Shumen (Bulgaria)

Shumen (Bulgarian: Шумен) is a city in the northeastern part of Bulgaria, capital of Shumen Province. From 1950–1965 it was called Kolarovgrad, after Vasil Kolarov. Other English variants include Shoumen and Šumen. The city has a population of 92 566 by current address (2010).

The city lies 80 km west of Varna and is built within a cluster of hills, northern outliers of the eastern Balkans, which curve round it on the west and north in the shape of a horse-shoe. A rugged ravine intersects the ground longitudinally within the horse-shoe ridge. From Shumen roads radiate northwards to the Danubian cities of Rousse and Silistra and to Dobruja, southwards to the passes of the Balkans, and eastwards to Varna and Balchik.

In 811 Shumen was burned by the emperor Nicephorus, and in 1087 it was besieged by Alexius I. During the golden age of Bulgarian culture under Simeon the Great (866-927), Shumen was a centre of cultural and religious activity, and may have born the name Simeonis. Until the 15th century, the city was located around the Shumen Fortress, a sophisticated complex of defensive installations, religious and civil buildings.

In 1388 the sultan Murad I forced it to surrender to the Ottoman Turks. After Władysław Warneńczyk‘s unsuccessful crusade in 1444, the city was destroyed by the Ottomans and moved to its present location. It was known by the Ottomans as Şumnu. In the 18th century it was enlarged and fortified. Three times, in 1774, 1810 and 1828, it was unsuccessfully attacked by Russian armies. The Turks consequently gave it the name of Gazi („Victorious”). In 1854 it was the headquarters of Omar Pasha and the point at which the Turkish army concentrated (See Crimean War).

During the 19th century Shumen was an important centre of the Bulgarian National Revival, with the first celebration of Cyril and Methodius in the Bulgarian lands taking place on 11 May 1813 and the first theatre performance. A girls’ religious school was established in 1828, a class school for girls and a chitalishte (community centre) followed in 1856. The first Bulgarian symphony orchestra was founded in the city in 1850. In the same year, influential Hungarian politician and revolutionary leader Lajos Kossuth spent a part of his exile in the then-Ottoman town of Shumen. The house he lived in is still preserved as a museum.

On the 22nd June 1878 Shumen finally capitulated to the Russians and became part of the newly-independent Principality of Bulgaria. In 1882 the Shumen Brewery, one of the first breweries in Bulgaria, was founded.

Shumen has 11 elementary and 5 common schools, as well as 2 high schools. The University of Shumen Episkop Konstantin Preslavski and the Artillery and Air Defense Faculty to the Vasil Levski National Military University are the only higher education establishments in the city. The former operates a small astronomical observatory.

Shumen boasts the Monument to 1300 Years of Bulgaria, regarded as the only monument in the world to depict the history of a whole country from its creation to the present day.

The Shumen Fortress, partially restored after being destroyed by the Ottomans in the past, is an important historical monument of the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It is located not far from the city on the Shumen Plateau.

The Madara Horseman, a World Heritage Site, is an ancient (710 AD) monument usually attributed to the Bulgar culture, and lies some 20 km from Shumen.

The religious buildings in the city include the Eastern Orthodox Holy Three Saints Cathedral and Holy Ascension Basilica, as well as the Tombul Mosque, the largest mosque in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans, serving Shumen and the region’s Muslim minority.

Twinned Towns

Source: Wikipedia

Travel journal

  • Day one ~12.30

Writing while the train was running from Bucharest to Rousse

In vain I try to make introductions because I guess you are already used with our crazy traveling style. We decided to leave almost without any plans before made.

It seemed to be a special day, too sunny for a November day. I think the gods were working together for us to have the last piece of summer. That sun that made us not to look with open eyes to the sky was making a strange contrast with that golden forests that were developed in our view throw the blotted glass of the wagon window.

The long autumnal night gifted us a fresh morning begun with a natural enthusiasm. Every of us had a very well delimited job- he the technical part and me the rest J and everything was ready as fast as you say “travel”.

Our iron-friend, I mean the train, leaves at 12.24 from the North station wearing us in one of that Bulgarian dusty wagons.

