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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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


Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

Plovdiv (Bulgarian: Пловдив) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria with a population of 381,738. Known in the West for most of its history by the Greek name Philippopolis, it was originally a Thracian settlement before becoming a major Roman city. In the Middle Ages, it retained its strategic regional importance, changing hands between the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires. It came under Ottoman rule in the 14th century. In 1878, Plovdiv was made the capital of the autonomous Ottoman region of Eastern Rumelia; in 1885, it became part of Bulgaria with the unification of that region and the Principality of Bulgaria.

Plovdiv is situated in the southern part of the Plovdiv Plain on the two banks of the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven hills, some of which are 250 m high. Because of these seven hills, Plovdiv is often referred to in Bulgaria as „The City of the Seven Hills”.

The Slavs had fully settled in the area by the middle of the 6th century and changed the ethnic proportions of the region. With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681 Philipopolis became an important border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. It was captured by Khan Krum in 812 but the region was fully incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire in 834 during the reign of Khan Malamir. It remained in Bulgarian hands for a relatively short time until it was reconquered by the Byzantine Empire in 855-856.

Under tsar Simeon the Great (893–927) the city and most of the Byzantine possessions in the Balkans were conquered by the Bulgarian Empire. The city remained in Bulgarian hands under Simeon’s son, Peter I (927–969).

In 970 the Asian army of the Byzantine Empire under the eunuch Peter was destroyed by the Bulgarians near Plovdiv. The city again came to be known as Philippopolis and became Byzantine in character.

Byzantine rule was succeeded by that of the Latin Empire in 1204, and there were two short interregnum periods as the city was twice occupied by Kaloyan of Bulgaria before his death in 1207. In 1208 Kaloyan’s successor Boril was defeated by the Latins in the Battle of Philippopolis.

Under Latin rule, Plovdiv was the capital of the Duchy of Philippopolis governed by Renier de Trit, and later on by Gerard de Strem. Bulgarian rule was reestablished during the reign of Ivan Asen II between 1225 and 1229. In 1263 Plovdiv was conquered by the restored Byzantine Empire and remained in Byzantine hands until it was re-conquered by George Terter II of Bulgaria in 1322. Byzantine rule was restored once again in 1323, but in 1344 the city and eight other cities were surrendered to Bulgaria by the regency for John V Palaiologos as the price for Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria‘s support in the Byzantine civil war.

In 1364 the Ottoman Turks under Lala Shakhin Pasha seized Plovdiv. The Turks called the city Filibe. It was the capital of Rumelia until 1382 when the Ottomans captured Sofia which became the main city of the province.

Plovdiv survived as one of the major cultural centers for Bulgarian culture and tradition. The name Plovdiv first appeared around that time and is derived from the city’s Thracian name Pulpudeva (assumed to be a translation of Philippopolis, from Pulpu = Philippou and deva = city), which was rendered by the Slavs first as Pəldin (Пълдин) or Pləvdin.

The city was liberated from the Ottomans during the Battle of Philippopolis in 1878.

The climate is temperate with mild influence from the Mediterranean Sea and a huge temperature range between summers and winters. Summers are generally extremely hot and dry. On average the city experiences 38 days of temperatures over 30c and 7 days of over 40c a year. Winters are cold, but can sometimes be accompanied by a Mediterranean influence, which can on occasions result in huge temperature jumps within just a few days.

Tourist attractions:

The Rennaissance town of Old Plovdiv was built during the 19th century. Today it has survived as a unique architectual ensemble on the three hills. Its houses reveal the remarkable urban culture of Bulgarian builders, as well as their sense of harmony and their creative power. The brilliant architecture with its noble, stylish simplicity could be called rightfully the Baroque of Plovdiv.

The Church of the Holy Mother of God (Bulgarian: Църква Света Богородица) is a Bulgarian National Revival church in Bulgaria‘s second largest city Plovdiv. The church is situated in the Old town of Plovdiv on one of the city’s seven hills, Nebet Tepe.

A small church existed on that place since the 9th century. The church was renovated in 1186 by the bishop of Plovdiv Constantine Pantehi and it became part of a monastery. Both the church and the monastery were destroyed when the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1371 during the course of the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars. The current edifice was constructed in 1844 as the main church of the city.

The Plovdiv Roman Stadium is among the largest Roman structures in the Balkans. The massive edifice is 180 long and had a capacity of over 30,000. It is believed that it was built during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211).

Today, the stadium is located in the centre of the city, under the main trade centres. Only part of the edifice can be observed from the Dzhumayata Square, the larger portion is still underground. Further excavation would be very difficult and costly.

The stadium is one of the many Roman remains in the city which include the best preserved Theatre in the Balkans; the ruins of the Agora; a second theatre; remains of an aqueduct, temples and villas with some magnificent frescoes.

