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I started my first trip in Stara Zagora, together with my friends who live there. The city is located almost in the middle of the country. You get there by bus for about four hours from Sunny Beach.


This is Stara Zagora



A view from the balcony of my friends’ flat: you see Sredna Gora Mountains.



In front you see one of the districts of Stara Zagora



From left to right: Pencho, Mariana, I, their son Tenko and his girlfriend Zlatka



Now with Stephan





The brown liquid is self-made schnapps, called "Domaschna Rakia".



When Bulgarians drink they eat small appetizers, called “Meze”. This can be nuts, yellow cheese, salami, ham, grilled meat or potatoes.


The battles for Stara Zagora during the Russo-Turkish war (1877/78) were really hard. A monument was built to remind of the historical events, which brought freedom to the city.









A glance at Stara Zagora



Our first trip went through the Shipka Pass and Gabrovo to a village called Kakrina, situated near Lovech. On the way back we stopped in Pleven.



The entire route



Stara Zagora - Kakrina



Kakrina - Pleven



Kakrina won notoriety as the site of the Kakrina Inn (Kakrinsko hanche), where on 27 December 1872 the most significant Bulgarian liberation fighter Vasil Levski was captured by the Turks. The inn is nowadays a museum.



The former inn



Levski’s monument in Kakrina





Below: “The one who dies in a fight for freedom never dies!”



Some of the hardest battles during the Russo-Turkish war (1877/78), beside the one on the Shipka Pass, were these for Pleven. After five months of siege, on 10 December 1877 the 43,000-strong Turkish army of Osman Nuri Pasha finally failed against the Russian army around the town. Pleven’s battle remains in the history as one of the most important battles for the Liberation of Bulgaria after nearly 500 years of Ottoman rule.

A large monument, more commonly known as Pleven Panorama, keeps memories of the battles there. The exhibition consists of paintings with integrated original objects of the former events – weapons, items of daily use, dressing material etc. A fascinating sight that brings close to the past. Highly recommended!



Just a very small part of the Panorama



In front of the monument



A starting point for our second trip again was Stara Zagora. We first went to Oborishte, then to Panagyurishte and Koprivshtitsa and then came back to Stara Zagora. This trip brought us to the main sites of the legendary April Uprising of 1876. The way back, always along the Balkan Mountains, is wonderful.


The entire tour: the “ellipse”, the circle on very right is Stara Zagora



The rectangle bottom left is Panagyurishte, the circle on the left above it – Oborishte and the circle on the right - Koprivshtitsa



First we drove on the highway to Sofia. Before Kostenets we headed aside to the north to the Sredna Gora mountains and then finally reached Oborishte. This route is very scenic too!

Oborishte became famous for the fact that from 14 to 16 April 1876 the first Bulgarian Grand National Assembly was held there.  During these days the decision for the proclamation of the April Uprising was taken.


This memorial stone reminds us of the first Bulgarian Grand National Assembly.





Panagyurishte is located about 10 km away of Oborishte. It was one of the centres of the April Uprising. But first of all we saw a treasure, dating back to a much earlier era:


We were lucky! This fantastic golden treasure of the Thracians, 2 300 years old, wasn’t on a world tour and was exceptionally exhibited in its home town.






Of course, there are lots of museums and monuments in the town, which remind of the April Uprising.





The monument for the National heroine Rayna Knyaginya, who had sewn the flag of the April Uprising.



“Freedom or Death!” You see a copy of the flag; the original was destroyed by the Turks.



Rayna hid there from the Turks



The town is known as the place where the first shot in the April Uprising was fired. It’s also famous for its authentic architecture from the National revival period. Below I publish only two pictures. More about Koprivshtitsa you can learn in “Excursions 2007” (scroll down to “Koprivshtitsa – The Spirit of the History”)






On the day after I left back for Sunny Beach by bus.



I did this trip together with Milena and Benno. They know a taxi driver who made us a very good offer.



Our tour from Sunny Beach



The big circle in the bottom is Sliven, the small one – Zheravna and the middle sized one – Kotel.


We drove from Sunny Beach around Tankovo and through Kableshkovo. After Burgas we took the main road E 773. Then we followed it in direction to Sofia and drove through the towns Aitos and Karnobat. Just before Sliven we turned north and drove through Balkan mountains to Kotel direction.

I’ve written much about history, that’s why I publish here a few landscape pictures from the Balkan Mountains. Bulgarians call it also Stara planina (Old Mountain). The name “Balkan” comes from Turkish and means “a forested mountain chain”.



A View at Zheravna





Benno, Milena and I, at the background - Zheravna



Now with our driver



A monument for a peasant rebellion during the Second Bulgarian Empire






This time I didn’t take pictures of Zheravna. You can see a lot of photos in “Excursions 2006-2+3”, if you scroll down to “Trip “The Blue Stones of Sliven!”

We left Zheravna and went further to Kotel, where we had lunch.



The municipal in Kotel





The old girls’ school



A side street


And now again little history: Plenty of revival leaders against the Turkish rule were born in Kotel. One of the best known is Georgi Rakovski.



The museum



The Georgi Rakovski’s sarcophagus


It should be also said, that during the political transition in Bulgaria the industry in Kotel has been completely destroyed. I really don’t have an idea what the people there are living from.





This cleaning facility for carpets and (table-) clothes is still at work.








After we indulged ourselves in a restaurant in Sliven we went back to Sunny Beach.



I made this trip with my friends Snezha and Christo from Burgas. We started it from Sunny Beach, passed through Burgas and then through the middle of Strandza Mountains we reached the Turkish border and Malko Tarnovo.




Strandza Mountains are not very high; they reach only 500 m height. In this case we could say it’s a “cozy” mountain.





With Snezha



With Christo


Our first stop was Brashlyan, a small village about 10 km away of Malko Tarnovo. There’re many old houses there.




A hotel complex with a restaurant






The hotel complex is located in a very quiet place and for that reason it’s a good place for relaxation.




The area of Malko Tarnovo remained under Turkish rule even after the Russo-Turkish War 1877/78 because of the geopolitical demands of the Great Powers at that time. The region was finally added to Bulgaria during the both Balkan wars in 1912 and in 1913. In 1903 there was a rebellion against Turkish foreign rule, which was brutally suppressed.

There are pictures inside the village museum, which remind us of this period. There’s also an old school building.



The old church with a museum





The students used to sit here



Teaching materials: a sliding rule and a wax tablet



The teacher used to sit here



A monument for a liberation fighter and the Uprising of 1903




After the lunch we had in the local restaurant we went to visit the Turkish border



Only 1 km to Turkey!



The boundary


On the way to Malko Tarnovo:






Malko Tarnovo has a population of about 6000 inhabitants and was the center of the uprising in 1903. There’re a lot of houses in Strandza-style dating back to the time of Bulgarian National revival. There’re also ruins from Thracian times. To that time there was a Thracian fortress and settlement.











From the Thracian times





After we had seen Malko Tarnovo, we drove back to Sunny Beach.

 
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