  • Day two ~6.30

Yesterday we arrived and we stayed some big hours in Rousse accommodated by a friend. It was good for us to catch some hours of sleeping because we had to leave to Shumen. Right now we are hand in hand with the Bulgarian iron-friend hardly trying to keep our sleepy eyes opened. There isn’t the time for making pompous descriptions because the train arrives at 9 and I don’t have to waste that two precious sleeping hours. Bulgarian train be our guard!

  • After the journey, rememorize the events

At 9 and a few minutes the train arrived to Kaspichan [Каспичан], a very little town from where we had a link-train to Shumen. From Rousse to Kaspichan we had two ways tickets bought for 13.70 leva for one. We stayed approximately 20 minutes in that town and then we get in the second train without ticket:D because the first stop was to Shumen. Although it was only 20 km we had to make a little business with the Bulgarian porter. To our surprise nothing stopped the porter to take even a 5 stotinki coin.

We arrived fast to Shumen. I can’t say that the town it’s special in any way, the most interesting places are up to Shumen, situated on the near hills. We went to the center trying in vain to find people able to speak English to explain us how to arrive at a tourist information center or at the fortress. We didn’t find and we had to manage our selves without map, without anyone speaking English, we had to roam those streets trying to find the right way to the fortress. Finally we succeedJ. It followed an hour of walking to the hill that kept the centennial walls. It was wonderful to feel the autumn from the forest’s heart, to rustle dried leafs under foots. The road was quite exhausting, but seeing sometimes the fortress’ walls between the trees made us to have power and to want more and more to arrive there.

As I said, in one hour we were climbing the walls seen from far. The place is organized like an open air museum for what you need to pay 3 leva [one if you are student]. It was amazing to see such a big fortress placed in such a good place… I can’t explain you the feeling, you really must see with our eyes and to feel it throw your own feeling…

After visiting this objective, as we had time enough we lay in our powers and started to walk again to the monument built to celebrate 1300 years from the Bulgarian state foundation. We had another hour to spend measuring the forest throw our steps. I resume all landscape like this: a picture with mountains and trees framed by drying leafs.

The monument is huge, bigger then we imagined. There is a museum, but the most interesting part it is outside: huge walls paved with big cubist statues. Even if it has the coldness of the communistic buildings, it is one of the most spectacular monuments I have ever seen. There are some steps that link the monument hill with Shumen’s center. We didn’t count them but we read after that there are 1300. We follow the steps [the damned steps that produced us a horrible muscle ache] and we arrived quickly down. We had enough time to arrive to the railway station, so without hurrying up we went there. To our bad surprise the ticket from Shumen to Kaspichan was extremely expensive comparing the price with the only 20 km distance.

The train went directly to Rousse, so we could sleep well from 18.33, when the train left Shumen, till 21.50 when it arrived. The train to Bucharest arrives in Rousse at 3 in the night, unfortunately for us we had to waste some hour there. The time passed slowly, we were too tirred, it was cold… The locomotive’s light seen in the farness made us to breathe relived because we knew that we have in our front three blessed hours of sleeping. We don’t have too many memories from the road. At six in the morning we were in Bucharest and half an hour later we were in bed absorbed by dreams.

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Sofia reloaded :)

Travel journal – Sofia

It is a long time since we were planning this escapade to Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Since we went in Ruse we had it on stand by list and now it came the time for it. As usually, it followed plans after plans, days and days browsing sites about Bulgarian trains, cities, places and so on.

After almost a week of day dreaming lately came the big day. As usually we went at our best friend called North station, we took the well known train going to Thessalonic that leaves at 12.24 Romanian capital, prepared to fly over the Danube. I remember we were so anxious looking at the platform clock that shown only 12.10.

The time was walking too slow comparing with our young boiling blood. Lately, after we blunted that clock hanged in our front, the porter whistled train’s departure to our happiness. Quaffing every landscape, every sound, every human face of Romanian, Bulgarians and I don’t know any other people that were traveling with that train, after tasting the last Romanian air on the Friendship Bridge that separates the two countries we saw somewhere afar the little Vienna, in free translation the Bulgarian city Ruse.

