneration of "healing" springs is a tradition that Eastern Orthodoxy in Bulgaria has inherited from paganism.
One of the best preserved Bulgarian National Revival Period towns has plenty of 19th century mansion-type houses, a couple of churches, many hotels and homestay opportunities, and a plethora of restaurants serving what they in varying degrees tag traditional fare. It is also the birthplace of at least a dozen famous Bulgarian poets, revolutionaries, intellectuals and other important folks. Some of their houses have been turned into museums.
The builders' inscription is explicit. The 100-metre-long five-arched stone bridge over the Struma River is the work of Ishak Pasha, Grand Vizier of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror. Ishak Pasha built the bridge in 1469-1470 to facilitate travel from Constantinople to Skopje and the western Balkans. Despite this, the stories that locals have told about the construction of the bridge over the ages have no reference to the name of the man who did this good deed.