Burgas and Beyond: A Traveler’s Odyssey

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30 Known and Unknown Facts That Make Burgas Captivating

  • Burgas is the largest city in Southeastern Bulgaria. It is in the eastern part of the Burgas Plain, at the westernmost point of the Black Sea. It is surrounded by water on three sides – to the west, northeast, and southwest by three lakes – Burgas, Atanasovsko, and Mandrensko. And to the east is the sea.
  • Burgas is 360 km from Sofia, 255 km from Plovdiv, and 130 km from Varna. Access to Burgas is extremely easy by water, land, and sea. The port is the largest in the country, and the airport accommodates aircraft from over 46 airlines with flights to 75 destinations.
  • The area around Burgas was inhabited thousands of years before antiquity. The name Burgas comes from the Latin word “burgos,” which translates to tower. According to tradition, the name comes from a Roman milestone placed in the area of today’s port.
  • According to a national radio station initiative, in recent years Burgas has been chosen several times as the ‘Best City to Live in Bulgaria’. The criteria are diverse – economy, ecology, education, quality of life, safety.
  • The beaches of Burgas and the surrounding area are known for their golden sands. For adrenaline enthusiasts, there are opportunities for surfing, kite surfing, and diving. Here, you can play tennis, and there is a skate park. The city operates a good public bicycle rental system, with over 70 km of bicycle lanes and numerous bike stations.
  • Burgas residents and city guests love strolling along Aleksandrovska and Bogoridi Streets, which are pedestrian zones filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, genuine spirit, and laughter.
  • The museums in the city are of interest to tourists. The Regional Historical Museum is the largest in Southeastern Bulgaria. The Petko Zadgorski Art Gallery is one of the oldest in the country. The city’s archaeological museum houses the largest collection in the Balkans of anchors and ship’s spikes used in navigation. The Ethnographic Museum preserves a vast collection of costumes, kukeri masks, and jewelry from Strandzha.
  • Some of the most romantic places in Burgas are said to be the Sea Garden, the casino, and the bridge. In the Sea Garden, there are numerous gazebos and benches overlooking the sea, singing fountains, and restaurants. Its construction began in 1910 by a young gardener, Georgi Duktev, who studied park design in Austria.
  • Iconic to the city is the emblematic Sea Casino, located on the central alley of the Sea Garden. Its construction in 1938 is considered a marvel of its time due to the complexity of the terrain slope. Today, concerts, theatrical performances, film screenings, exhibitions, book presentations, creative workshops, training sessions, festivals, and civil marriages are held here. The building has several terraces, and from the highest one, equipped with binoculars and telescopes, the entire bay can be observed.
  • One of the city’s symbols is the Burgas Bridge. It is a beautiful completion of the Sea Garden, extending nearly 300 meters into the sea and featuring a 22-meter observatory. It attracts tourists not only with its endless view but is also an integral part of the traditions of the biggest Bulgarian holidays – St. Nicholas Day and Epiphany. On December 6, St. Nicholas Day is also celebrated as the holiday of Burgas. It is dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is revered as the deliverer of captives and the patron saint of sailors, travelers, merchants, and bankers. Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian holidays. It is celebrated on January 6 (Yordanovden). According to church ritual, the water is blessed by throwing a cross into the icy waters of the river or sea. Men jump into the water to retrieve it. Whoever catches it will be free from illness for the whole year. According to folk beliefs, if the cross freezes in the water, the year will be fruitful, and the people will be healthy.