At 14.50 we should be there, but some technical problems made us to arrive with a couple of minutes later. But it wasn’t a problem because the train that had to get us to Sofia leaves from Ruse at 22.30. It was our choice because we wanted, on the one hand to make more interesting the travel seeing as many cities as it is possible, and on the other hand, to visit one friend that live there. We succeeded in both targets.

Our friend shown us other places that we hadn’t seen last time when we went there alone. We saw the ruins of the old roman fortress Sexaginta Prista situated on Danube’s shore and a mosque. Because it was almost dark we went in a little bar to have a Bulgarian bier before taking the train. After this we went again to the railway station. We bought tickets – from Ruse to Sofia costs 17 leva/person. Unfortunately we find out too late that if you buy a two way ticket you have a promotional price. We had in our front a night sleeping between the train noise and the uncomfortable train chairs.

We arrived to Sofia in the morning, around 6, being tired and sleepy. The train arrived a little bit later and our friend too and we had to wait for him in the railway hall. It was a huge communistic waiting room, wearing yet the soviet dusted stars. After some minutes that we don’t know how it passed because of the sleepy, all I remember it is that it was pretty cold J Lately our friend came and we followed one of that streets and we arrived at the blessed place: a warm house and a big bed. J After 2-3 sleeping hours we were as new. Our Bulgarian friend and his wife had the pleasure to guide as throw Sofia to show us the main objectives.

We took the bus to arrive in center and entered into the Borisova garden, a big and beautiful park. We cut the garden to arrive near Pancharevo (Панчарево). In our first day to Sofia we visited the surroundings including: Pancharevo Lake and Boyana church, letting the center for the next day.

The following day the Bulgarian hostess guides us through Sofia, this time in the city. We saw a lot of places: the ruins of Serdica fortress, the Banya Bashi Mosque, the Sofia’s synagogue, the Public mineral baths, Nevski cathedral, Vitosha Boulevard, the University, The Market Hall, the Saint George Church (Свети Георги).

We visited a lot in Sofia. This is that type of city that you can fill pages and pages about, but I don’t want to bore or to bust your happiness to discovery by your own.

If you are a Romanian that never visit Sofia you will ask me for sure: “Is it prettiest then Bucharest?”. I will answer “yes”, but the comparison is not just at all.

Sofia is an old city, with another history, another society, another evolution. On the cultural side it is better than Bucharest, but if you look at infrastructure, life style it is not the same think.

Summing up, you really must put Sofia on your travel list. 🙂

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Boyana (Bulgaria)

Boyana (Bulgarian: Бояна) is a neighbourhood of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, part of Vitosha municipality and situated 8 km south of the city centre, in the outskirts of Vitosha. Boyana is typically regarded as one of the best and most expensive neighborhoods of Sofia to live in. The residents are primary wealty business people, government officials and other important members of the Bulgarian social and political life. Formerly a village, it was incorporated into Sofia in 1961.

In connection to the uprising of Peter Delyan of 1040 and the Pecheneg invasion of 1048, an important stronghold under the name of Boyan(Боян, Βοιάνος) is mentioned in the area, where a garrison led by a voivod called Botko was disposed.

The famous Boyana Church, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, is located in the neighborhood. Other landmarks include the Boyana Waterfall, the Kopitoto area and the National Historical Museum in the former Boyana Residence. The Boyana Film film centre and the Big Brother Bulgaria house are also part of Boyana.

Boyana’s name was first mentioned in the 11th-century Vision of Daniel in the excerpt РЄЧЄТЬ ОУ БОІАНѢ ѠСТАВИТЄ ТОУ ПЛѢНЬ. The name is most likely derived from the personal name Boyan. An etymology from Vulgar Latin or Balkan Latin *boiana („herdsman’s [river]), from Latinboviana („herdsman’s”) is considered less likely.

Other landmarks include the Boyana Waterfall, the Kopitoto area and the National Historical Museum in the former Boyana Residence. The Boyana Film film centre and the Big Brother Bulgaria house are also part of Boyana.

Source: Wikipedia

Sofia (Bulgaria)

For more infos click oon the map

Sofia (Bulgarian: София) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city by population in the European Union, with 1.4 million people living in the Capital Municipality. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha, and is the administrative, cultural, economic, and educational centre of the country.

