The Top 10 Places to visit in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is just buzzing with so many fantastic attractions! From its beautiful forests and mountain ranges to the sandy beaches of the Black Sea, there is so much to explore. The country is rich in historic culture with fortresses, monasteries and churches. So if you are planning a visit, why not get some inspiration from the top ten attractions listed:
The Rila Monastery is Bulgaria’s largest and most famous monastery and the site dates back to the 10th century, though most of what is on view today is from the 19th century, when the site was rebuilt following a devastating fire. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
Situated amongst a cluster of odd shaped rocks, the Belogradchik Fortress is one of Bulgaria’s top attractions and also the most famous. Originally built by the Romans, it was later expanded by the Bulgarians and Turks. It is quite a haunting site - with the fortress having been the site of many terrible battles and brutal executions.
This church is one of country’s most fascinating places and is UNESCO-listed. The inside boasts some of the most spectacular medieval artefacts in Europe. It is definitely worth making the effort to see. Do take note that entry to the frescoes is limited and by guided tour only - so do ensure you purchase your tickets from the nearby Boyana Church Museum.
Baba Vida Fortress
This is probably the best-preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria. It was first built in the 10th century and has withstood plenty of attacks and sieges during its lifetime. Its actual name (Baba Vida) refers to three Bulgarian princesses, two of whom married and spent their inheritance but the last princes stayed single and built this stunning castle.
This historic medieval monastery dates back to the 9th century AD. It is perched on top of a high mountain, with stunning panoramic views across the region. It boasts amazing wood carvings, stained glass windows and elaborate murals, some of which date back to the 15th century.
Tomb of Kazanlack
The tomb of Kazanlack is an ancient burial site which goes back to the 4th century BC. It holds Bulgaria's best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period. The murals are stunning; displaying horses and couples embracing. Also, there are other tombs from this era located nearby which are worth exploring.
Of course the capital of Bulgaria is Sofia, but originally Pliska was the medieval capital. It was the main city of the First Bulgarian Empire from 681AD until 893AD. The main attraction is the church known as the Big Basilica. The ruins are spread over 23 square kilometres, so be sure to pack comfy shoes!
The ruins of Perperikon are well worth visiting – dating back to 5000BC. Perperikon housed the Temple of Dionysus, known for being the place of great prophets. One of these being Alexander the Great. Various empires have occupied Perperikon over the centuries, most of them leaving their mark. You will see remains of public buildings, tombs, houses, altars and much more.
Situated in the city of Veliko Tarnovo, this medieval fortress was the centre piece of the Second Bulgarian Empire from the 12th century AD. It was then captured by the Ottoman Empire during the 14th century. You will enjoy walking around Baldwin’s Tower which offers panoramic views across the region.
This is one of the oldest mosques in Europe and dates back to as far as the 14th century. Services are still held at here, so do be sure to check in advance to find a good visiting time! It is also a good idea to visit the ancient city of Plovdiv, steeped in history and includes a medieval Roman amphitheatre.