Apr 18


Bulgaria has quite a few tourist attractions to offer and Nessebar is one of the most important ones. The town is a located in the Bourgas region, at about 120 km south of Balchik. One aspect worth mentioning is the fact that the town is situated on a peninsula which measures 850 m in length and 350 m in width and that access to Nessebar is done through an isthmus.



The region undergoes constant change due to the fact that it is located at the seaside and the Black Sea enmeshes the land little by little. Just to understand the process, the peninsula had lost a third of its territory to the sea. In fact, the ruins of the ancient fortress are still visible under water at an 80 m distance from the shore.


The town dates back 3,000 years. The original settlement was dwelt by Thracians and bore the name Menebria/Mesembria. It is on the ruins of the ancient establishment that Nessebar was constructed. The town was an important port throughout the Turkish domination over the region and after it freed itself, it turned into a small fishing town.

In 1956, Nessebar was declared an architectural and archeological reservation. The town comprises a mixture of archeological styles: the ancient ruins of the fortified walls and gates date from the 3rd and 4th centuries, the churches from the 5th and 6th centuries, the cathedrals are from the medieval period (10th and 11th centuries), and the sixty houses were all built in the Renaissance period.



You can imagine the special tableau these differently constructed edifices create. Legend has it that throughout its existence, Nessebar has had more than forty churches. However, the historical data and archeological discoveries point solely to 26 of them.
Tourist Attractions

Nessebar still bears the imprint of the ancient city and caries on the cultural legacy bestow upon it by the passage of time. The tourists who want to “go back in time” have only to visit the four museums available in Nessebar: the Archeology Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, St. Stephan Church (which has frescos from the 17th and 19th centuries) and the St. Spas Church where visitors can admire frescos from the 17th century.



All the cultures that have passed through this region have left their mark on Nessebar, but the beauty of it all is that these pieces from the past combine harmoniously to form a whole. But even so, it is still noticeable how the region underwent transformations due to the different developmental stages it passed through.

The architectural styles specific for the Balkan area as well as for the entire region east of the Mediterranean Sea are reflected in the edifices erected in Nessebar which combine elements from the medieval and ancient times as well as from the transit period from the Middle to the Late Bronze Period.



Religious motifs are also visible in the architectural design of the buildings. These date back from the medieval time, but some have been altered so as to comprise the Byzantine elements.

So if you are wondering what is it that you can visit in Nesebar, you should know that the list is long. You can see the ruins of ancient fortifications, houses of worship from Antiquity, churches from the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries), all encompassed within the boundaries of Nessebar. This goes to prove that the town is a living organism, having evolved in time but still bearing the traces of the past.



The Cultural Heritage Law impedes anyone from destroying the structure of the town, which means that constructions in the region are strictly forbidden if they taint the overall cultural ensemble. But even if this law was adopted, several interventions took place in the 19th century which were detrimental to this unique urbanization tableau.

More so, the measures adopted in order to bring stability to the seashore of the peninsula were also out of place. However, these had an important purpose and that was to hinder the Black Sea’s advancement towards the land.



Nessebar impresses through its authenticity. Nothing is changed in the architectural design of the edifices. Interventions are performed solely for maintenance and stabilization purposes. The architectural sites are opened for visitations and while this is good news for visitors it also has negative implications because the sites are prone to deterioration and this is conducted at a faster pace if they are used extensively for touristic purposes.

As long as specific conditions are imposed and the area is adequately prepared for tourists, the sites will be preserved better and visitors can appreciate them for a longer period of time.

Apr 13

The Castle of Queen Mary – Balchik (Castelul Reginei Maria)

The Castle of Queen Mary, which is located in Bulgaria, in Balchik town, has been constructed back in 1937 by the ruler of Romania, Queen Mary – as it is obvious from the name given to the castle.


The construction actually took 11 years to complete but it has worth the wait as the result is mesmerizing. And this doesn’t refer solely to the caste itself, but to its surroundings as well, which are an intrinsic part of the castle.


According to the historical facts, Queen Mary was taken aback by the breathtaking beauty of this region as it was a natural landscape, untouched by human hands. At that time, the region, which was called the Quadrate, was under Romanian ruling.


Story has it that the queen could no longer bear the unfaithfulness of her husband King Ferdinand of Romania (with whom she married in order to form a political allegiance), so she turned to the bay for refuge. Here she gave order to the architects Amerigo and Augustino, of Italian descend, to construct the castle under discussion. The surroundings were transformed into beautiful gardens by the Swiss florist Jul Joni.


The estate contains, besides the main castle, several villas where the guests of the Queen could rest undisturbed, a botanical garden with waterfalls and streams, Roman baths, and a chapel.


The entrance to this complex is done through a Sentinel Post which in ancient time had a lampion shaped as a candle above its gate in order to light the path for those returning late to the castle. This construction was strategically placed as all the 4 roads were visible from here: the paths leading to the Triumph Vila, to the Divine Garden, to the sea and to the castle.

Upon entering the estate, you are embraced by the luxurious vegetation and a state of peacefulness takes hold of your being. Access to different parts of the domain is done through stairs carved in rock. The place is vast so tourists have to pay attention to the direction they are taking so as not so miss certain interesting objectives. In fact, there are maps placed every now and then which allow tourists to make out their current location and to verify where they have to go next.

What is striking to most visitors is the fact that the estate combines different types of architectural designs but the explanation for this is quite simple: Queen Mary wanted to create here a replica of the Holy Lands. So, different cultural elements are harmoniously combined to create one-of-a-kind edifices.

On a closer analysis, you can observe Oriental, Thracian, Roman or Christian symbols, all coming together as a statement for the equality between people and nations. This is the principle which guided the Queen’s life and the construction represents a way to praise this equality.


In the middle of the garden rests a pond shaped as a crucifix, created after the Byzantine style. This symbol had different connotations in ancient times: it either referred to the Sun God, to the god of rain, or to the 4 elements which were used when the world was created.

One thing that always impresses the visitors is the 9 m long waterfall which makes them stand their ground for a long time, making it impossible to take their eyes away from it. It seems impossible that such lavish vegetation is found so close to the seaside. You can literally turn your head to the other direction and gaze upon the blue water of the Black Sea.

Right above the waterfall, there is a flower garden with diverse blossoms which creates a vibrant and colorful scenery.


The park contains more than 3,000 rare species of plants and flowers. You should know that the botanical garden is unique in all of Europe due to the vast collection of cactus plants it has.

The Castle of Queen Mary can be described as an oasis. It offers a wonderful insight into the architectural designs of different cultures. The gardens offer a state of tranquility through the beautiful imagery it conveys to the visitor.