Legends Bulgaria

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RHODOPE: WONDROUS BRIDGES

Dragons are imaginary creatures and geological processes are real, but the Wondrous Bridges in the Rhodope make believing in imaginary creatures easier.

The nature phenomenon is at the end of a potholed road that twists and turns for 16 kms west of Road 86, the main route that connects Smolyan in the Rhodope with the wider world. The area's peaks are dark green with firs and the deep valleys are white with streams, a picturesque cover of karst core, the result of millions of years of volcanic and tectonic activity.

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 10:53
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The remains of the 1981 secret digs at Golyamo Gradishte peak

LAND OF FAKE MYSTERIES

"I dislike bringing people here." The voice of the guide from the tourist office in Malko Tarnovo drops, as we approach the summit of Golyamo Gradishte, the highest peak in the Bulgarian part of the Strandzha mountains. It is summer. The sun shines through the thick foliage of the oak forest. The only thing negative about this pristine location, in the Strandzha Nature Park, are the midges that swarm around our eyes.

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 11:10
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GOD'S BRIDGE

It is easy to see why people gave such a name to the two stone arches spanning the small brook, and the series of caves near Vratsa. Even when you know in advance that the main stone arch is 20m high, 25m wide and 125m long, you only appreciate the magnitude of the place when you see it with your own eyes.

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 11:43
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WHO WAS KRALI MARKO?

For centuries, legends and epic songs were told and sung; they spread, transformed and became more and more elaborate, telling the story of the larger-than-life Krali Marko. The owner of a wondrous spotted horse, he encountered fairies, braved invaders and traitors, participated in heroic competitions, and freed thousands of enslaved men and women. It is hardly a surprise, then, that a number of locations in modern Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia bear his name.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 14:09
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AGUSHEV KONAK

Between 1825 and 1842, the local Muslim lord Aguş Aga built a sumptuous konak, or residence, for himself and his three sons. High whitewashed walls protected the aga's greatest treasures: his peace, his money and his family.

The building and its three yards, 221 windows, 86 doors and 24 chimneys occupied an acre of land by the Arda River.

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:34
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KADIN BRIDGE

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.

The elegant structure in Nevestino village, near Kyustendil, is known by two names. One is Kadin Bridge, the other Nevestin Bridge and, although the root of the former is a Turkish word and the latter a Bulgarian, both words mean the same: a married woman.

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 13:43
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SVILENGRAD; THE ETERNAL BRIDGE

The Mustafa Pasha Bridge in Svilengrad was a piece of engineering that impressed even Western travellers in the 15th-17th centuries, who were generally disappointed by the very ordinary appearance of towns and villages in the Ottoman Empire. Built in 1529 by Mustafa Pasha, a vizier of the sultans Selim I and Süleyman the Magnificent, the bridge was a part of a complex consisting of a kervansaray, or roadside inn, a hamam, or public bath, and various other buildings. At 295m it is the longest Ottoman bridge in Bulgaria, with 21 arches, the widest of which is 18 metres.

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 12:16
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BULGARIA'S ONLY OBELISK

North-central Bulgaria is not famed for its historical landmarks. It is a region of rolling hills and soft valleys, of small forests and depressed villages and towns where, even on the brightest days, grey is the predominant colour. It is as if generations of people had concluded that the landscape was good enough for farming, but not inspiring enough for the creation of something remarkable – a city, a temple, a legend.

As with most appearances, this one is not true. Indeed, this region is the home of one of Bulgaria's most curious ancient monuments: an obelisk.

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 11:15
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DECYPHERING RILA MONASTERY

Black-and-white striped arches, technicolor murals of saints and sinners and high mountain peaks filling the horizon: a visit to Rila Monastery is one of Bulgaria's most memorable experiences, and not only because of its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This place unites stunning landscapes, spirituality, formidable art and architecture, and some interesting stories. It is hardly a surprise that both Bulgarian King Boris III and Irish journalist James Bourchier wished to be buried here, in 1943 and 1920 respectively.

