"Bulgaria -- Land of Folklore" Bulgaria by drolkar

Bulgaria Travel Guide: 6,160 reviews and 17,956 photos

During Communist times, Bulgaria was known in the eastern bloc for its Black Sea resorts and rich folkloric culture -- most notably, folk dances and singing.

Bulgaria's history can be traced back to the Thracians, who were described with amazement by Herotodus in 450 BC for their gold work (the "Thracian Treasure"), ecstatic religion celebrating gods linked to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, and fire dance ("Nestinarstvo"). The ancient fire dance tradition lives on in the folk dance performances of today, which often include performers dancing with bare feet on hot coals!

Greek, Persian and Macedonian influences came to bear over the succeeding centuries, but from the 5th century onwards Bulgaria's population was dominated by Slavic peoples. These Slavs later merged with warlike "Bulgar" nomads from Central Asia. Bulgaria grew into Europe's main center of Slavonic culture and literacy with the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet by two southern Slavic missionaries, Cyril and Methodius. The Slavic language that they created was even recognized by the Vatican as the fourth official language of the church.

In 1185 the Second Bulgarian Kingdom was proclaimed in the city of Veliko Turnovo on the occasion of a successful popular uprising against Byzantium, and this period is considered to be an ideal one in Bulgarian history from a cultural standpoint. Bulgaria's borders were its largest ever during this 100-year period, stretching from the Black Sea in the east to the Adriatic Sea in the west, and from the Aegean Sea in the south up to the Carpathian Mountains in present-day Romania. This era of Bulgarian prosperity was interrupted, however, by the arrival of first the Mongols and then the Ottoman Turks, whose rule lasted up until Bulgaria's Liberation in 1878 and the consequent Unification of the country (1880).

The time that elapsed between Bulgarian independence in 1880 and World War II was characterized by intense intrigue on the Balkan Peninsula -- namely, the Balkan War and World War I. During the Second World War, Bulgaria under Tsar Boris succeeded in saving its entire Jewish population from the Nazis, as well as helping other countries' Jews to escape.

Post-World War II, Bulgaria became a member of the communist bloc, and was considered to be the Soviet satellite closest to the Kremlin. The falling of the Iron Curtain has now provided us in the West with a new and rare opportunity to explore Bulgaria, with its culture that is thousands of years old.

<b>Update as of July 2001 !!</b> Bulgaria has now become the first (and only) Eastern European nation to welcome back its pre-Communist monarch... as <b>Prime Minister</b>! It will be interesting indeed to follow the development of events there with <b>Simeon Saxe-Coburg</b>...

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  • Last visit to Bulgaria: Sep 1996
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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