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Area: 110,993.6 sq km
Population: 7,973, 673 (2001)
Capital city: Sofia
Official language: Bulgarian
Alphabet: Cyrillic
Religion: There is freedom of religious confessions. Traditional religion in the Republic of Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox Christianity
National holiday: March 3, the day of the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman domination (1878)
Monetary unit: the Bulgarian Lev
Administrative division: 28 regions, named after their respective regional centres.
State system: a parliamentary republic with a one-chamber parliament (National Assembly), consisting of 240 national representatives, elected for a four-year term of service. The head of state of the republic is the President, elected for a five-year term of service. The Council of Ministers is the main body of executive power.
Relief: most diverse. Average height above sea level 470 m. Some 31.5% of the country territory is plain (up to 200 m above sea level), 41% are lowlands and hilly regions (from 200 to 600 m above sea level), and 27.5% are mountains (from 600 to more than 1,600 m above sea level).
Climate: moderate continental with Black Sea influence in the east and Mediterranean in the south.
Waters: rivers (main rivers are Danube, Maritsa, Mesta, Strouma, Iskar, Yantra); warm and cold mineral springs (more than 600); lakes coastal (some with curative mineral mud) and of glacial origin (in the Rila and Pirin mountains).
Plant and animal world: extremely diverse. An Act on the Protected Territories is operating in Bulgaria, aimed at the preservation of the country flora and fauna. It has specified the following categories in the country: a national and nature park, a reserve and a tended reserve, a natural sight, a protected locality.
Economy: Bulgaria has been an associated member of the European Union (EU) since 1992. In 1997 an agreement was signed with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for economic stabilization and for the carrying through of economic reforms in the country. A currency board was introduced. The national monetary unit has been referred to the EURO. A structural reform is underway aimed at an economic growth, a functioning market economy and at paving the way for foreign investments in the country.
Transport: railway, automobile, air and water.
The coat-of-arms of the Republic of Bulgaria is a rampant gold crowned lion against a dark-red background in the form of a shield. Above the shield there is a big crown, whose original shape was that of the crowns of medieval Bulgarian rulers, with five crosses and one other cross, separately, over the crown itself. The shield is supported by two golden crowned rampant lions, facing the shield from the left and right heraldic side. They are standing on two crossed oak tree twigs with acorns. Inscribed in golden letters onto a white strip with a three-colour edging, placed under the shield across the ends

VARNA is the largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, known as the seaside capital of Bulgaria and the queen of the Black Sea. Located by the side of the big Varna Bay, 134 km north of Bourgas and 469 km from Sofia, this is the third biggest city in Bulgaria. This lovely and up-to-date seaside resort has an international airport and a busy port. West of the city is the Varna Lake, which is of importance for transport, providing the seaside connection between the Ports of Varna and Varna-West.

Varna is a city of millennial history. On the small cape, where the seaport is now, had once existed an ancient Thracian settlement of fishermen. The ancient settlement of Odessos came into being here in Antiquity, founded by Hellenic colonists. At a later date, this was an important Roman regional centre with independent government and large-scale construction. The name Varna was mentioned during the 8th century. It had been brought by the old Bulgarians and had the same meaning as the Thracian Odessos (a place next to water). Varna became lastingly established within the bounds of the Bulgarian state in the early 13th century under Tsar Kaloyal. During the 13th-14th century it was a big and well-appointed port – it engaged in busy trade with Venice and Genoa. The town has also been associated with the name of Polish King Wladislaw Varnenchik, who perished in the historic battle at Varna on November 10, 1444, when together with Janos Huniadi, a chieftain of Transvaal, he headed the campaigns of Poles, Chechs, Bulgarian, Romanians, Croats and Hungarians against the Turkish invasion in Europe. After the liberation from Ottoman rule (1878), it became the most important Bulgarian port.
Landmarks. More than 150 cultural and historical monuments of different historical periods have been preserved in the territory of Varna. Most outstanding among them are remains of Roman thermae (2nd-3rd century), the cathedral church of the Holy Virgin (1883-1886), the church of St Athanasius (13th century) with interesting frescos and an exhibition of a collection of prints, lithographs, church service books from the Bulgarian Revival Period, etc. The Dolphinarium can be visited in the Marine Garden (with an interesting performance), the Planetarium of Nicholas Copernicus (part of an astronomical compound), the Summertime Theatre, the Festival Complex(at the entrance to the garden), the Museum of the Black Sea, the Aquarium. Among Varna’s frequented spots are also its remarkable museums, featuring among which are: the Archaeology Museum(with the unique collection of finds from the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis),the Museum of History of Medicine (the only one in the Balkans), the Museum of Maritime Economy, the National Museum of the Navy(in the Marine Garden), where Kor Karoli yacht is on show, on board which Captiain Georgi Georgiev made the first Bulgarian round-the-world voyage (1976-1977), included in the Guinness book of records, the Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of the National Revival Period, the Museum of the History of Varna, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Tourism, the Wladislaw Varnenchik Museum Park, the Art Gallery, etc.
The Asparouhov Bridge in Varna is the longest in Bulgaria (2 km). It connects the city centre with the residential quarters of Asparouhovo and Galata. The local club of extreme sports organizes bungy jumps here. The palace of sports and cultureis on the way to the resorts of Zlatni Pyassatsi, St St Konstantin and Helena and Albena. Competitions are organized in it in more than 30 sports disciplines, theatre and other performances and concerts are shown, many exhibitions are staged.

Cape Galata (the southernmost point of the Varna Bay) is 6 km south of Varna. Southwest of the cape is the Galata residential district of Varna, which is also a resort centre.

The Euxinograd Palace is about 5 km northeast of Varna, by the seashore amidst a beautiful park of numerous exotic plants. Initially, it served as the summertime residence of Knyaz Alexander I Battenberg (1879-1886), and later it became a government residence. It has a port, a wine cellar, a medicinal and a sports complex. Entry into the residence is restricted, whereby visitors are admitted only in certain days and hours.

Some 17 km west of Varna (by the side of the road to Devnya) is the Pobitite Kamuni natural sight, one of the most frequented in the country. These are unique rock formations, whose age has been determined to be about 50 million years. The hollow rock columns up to 7 m high with a diameter of 2 m have a sand and limestone covering and are located amidst sands. Numerous theories have been brought forward regarding their origin. The impressive landscape serves as a natural backdrop of various film productions. Right by the side of the road is a small, improvised museum.
The Valley of Kamchiya River is among the most beautiful places along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The distance from Varna to the mouth of the river is about 25 km (along the motorway). The Sofia-Varna railway line passes along part of the valley of the Kamchiya. Close to the mouth itself, the seaside resort complex of Kamchiya has been built with hotels, villas and restaurants. Those spending their holiday here enjoy the magnificent natural scenery, a beautiful and convenient strip of beaches with fine golden sand. But the real adventure is a voyage along the low reaches of the Kamchiya, spreading its waters in the fairy tale dense forest, forming at some places green tunnels over the river.


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