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 14:22
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THE BEST BULGARIAN BRIDGES

A legend is told all over the Balkans about a bridge and a stonemason. Once upon a time, a group of builders was commissioned to construct a bridge over a river, but whatever the men had built during the day was mysteriously destroyed during the night. Each morning the builders had to start from scratch.

Finally, the men saw the writing on the bridge, and realised that it wanted a human sacrifice. They reluctantly made a deal among themselves: on the following day, they would inter in the bridge the first person who came near.

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 13:19
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ARAPOVSKI MONASTERY: LESSER KNOWN GEM OF REVIVAL PERIOD

Yet, the country is dotted with many monastic complexes, which form the backbone of local tourism and religious life.

The Arapovski Monastery, about 12 km east of Asenovgrad, is one of these. Unlike most Bulgarian monasteries, Arapovo is not located at some hard-to-reach-but-picturesque corner of a mountain. Instead, it is on the fertile plain at the foot of the Rhodope.

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 12:34
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HARBINGERS OF SPRING

They are finally home: after flying thousands of kilometres from Africa, the storks have returned to Bulgaria, back to their old nests. Even more have passed through the country, on their way farther into Europe; according to the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, about 75 percent of the storks on the continent arrive through Bulgaria.

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 12:17
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TRYAVNA

Shopping in the centre of Tryavna, a traditional town in the central Stara Planina, is a peculiar experience. Here and there, in the narrow shops infused with the aroma of 200-year-old wood, you can find the usual souvenirs and touristy stuff you are familiar with from other traditional places in Bulgaria. However, in Tryavna the ubiquitous carved wood items, icons and old aprons mingle with more ordinary goods, as the old Revival Period shops in the city centre also sell groceries and washing powder, books, shoes and toys, and plenty of the locally manufactured underwear.

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:43
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BELOGRADCHIK ROCKS

In the 1870s, while travelling to Belogradchik, a tiny town in Bulgaria's northwest, Austro-Hungarian traveller and scientist Felix Kanitz was in two minds. Kanitz had read the boastful 1841 description of the magnificent beauty of the Belogradchik Rocks by Frenchman Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui, and he could scarcely believe it. It sounded too beautiful to be true and the lack of accounts by other Western travellers added to his suspicions.

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:07
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PARADISE OR HELL?

The precipitous stone cliffs of the Trigrad Gorge, in the western Rhodope, constrict the tiny Trigrad River, and the sound of rushing water blends with the buzz of tourists. Gathered around the entrance of the Devil's Throat Cave, they are waiting for the guide to come and lead them to the highest cave waterfall in Bulgaria.

"That's the real thing," our guide says and points at the opposite side of the gorge. There is a plain stone wall, high and impenetrable. "Inside, there is a cave, too, the Haramiyska Cave."

"What's interesting about that?," someone asks.

Mon, 09/23/2013 - 14:19
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KNIGHT TEMPLARS IN BULGARIA?

Confirmed evidence about knights on Bulgarian soil is rare. They did pass through during the Crusades and in 1205 they were defeated by the Bulgarian King Kaloyan in the Battle of Adrianople. Soon afterwards, their King Baldwin I died in the Bulgarian capital, Tarnovo. In 1443-1444, King Wladislaw III of Poland led a crusade to expel the Ottomans from the Balkans, but lost both the battle and his life near Varna. Supposedly, that was that.

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 15:30
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GOOD CAPE

Wherever you reach some higher ground in Bulgaria there will be a legend about it. And in 90 percent of the cases it will be about some brave Bulgarian maidens who jumped off it to avoid being "enslaved" by Turks.

Kaliakra is no exception.

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 13:24
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GOD'S BRIDGE

Lilyashka Bara, the brook that flows near the village of Lilyache, a few kilometres from Vratsa, is a quiet and peaceful stream. It would be no different from dozens of other rivulets that flow past dozens of other villages, if it wasn't for a quirk of nature. Lilyashka Bara may look mild and gentle, but sometimes it overflows suddenly, surging in an unstoppable tide, sweeping away everything in its way – from mills to bridges.

Fri, 12/30/2011 - 11:04
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