Sofia was first mentioned in the sources as Serdica in relation to Marcus Licinius Crassus’ campaigns in 29 BC. The name Serdica or Sardica (Σερδική, Σαρδική) was popular in Latin, Ancient Greek and Byzantine Greek sources from Antiquity and the Middle Ages; it was related to the local Celtic tribe of the Serdi.

Sofia’s development as a significant settlement owes much to its central position in the Balkans. It is situated in western Bulgaria, at the northern foot of the Vitosha mountain, in the Sofia Valley that is surrounded by mountains on all sides. The valley is the largest one in the country with territory of 1,186 square kilometres (458 sq mi) and average altitude of 550 metres (1,804 ft). Three mountain passes lead to the city, which have been key roads since antiquity, connecting the Adriatic Sea and Central Europe with the Black and Aegean Seas.

It is located 130 kilometres (81 mi) northwest of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, 340 kilometres (211 mi) west of Burgas 380 kilometres (236 mi) west of Varna, Bulgaria’s major port-cities on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The city is situated at less than 200 kilometres (124 mi) from the borders with three countries: 55 kilometres (34 mi) from Kalotina on the Serbian border, 113 kilometres (70 mi) from Gyueshevo on the frontier with the Republic of Macedonia and 183 kilometres (114 mi) from the Greek border at Kulata.

Bulgarian "meze-мезé" appetizer (with mastika is great)

Romanian Dacia store in Sofia 🙂 (in last years more and more bulgarians buy Dacia cars)

Front view of the renovated Central Railway Station in Sofia (renovated and reconstructed in the 2000s under Milan Dobrev and Olympic Stadium Munich-style tensile elements of 4,500 m² were added)

A cute little bulgarian cat (kotka :P)

Bulgarian coach at first class in the train Bucharest-Sofia

Konstantin Velichkov (Константин Величков) Blvd

Konstantin Velichkov Metro Station

The same station operational since 28.01.1998

Bulgarian tram in old center

Holy Sunday Church (Bulgarian: църква „Света Неделя“ Sveta Nedelya), probably built in the 10th century

Vitosha Boulevard (булевард "Витоша")

Central Sofia Market Hall (It was opened in 1911 and is today an important trade centre in the city)

Banya Bashi Mosque (Баня баши джамия) build in 1576

Sofia Public Mineral Baths (It was built in the early 20th century near the former Turkish bath -then destroyed- and was used as the city's public baths until 1986)

Bulgarian National Bank (down you can observe Viennese yellow cobblestones)

A turtle at National Museum of Natural History

Grand Hotel Bulgaria, near the National Museum of Natural History

The Russian Church or the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, built in 1914 is dedicated to the patron-saint of the Russian Tsar at the time Nicholas II

The early Byzantine Church of St Sophia was built in the 6th century on the place of an ancient Roman theatre and several earlier churches.

The gold-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built in the early 20th century in memory of the 200,000 Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian and Bulgarian soldiers, who died in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878. It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. The cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high, with the bell tower reaching 50.52 m.

The Monument to the Tsar Liberator is an equestrian monument in the centre of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It was erected in honour of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria of Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia (Софийски университет „Св. Климент Охридски)

National Assembly of Bulgaria

Monument to the Soviet Army built in 1954, near to Vasil Levski National Stadium

Monument of Vasil Levski in Borisova Gradina (Boris's Park)

Slaveykov Square (Площад Славейков)

St. Sedmochislenitsi Church which was created between 1901 and 1902 through the conversion of an abandoned Ottoman mosque, and was inaugurated on 27 July 1903. The church is named after Cyril and Methodius and their five disciples, known in the Orthodox Church collectively as the Sedmochislenitsi.

Georgi Rakovski Street (Улица Георги Раковски)

A nice old Jaguar 🙂

The Church of St George is a late Roman rotunda dated from 4th century situated in the courtyard of the Sheraton Sofia Hotel. It was constructed with red bricks and is considered the oldest building in Sofia. It is known for its Medieval frescoes in the central dome dating from 12-14th centuries.

Presidential Palace

Serdika Metro Station (into operation since October 31, 2000)

The biggest shopping mall in Bulgaria (Serdika Center)

The mall is located on the Sitnyakovo Blvd.