  • From the Bridge, you can see the only inhabited island in Bulgaria – St. Anastasia. This is a relatively new tourist destination. The place hides romantic stories, secret tunnels, and legends of pirate treasures. There used to be a monastery here, and even a prison. Its area is about 9 decares and is located 6 km from the coast. It is claimed that it formed after a volcano eruption. Nowadays, you can take a walk there; there is a restaurant, café, amphitheater, temple, museum, and a small hotel. Concerts and festivals are also organized on St. Anastasia. Over the years, the monastery “St. Anastasia the Pharmakolitria (Healer)” has been set on fire several times and attacked by pirates. St. Anastasia the Pharmakolitria is among the few female martyrs honored by both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
  • The cultural program of Burgas is extremely rich. This city never sleeps, especially in the summer when numerous international festivals and competitions are organized. The summer theater is one of the most popular venues in the city during the summer season. The city hosts a seaside film festival, National Literary Contest, International Folklore Festival, art festival, puppet days, biennial for contemporary Bulgarian visual arts, music festivals, and jazz festivals. There’s also an International Competition for the Performance of German and Austrian Music, Metal Fest, Wine and Fish Festival. ‘Burgas and the Sea’ is one of the iconic competitions in the Bulgarian music calendar. Many of the most famous Bulgarian performers have made their first steps on the music scene here. Another interesting event is the SPICE Music Festival.
  • A festival of sand figures is also organized in the Sea Garden of Burgas. Every summer from July to September, enthusiasts of this art form can enjoy the whimsical shapes made of sand in the Sea Garden.
  • In Burgas, besides going to the beach, you can also visit a SPA. Here is the largest open-air therapeutic SPA center in the country. The pools with healing mud and alkali mud are located in the southern part of Atanasovsko Lake. The black mud is a proven remedy for rejuvenating the skin, as well as for relieving and treating various diseases, such as joint and skin diseases, arthritis, herniated discs, gynecological problems. The alkali mud has a pain-relieving and tonic effect. The recommended stay in it is about 20-30 minutes. The SPA center is well known to all residents of Burgas, and in recent years, more and more visitors to the city are becoming acquainted with it. There is parking near the mud and alkali mud pools.
  • They say that Burgas is a unique place for any bird lover. The city is located on one of the busiest bird migration routes in Europe – Via Pontica. In addition to millions of migratory birds such as warblers, gulls, and terns, bee-eaters, hobbies, and other migratory birds, for just one migration season, over 200,000 white storks and more than 150,000 birds of prey from over 30 species pass through. The ‘Poda’ protected area falls within the natural center between the three lakes and the sea. Here is one of the few places in Europe where 315 bird species or 1/4 of all European species have been recorded in an area of barely 1 sq. km. In Poda, you have the opportunity to rent a photo hide for bird watching and photography.
  • Just 14 km from the center of Burgas, you can ‘immerse’ yourself in the bath of Suleiman the Magnificent. The bath of one of the most famous Ottoman rulers is located in the ancient city of Aquae Calidae, discovered near the Burgas Mineral Baths. Next to it are solid remains of the great Roman baths, which are still being studied but can be explored. This place has a millennia-long history. Now it offers opportunities for relaxation and entertainment.
  • In Burgas, you can enjoy anything from seafood to traditional Bulgarian dishes. However, you should not miss the seafood prepared according to old fishermen’s recipes.
  • About 15 km south of the city lies the renowned fishing village of Chengene Skele. It stretches around two canals, dotted with fishing huts and boats. They say here you can taste the most delicious fish soup. Check it out!
  • From Burgas, you can go to Pomorie. It is 14 km away, and besides the sea and beaches, there is a salt museum. It is the only one in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe for salt production through solar evaporation of seawater. It has an exhibition hall and 2.0 hectares of active salt pans.
  • About 35 km away is Nessebar. The city has a rich history dating back more than 3000 years. Nessebar is famous for its well-preserved old town, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • If you’re looking for vibrant nightlife by the sea, Burgas is 36 km away from Sunny Beach. It is a very interesting place on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, preferred by young people from all over Europe.
  • From Burgas to the southernmost point of Bulgaria on the Black Sea – Rezovo, it’s about 95 kilometers. This road is short but can take a terribly long time because it is dotted with interesting places and sights. You will pass through Sozopol, Primorsko, Kiten, Lozenets, Tsarevo, Ahtopol, and Sinemorets. Along the way, you can also visit the picturesque village of Brashlyan. It is an architectural and historical reserve, with preserved authentic houses characteristic of the Strandzha architecture. Many of them are cultural monuments of national significance.
