President's refusal to appoint a caretaker government hurls nation into prolonged political crisis
Parliament adopts law to streamline Bulgarian days off
How many caves there are in Bulgaria is a question with no definitive answer. So far, more than 4,500 have been discovered and mapped. The number is so high because 22 percent of the country is covered with karst, a topography created when water soaks, dissolves and carves sedimentary rocks, mainly limestone, dolomite, and marble. Over millennia, the water shapes the karst into a variety of forms both on the ground and deep below. Caves are some of the most spectacular results of this activity.
What first attracts your attention in a Bulgarian Revival Period church? The architecture? The silver-haloed icons of the Virgin Mary? The elaborate carvings of the icon doors? These may all be astonishing, but have you noticed the river of fire, on the outside western wall of most of the churches, flowing towards the gaping mouth of a dragon-like monster? Have you bent to see in detail the devils in the flames? Have you wondered what were the crimes of the sinners they torture?
... Especially if accompanied by a few sentences to explain the context. The man in the middle is Bulgaria's former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The location is Hitrino, a village in northeastern Bulgaria. The occasion is a major train accident at the village station that resulted in a huge explosion leaving eight people dead and devastating many people's homes.
We all love snow in the city on the first day after it falls, while the air is still crisp and pristine white covers the dusty streets, the cars, the leafless trees. However, after its first day in Sofia, snow becomes just another urban annoyance. The compacted ice on the pavements. The impassable streets. The grey, yellow and black hues the snow assumes from the dirty city air. Not. Enjoyable. At. All.
Straight streets intersecting at right angles: Stara Zagora, a southern Bulgarian city of 150,000, is the only one of its type in Bulgaria. It is the result of a tragedy and a necessity. In the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, Stara Zagora was razed to the ground after a vicious battle. Rebuilding began in 1878 according to a plan by an Austro-Hungarian architect.
Bulgaria is probably not your idea of a place where New Ageism proliferates. Wrong. Esoteric beliefs, faiths and even churches have existed since the dawn of Christianity in these lands, amalgamating – sometimes overwhelmingly – The Bible, The Quran and various pagan rites and passages. Common sense has never been held in very high esteem here, so belief in the transcendental, the bizarre and the occult has become a natural outlet for people's problems, woes and visions.
"Today I went to see that sort of an island with the ruins, but it was closed. I read that it used to be a school for fishermen," a British friend says, incredulously. She sips her white wine, which we are enjoying in the best of Sozopol's restaurants, on the rocky shore of the old town, and adds: "Being a fisherman is not something you are taught in school, it is a trade that generally runs in the family."