It has 210 stores with a commercial space of over 51,000 square meters on three levels, and office space of some 30,000 square meters

Inside of Central Railway Station (Централна железопътна гара) located near Central Bus Station (Централна автогара София, Tsentralna avtogara)

Communist blocks

Martenitsa (мартеници) is a small piece of adornment, made of white and red yarn and worn from March 1 until around the end of March (or the first time an individual sees a stork, swallow or budding tree). In Romania we also have a similar but not identical holiday on March 1, called "Mărţişor".

The train ticket from Ruse to Sofia which was 17 leva-34 lei-9 euro (the distance is 405 km)

Bus and metro tickets are 1 leva, which mean 0.50 euro or 2 lei

Bus and metro tickets are 1 leva, which mean 0.50 euro or 2 lei

National Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural History

Tutrakan (Bulgaria)

Tutrakan (Bulgarian: Тутракан, Romanian: Turtucaia) is a town in northeastern Bulgaria, part of Silistra Province. It is situated on the right bank of the Danube opposite the Romanian town of Olteniţa in the very west of Southern Dobruja, 58 km east of Rousse and 62 km west of Silistra.

The town was founded by the Ancient Romans in the end of the first half of the 1st century under the name Transmarisca. The settlement was part of the Roman military boundary in the 1st and 3rd century and reached its apogee in the 4th century, when, under the personal management of Diocletian, it was made one of the largest strongholds of the Danubian limes.

The ancient town and fortress were destroyed in the beginning of the 7th century and the modern town carrying its present name emerged in the end of the century, remaining a military centre through the Middle Ages as part of the Bulgarian Empire, which was conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th century.

Tutrakan was liberated from Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 by Russians to become part of the Kingdom of Bulgaria. After the Second Balkan War, it was incorporated, along with all of Southern Dobruja, in Romania until 1940, when the pre-World War II Treaty of Craiova returned the territory to Bulgaria.

During World War I, the town, then part of Romania, was the site of the important Battle of Tutrakan during which Central Powers forces defeated decisively the Romanian Army.

Source: Wikipedia

A shower panel

A shower panel

Derrick (elevator) on the Danube shore

Derrick (elevator) on the Danube shore

Orthodox Church

Orthodox Church

TV Tower

Tutrakan TV Tower (Build: 1979, Height: 98 m "322 ft")

The pontoon

The pontoon

The Danube (Dunav in Bulgarian)

The Danube (Dunav in Bulgarian)

Sveshtari (Bulgaria)

Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari

Sveshtari royal tomb below Ginina Mogila Mound - 4th - 3th century BC (

Sveshtari royal tomb below Ginina Mogila Mound - 4th - 3th century BC (

The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is situated 2,5 km southwest of the village of Sveshtari, Razgrad Province, which is located 42 km northeast of Razgrad, in the northeast of Bulgaria.

Discovered in 1982 in a mound, this 3rd century BC Thracian tomb reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings.

The tomb’s architectural decor is considered to be unique, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals.

The ten female figures carved in high relief on the walls of the central chamber and the decorations of the lunette in its vault are the only examples of this type found so far in the Thracian lands.

It is a remarkable reminder of the culture of the Getae, a Thracian people who were in contact with the Hellenistic and Hyperborean worlds, according to ancient geographers.

Source: Wikipedia

A mine on the road from Rousse to Sveshtari

A mine on the road from Rousse to Sveshtari

Near Sveshtari village

Near Sveshtari village

A table in the forest, near to the Reception centre

A table in the forest, near to the Reception centre

The forest from behind the Reception centre

The forest from behind the Reception centre

Thracians outside the Reception centre

Thracians outside the Reception centre

The road to the tombs

The road to the tombs

The principal tomb (royal tomb)

The principal tomb (royal tomb)

Reception centre

Reception centre

Royal tomb

Royal tomb

Picture postcart and calendar with the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari

Picture postcart and calendar with the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari

Prospectus from the Reception centre

Prospectus from the Reception centre

Prospectus with the tomb

Prospectus with the tomb

The ticket for the entrance to the Sveshtari royal tomb (5 Bulgarian lev "лев")

The ticket for the entrance to the Sveshtari royal tomb (5 Bulgarian lev "лев" which mean 2.5 euro)