  • Sozopol is 34 km from Burgas. It is the oldest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, an architectural and archaeological reserve. If you decide to take a boat ride, you can reach the mouth of the Ropotamo River where it flows into the sea.
  • On the way to Rezovo, you can visit the Bulgarian Stonehenge – Beglik Tash. This place represents an ancient megalithic Thracian rock sanctuary. It is located on the ridge of Maslen Nos. The enormous rocks with peculiar shapes are famous for the assumption that in ancient times, they were used as a sundial, calendar, and temple. Beglik Tash is also the starting point for several eco-trails leading to the picturesque Saint Paraskeva Bay, Maslen Nos, the Lion’s Head, and the mouth of the Ropotamo River.
  • If you decide to explore different beaches every day from Burgas, there are interesting beaches preferred for their lower development. These include Irakli Beach, Arkutino Beach, and Sinemorets Beach. The latter is located before the border with Turkey. The coastline is picturesque, and the area is unique in that it is inhabited by more than 550 species of plants, over 30 species of freshwater and migratory fish, 40 species of mammals, and around 200 species of birds.
  • The easternmost point of Bulgaria is located at the mouth of the Ruzovska River near the village of Rezovo. It is mostly visited by tourists out of curiosity to see the Turkish coast, which is literally meters away from the Bulgarian one. The village falls within the territory of Strandzha Nature Park.
  • If you’re in Burgas, you cannot miss exploring the areas and villages of Strandzha Park and the secrets of the Strandzha Mountain. The park is the largest protected area in Bulgaria and the largest Bulgarian natural park, covering 1% of the country’s territory. It is also the only one of all 11 protected areas in Bulgaria with access to the sea. Here, you can find the highest percentage of forest cover, the most plant species, and the most invertebrates (with scientists discovering new species almost every year, both for the park and for Bulgaria as a whole, as well as new ones for science).
  • In Strandzha, you can find the famous lagoons of Alepu, Arkutino, Stamopol, and the Devil’s Swamp. One of the interesting natural landmarks in the mountain is the Dokuzak Waterfall. The height of the cascade is not great – about 10 meters, but the wild vegetation around it attracts many tourists.
  • In the park, there is a place called Mishkova Niva, which comprises a complex of sanctuary, two tombs, and a fortress. Legends associated with Apollo and Hercules are told about this place. Nearby, there is a rock complex called the ‘Tomb of Bastet’, which is also associated with the activities of the Thracians in these lands. There is no data on where, how, and why, but for many years, the complex has been designated as the place where the Egyptian goddess Bastet was buried, whose roots, according to historians, were Thracian. Roman traces have also been discovered in the mountain, with the most famous object being the ancient city of Deultum near the modern village of Debelt.
  • At 33 km west of Burgas, you can see the impressive Rusokastro Fortress. It rises on a hill amidst an open field covering an area of 35 hectares. It is believed to have been built in the 5th century AD after Christ to guard Byzantium to the north from Avar tribes. Here, Bulgaria achieved its last major victory over Byzantium in 1332 when Tsar Ivan Alexander defeated the army of Andronikos III.
  • A special ritual dance you can see and experience in Burgas and its surroundings is nestinarstvo (fire dancing), a dance with bare feet on burning coals accompanied by authentic music. It is associated with the cult of the Sun God. In 2009, it was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Nestinarstvo is inherited within families. It is said that the contact between the coals and the bare feet is very brief. The nestinari step quickly on the surface without delving into the hotter coals below. After walking on the heated coals, the nestinari have no traces of burns on their feet. Today, the ritual is best preserved in the village of Bulgari, where every year on June 3, people from all over the world gather to immerse themselves in the magic of Strandzha. In many seaside (and not only) establishments, fire dancing is organized as an attraction for tourists.

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