Do you know Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a small country of 7 million inhabitants located in the Balkans, north of Greece and south of Romania. It joined the European Union in 2007. Bulgaria has “undergone” the influences of the great civilizations and neighboring powers. This translates today into a great cultural and historical richness:
- Vestiges of the Byzantine Empire
- The Ottoman Empire (found in particular in the kitchen)
- Russian Orthodox culture (religion, architecture)
- Remnants of the Soviet era
It is also one of the favorite destinations of Europeans during the summer period. Bulgaria also has the mountains where you can ski in the winter and the sea for swimming in the summer! In short, a country with many assets! Between nature and a dynamic and attractive city, you will not be bored for anything in the world! In this article, I will focus more on the culture and mountain part in winter.
Spots not to be missed for beautiful pictures of Bulgaria in winter:
- Pyramides de Stob
- Monastère de Rila
Sofia, the Capital of Bulgaria
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria with 1.3 million inhabitants. It is a city with many faces: Sofia, Serdika, Sredets. It is also one of the oldest cities in Europe. A walk through the historical center and you will discover its richness and authenticity.
Below : the highest point is the Alexander Nevski Cathedral . It is one of Sofia’s landmarks and a remarkable work of Orthodox architecture and icon painting. It is one of the jewels of Orthodox cathedrals. The structure is important with a neo-Byzantine style with its golden domes in front. It is a symbol of Bulgarian independence. Inside, there is a superb collection of icons. In winter under the snow the Alexander Nevski Cathedral is just magical! Don’t hesitate to have a look, it’s worth the detour!
Below left: the National Palace of Culture and it is an example of Soviet architecture.
Right: the baths with Ottoman architecture.
Stob, the Bryce canyon of Bulgaria in winter
The Pyramids of Stob is a natural site where the formation of rocks have been dug over time. They are located not far from the village of Stob, in the province of Kyustendil and not far from Blagoevgrad in the southwest of Bulgaria. These natural pyramids are among the most popular tourist attractions in Bulgaria.
I have not photographed this landscape at dawn…but I do recommend sunrise or sunset. A hike is necessary to admire and reach the viewpoints. It made me think of Bryce Canyon in Utah. To get there from Sofia, it will take you about 1 hour.
The top of the pyramids offers a breathtaking view of the entire bed of the Rila River and also the surroundings of the Rila Monastery and the snow-covered peaks of the mountain. A break at the Rila Monastery is recommended! 🙂
Rila Monastery, UNESCO heritage
The Monastery is located in the heart of Rila Mountain. It is one of the most unmissable places in the country and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Rila Monastery was founded by St. Ivan (John) of Rila around the year 930.
I was also fascinated by the frescoes and colorful altars located all along the walls of the Monastery dating back to the Middle Ages.
The Monastery of Rila seen from the sky
Plovdiv in winter, the cultural jewel of Bulgaria
Did you know that Plovdiv was the European Capital of Culture in 2019 and also one of the oldest cities in Europe?
The first inhabitants of Plovdiv settled 4,000 years B.C. Explore the picturesque old town and enjoy the view of the ancient Roman theater overlooking the city. Plovdiv’s pedestrian zone offers attractive entertainment opportunities! Plovdiv is a concentration of civilizations that may have impregnated Bulgaria with: Ottoman architecture: colorful house, mosque… It feels like Istanbul!
Then privilege a dinner in the traditional Mehana style (Механа). Then finish your day in beauty with the dances and folk songs of the Balkans.
An important Roman vestige: the Roman theater of Philippopolis built in IIᵉ century.
Plovdiv is a colorful city full of surprises. The colors bring warmth and a sparkling atmosphere to it. It is also a lively city where it is good to live with its pedestrian streets, restaurants, etc…. An enormous blow of heart!
Keep your camera with you so that you don’t miss a single shot!
It is a panoramic view of the Valley of Roses with the Russian church of Shipka Bailovo in the foreground. The softness of the colors brings out the golden domes. We can see the Balkan Mountains and the Shipka Pass.
The Shipka church was built in memory of the Russian-Turkish war that liberated the Bulgarians from the Ottoman yoke in 1902. In the crypt of the Russian church you will find 17 marble sarcophagi containing the bones of the soldiers who died in the war in 1877. It is an impressive building both inside and outside!
My advice: this view would be incredible under the snow but I was not so lucky. In autumn with the colors as well!
Borovets, you can ski in Bulgaria!
Bulgaria has its ski resorts and Borovets is one of the most popular. Borovets is a town located on the northern slope of the Rila Mountains. During the winter it is the largest ski resort in Bulgaria and offers all summer activities. Many English people have spotted the vein! The resort is at 1300m and you can ski up to 2560m. And it is also possible to ski at night. There are two slopes which are permanently open. The ski lifts are not the most modern: we can find our gondola lifts from the 90’s! But they still work very well!
The snowy landscape is not to be missed. Discover and appreciate these pictures, it will surely make you want to travel! 🙂