50 interesting facts about Bulgaria and Bulgarian
Bulgaria is a Western European country located in the north-east of the Balkan Peninsula. Bulgaria has many common features with its neighbouring countries. But, at the same time, it is a unique country with its own customs, history and culture. In our article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its inhabitants, which will help to form a first impression and interestingly plan your holiday in Bulgaria.
50 most amazing facts about Bulgarian and Bulgaria
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. The first settlements of ancient people in Bulgaria appeared 40 thousand years ago. Their traces were found in the Bacho Kiro cave.
2. In the 1st millennium B.C. the Thracians established their kingdom in these lands.
3. The Thracian kingdom was conquered by the Macedonians, then by the Romans. In the 6th century AD, the Slavs came here.
4. Three kingdoms are distinguished in the history of the country. The first Bulgarian king established himself on the throne in 681, the last – in 1943.
5. In 864 Tsar Boris I began baptism of Bulgaria. He severely punished supporters of the Turkic religion – 52 noble families were executed.
6. At the end of the IX century, Byzantine educators Cyril and Methodius appeared in Bulgaria. They not only created the first Slavonic alphabet, but also established two book schools.
7. For a long time, the country was under Turkish rule. During this time, Sharia law was in force in Bulgaria.
8. Numerous uprisings and struggle against Turkish domination ended at the end of the XIX century with the creation of independent Bulgaria – first a principality and then the Third Kingdom.
9. After the Second World War, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria was formed as a member of the Warsaw Pact bloc of countries.
10. At the end of the 20th century, Bulgaria ceased to be a People’s Republic and remained simply a Republic. It became a member of NATO (2004) and the European Union (2007).
11. Modern Bulgaria is a dynamically developing state. It is home to almost 7 million people.
12. The city of Sofia first became the capital in 1530. First as one of the ejalets of the Ottoman Empire, then as the capital of a principality, a kingdom and finally a republic.
13. Plovdiv is considered to be the oldest city in the country. It was founded on the site of settlements of the VII millennium BC.
14. Bulgaria is an Orthodox state. Almost 78% of the country’s population professes Orthodoxy. The Muslim community is the second largest.
15. The tourism industry is actively developing in the country. Now the income from tourism makes about 14% of the GDP of the republic.
16. The oldest resort in Bulgaria is considered to be the complex of Saints Constantine and Helen, founded in 1905 in 2 kilometres from Varna. In the not so distant past, it was called «Druzhba» boarding house.
17. The smallest town in the country is called Melnik in the extreme south-west of the country. In 2022 there were only 234 inhabitants.
18. In Bulgarian, the only Slavic language except Macedonian, there are definite and indefinite artikles. But Bulgarians use cases very rarely.
19. One of the main attractions in Bulgaria is Varna, a city founded by the Greeks. It is like an open-air museum. There are marvellous churches, ruins of ancient Roman thermal, museums and a lot of greenery.
20. In 15 kilometres from Varna there is a cave monastery Aladzha, where the monks hid from the Ottoman invaders. Now the monastery has been turned into a tourist attraction.
21. In the town of Balchik there is the Palace of Queen Mary. It is a beautiful architectural complex with a monastery, a minaret and a huge botanical garden.
22. Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo is a monument of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It repelled Ottoman raids, and many towers bear traces of bloody battles.
23. The Old Town of Nessebar is also an iconic landmark. It is located on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a wide bridge. The narrow streets of the town can be walked for hours.
24. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is considered to be the symbol not only of the country, but also of Sofia. Its majestic building was built at the beginning of the last century, and famous artists Vasnetsov and Bruni took part in painting the frescoes.
25. One of the largest Roman amphitheatres in the Balkans is located in Plovdiv. It was built during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and after reconstruction it continued to host performances.
26. There are many monuments in the country dedicated to the fight against the Ottoman yoke. One of the most famous is the memorial in Buzludzha. Its shape resembles a saucer, for which it was nicknamed the Bulgarian UFO.
