Europe’s Hidden Secret
Bulgaria is a delightful discovery for those who come here for the first time – and a fascinating country for those who return. With its stunning scenery, amazing diversity, historic places to visit and many hidden gems, Bulgaria has so much to offer the visitor. The choice of things to do and see here is virtually endless. Whether you are looking for a cultural experience, a wellness holiday, a seaside vacation or skiing in the mountains, you will be able to find it in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is also ideal for walking and adventure holidays, giving you the chance to explore the unspoiled countryside and, at the same time, to visit some of the many historical sites that will take you on a journey into the past.
Not many countries in the world have a longer or more varied history than Bulgaria. More than 2000 years ago, the ancient Bulgars lived in various parts of Asia before arriving in the Balkans and founding their state in the seventh century on lands conquered from the mighty Byzantine Empire. In the next couple of centuries, they would build a magnificent empire that would become Byzantium’s biggest rival in the region. But with the changing fortunes of history, the Bulgarian Empire eventually declined and fell under Ottoman rule in the late fourteenth century. Modern Bulgaria was born in 1878, when the five centuries of foreign rule were brought to an end by a war between czarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire. After the dramatic twentieth century, which included 45 years of communist rule (1944-1989) Bulgaria opened a new page in its history with its accession to the European Union on 1 January 2007.
Since Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, more and more people all over the world have been interested in learning more about the country. Strategically located at the crossroads of East and West, Bulgaria has been home to different civilizations and cultures, evidence of which can be found all over its territory. Bulgaria abounds in archaeological and architectural monuments and sites left by the Thracians, the Ancient Greeks, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, as well as in mediaeval monasteries located in places of breathtaking beauty.
Bulgaria is proud of its cultural and historical heritage. Here are just several facts which show that this country has something different and unique to offer the visitor.
- Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe. Latest research shows that Bulgaria was founded in 632, which makes it the only country in Europe to have kept its original name for 13 centuries. At the time it was founded, the only existing states in Europe were the Western Roman (Frankish) Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium).
- The world’s oldest worked gold, dating from the fifth millennium BC, was found in Bulgaria.
- A number of magnificent Thracian gold treasures, which have toured the world with huge success, were discovered in Bulgaria.
- Bulgaria is the birthplace of Orpheus, the mythical musician from the region of Thrace.
- There are seven historical cultural strata on Bulgarian territory: of an unknown civilization from the fifth millennium BC, the Thracian civilization, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Bulgars, and the Ottoman Empire.
- According to statistics, Bulgaria is the third country in Europe (after Greece and Italy) by number of archaeological monuments.
- Bulgaria has seven cultural and two natural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
- During the five centuries of Ottoman rule, the Bulgarian nation kept its language, identity and religion within the huge empire.
- Bulgaria saved 50 000 Jews from deportation to the death camps during World War II even though it was an ally of Nazi Germany at the time.
- Bulgaria is the birthplace of yoghurt, the food of centenarians.
- The global perfume and cosmetics industry could not do without Bulgarian rose oil. Bulgaria produces 80% of the world’s supply of rose oil.
- Bulgaria is one of the biggest wine producers
- Bulgaria has unique biodiversity, with more than 12 500 plant species and about 800 vertebrates.