The Plovdiv Antique theater is situated in the city center of Plovdiv. The Theater stands between the south-western slope of the Dzhambaz Tepe and the Taxim tepe hill within the old town, and is a major tourist attraction for travelers coming to the area.

The theatre was built in the 2nd century AD under the orders of Trajan the Roman Emperor at this time, and is one of the many surviving Roman constructions in Bulgaria today.

Built with around 7,000 seats, each section of seating had the names of the city quarters engraved on the benches so the citizens at the time knew where they were to sit. The theater was damaged in the 5th century AD by Atilla the Hun.

The theater was only found in the early 1970s due to a landslide, this caused a major archeological excavation, including the removal of 15 feet of earth covering what was left hidden by the landslide.

„Şahabettin İmaret” Mosque, built in XVth century.

The Cathedral of St Louis (Bulgarian: катедрала „Свети Лудвиг“, katedrala „Sveti Ludvig“) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The cathedral was constructed in the 1850s, during the time of vicar Andrea Canova. The first organ in Bulgaria was installed in the cathedral in 1861, later substituted with a newer and larger one. A fire severely damaged the cathedral in 1931 and destroyed the wood-carved ceiling. The cathedral was reconstructed, with Krastyo Stamatov creating the frescoes and Kamen Petkov being the main architect. The cathedral was once again inaugurated on 8 May 1932. Architecturally, it features an eclectic combination of Neoclassicism and Neo-Baroque.

The belfry was built in 1898 and was equipped with five bells cast in the German city of Bochum, a gift from Pope Leo XIII. A new 12-stop pipe organ was installed in 1991.

Armenian Apostolic Church St. George (Kevork) in the Old Town.

Northern district (Bulgarian: Район Северен) is a district of Plovdiv. The district is located on the northern bank of theMaritsa river.

The Archaeological Museum was established in 1882 as a People’s Museum of Eastern Rumelia. In 1928 the museum was moved to a 19th century edifice on Saedinenie Square built by the famous Plovdiv architect Josef Schnitter. The museum contains a rich collection of Thracian art. The three sections „Prehistory”, „Antiquity” and „Middle Ages” contain precious artifacts from the Paleolithic to the early Ottoman period (15th-16th centuries). The famous Panagyurishte treasure is part of the museum’s collection.(Thracian treasure. It is dated from the 4th-3rd centuries BC, and is thought to have been used as a royal ceremonial set by the Thracian king Seuthes III)

The museum is situated at the north-eastern side of „Saedinenie” square, which is located to the north of „6 Septemvri” avenue, which crosses the town West-East. You can get to the Museum by bus № 20 from the Central railway station in Plovdiv or by bus № 99 from „Philipovo” railway station.

Source: Wikipedia

Travel journal

 

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Pancharevo (Bulgaria)

 

 

For bigger size click on the map

 

Pancharevo (Bulgarian: Панчарево) is a suburban district located in the south-eastern parts of the Capital Municipality. As of 2006 it has 26,000 inhabitants. It is the largest region in Sofia with total area of 364,7 km². It includes the largest artificial lake in Bulgaria, the Iskar Dam as well as Lake Pancharevo and Pasarel Reservoir.

The districts offers excellent conditions for relax and tourism for the citizens of the capital. The three large dams have nice spots for fishing, camping and boat trips. There are many historical sights from the Middle Ages which include the ruins of the Urvich fortress which was a sight of a desperate and unsuccessful battle against the Turkish invaders in the late 14th century. There are many monasteries and chapels, some of which lie in ruins since the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Village of Pancharevo is located 12 km southeast of the city center of Sofia, along Samokovsko shosse Blvd. It lies at 700 m. above sea level between Vitosha and Lozen mountains, and at the end of Pancharevo gorge of the Iskar River. In PancharevoVitoshka Bistritsa River, sloping steeply from the highest parts of the mountain flows into Lake Pancharevo.

In Pancharevo and its environs have remained significant traces of the Roman Empire. Then it was built mineral bath which had seven pools. There is reason to believe that both the springs in Sofia and in Pancharevo has practiced the cult of the god-physician Asklepius and the nymphs, as both places were found fragments of bas-relief of three nymphs. Over bath Gradishteto in the area found the remains of Roman buildings and security fortress designed to keep the barbarian invasions of the access routes and Serdica Iskar Gorge, in the direction of Samokov, but unfortunately no more extensive archeological studies are performed later in area.

Pancharevo was first mentioned in the 16th-century Urvich Collection as ПАНЧАР, ПАНЧАРЄВѠ, ПАНИЧАРЬ. Those early references allow linguists to derive the name from the noun pan(i)char, „bowl maker”, itself from the noun panitsa („bowl”). Panitsa might be a geographical term referring to a concave place.

Source: Wikipedia

Travel journal

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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 (www.getika.com)

Sveshtari royal tomb below Ginina Mogila Mound - 4th - 3th century BC (www.getika.com)

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)