27. In the village of Rupite there is a chapel of St Paraskeva, where the famous clairvoyant Vanga was the ctitor. Near the church there is a monument and the grave of the great clairvoyant.
28. Zemensky Monastery 60 kilometres from Sofia are also considered a mystical, magical place. It was built in the XI century and pilgrims believe that if you put your left hand on the altar and make a wish, it will definitely come true.
Character and customs of Bulgarian
29. Bulgarians are considered to be very cheerful and sociable people. And the city of Gabrovo is considered one of the humour capitals of the world.
30. Bulgarians are a very hospitable people. They have a custom of welcoming guests with bread and salt. Only a piece of bread should be drunk with red wine. The red colour here symbolizes health and prosperity.
31. Bulgarians are very fond of making gifts when getting acquainted. As a rule, these are small things, for example, fruit.
32. Bulgarians are very responsive and always ready to help tourists. They have a custom of tying warm clothes around the trunks of city trees. This is a kind of help to the needy, who can take these clothes and get warm.
33. The same role is played by medical kits, which can be found in the forests on tree trunks. There they store medicines to provide first aid to tourists.
34. Also, the locals have a custom of hanging memorial sheets – photos of deceased people who lived here – on trees near the house. The photos are updated annually, and some may be several decades old.
35. It is customary for Bulgarians to nod in refusal and shake their heads in agreement.
36. Bulgarians have a more lavish celebration of their namesakes rather than their birthdays.
37. The national instrument of Bulgarians is the Gaida, the local bagpipe. No festive event is without its sounds.
38. Father Christmas in the country is called Dyado Koleda. The local Santa Claus differs from his counterparts in other countries in that he wears glasses. He travels on reindeer with his assistant, Snowdrop, in the company of gnomes and elves.
39. On Shrovetide, the Bulgarians have a tradition to dress up in scary masks to drive away evil spirits. A special dance called Kukeri is performed.
40. Another unusual and even shocking tradition of the republic is Nestinari – dancing on coals with bare feet.
41. One of the symbols of Bulgarian cuisine is sour milk products. It is believed that sour milk bacteria was discovered by a local doctor, Stamen Grigorov. There is even a museum of sour milk products in his birthplace in the village of Studen Izvor.
42. Another culinary symbol of the country is pepper, which in some places is called Bulgarian pepper, and in other places it is simply sweet. Roasted peppers are used to make Lutenitsa, a traditional Bulgarian vegetable purée.
43. The northern border of Bulgaria is the Danube River, one of the longest and fullest rivers in Europe. The Danube serves as the border between Bulgaria and Romania.
44. A significant part of the country is occupied by mountains. The highest point of the country is considered to be Mount Musala (2925 metres). It is located in the Rila Range in the south of the country.
45. The lion is considered to be the animal symbol of the republic, although these big cats have not been found here for a long time. But back in the First Kingdom the image of a lion was used for seals, and today it is depicted on the national emblem. And the monetary unit of the country is named Lion, not by chance.
46. And the plant symbol of the state can be called a rose. The country produces 70% of the world’s rose oil, and in honour of this flower is even arranged a grand festival.
47. Another plant symbol is called lavender. It was cultivated here only at the beginning of the last century, but very quickly the country became its main producer. Now even more lavender is grown here than in France.
48. Almost 70% of the territory of the Republic is covered with forests, and the oldest tree is an oak in the village of Granit near the town of Stara Zagora. This oak is 1650 years old.
49. Cats are very fond of cats in the country. There is even a bronze monument in Gabrovo – a cat fulfilling wishes. In order for a wish to come true, the cat must be petted, and a coin must be left near the monument.
50. Not far from the town of Ruse on the Danube, there is the Orlova Chuka cave, the second largest in the country. There is a small stream running through it, which also fulfils wishes if you drink its water. There are many caves in the republic, and the biggest one is Dulata, which is more than 18 kilometres long. The first cave to be used as a tourist attraction was Bacho Kiro in central Bulgaria.
Friends, if you know any more interesting facts about Bulgarians and Bulgaria, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions, and many people would be glad to learn something new. We will be very grateful to you!