Bulgaria. It’s -15C when we arrive in Sofia. My first meeting with the city is thus a rather frosty one; however, my soon-to-be Bulgarian friends know how to put on a programme, involving merry rounds of Rakia, dance, music, etc. I am on this trip called #CreativeBulgaria (check out our hashtag for even more colourful impressions from this country of a kind!) which has been organised by charming local lady Yonka Bakardhzieva-Agalova. Yonka, the Municipality of Gabrovo, Sofia, Plovdiv, Troyan, Veliko Tarnovo and all her travel partners in the private & public sector of tourism in Bulgaria have made it their mission to showcase the best of “Creative Bulgaria” to our travel team of a good dozen members from three continents. It is a wonderful trip full of cross-cultural experiences dipped into the essence of what Bulgaria is about: Hospitality at every turn. And truly multicultural at that: Countless people, kings & rulers, building styles & religions have marked the country surrounded by Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any photographs inside Boyana Church; the same is true for the inside of the Roman Rotunda, today the Church of the Holy St George. This building is perhaps the most well-preserved building in Serdica, a central part of Sofia, and dates back to the 4th century AD. That’s 1.600 years of age, if you do the maths! Incredible. I stand in awe, looking at what still appears to be quite a solid brick church dome to me. Earthquakes, foreign invasions, countless building periods around, and this church is still standing. I recall having visited Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, also around as old, or another magnificent Rotunda Church in Thessaloniki. Check this out.
… there are, of course, many more building sites worth visiting, such as the National Theatre in its sweet Renaissance style, the Golden Domed Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky, or the largest Turkish Mosque of Bulgaria.
Personally, I have grown especially fond of the many small towns & villages of Bulgaria, which we have visited as part of this #CreativeBulgaria trip.
Do stay tuned for more, as I will take you to Troyan, Veliko Tarnovo as well as Gabrovo before advising you to visit Plovdiv. This city in southeastern Bulgaria will be European Capital of Culture in 2019, and is thus especially worth a journey.
Disclaimer: I have been invited by Yonka Bakardhzieva-Agalova as well as the cities of Gabrovo, Sofia, Plovdiv, Troyan and Veliko Tarnovo on this #CreativeBulgaria trip. All opinions are my own.