Varna, capital of the Black Sea Coast
Varna is the largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and is situated at the same latitude as Monaco.
The city of Varna is situated at the beautiful Bay of Varna, 470 km east of Sofia. The city is set like an amphitheatre and follows the curves of the magnificent bay. It is surrounded by numerous gardens, vineyards and deciduous groves. Almost the whole area is occupied by private country houses and small farms. The city is a regional administrative centre.
Varna has a history that can be traced back for thousands of years. Due to its favourable location and panorama of almost 270 degrees the small cape was inhabited by an ancient Thracian tribe.
Varna was finally liberated from Ottoman rule and became the most important Bulgarian sea port. At the end of the 19th century it was connected to Sofia by railway. Many factories opened, and industrial fishing was developing. Varna quickly established itself as a major seaside resort as well, enhanced by European style architecture. Holiday homes became popular and Varna became a favourite place for the Bulgarian cultural elite.
Varna became the main centre of the northern Black Sea coast and a starting point for the design and building of the numerous resorts around.
The Roman Spas – built in the 2nd Century during the reign of the Emperor Antony Pii and abandoned in the 5th century during the barbarian invasion. After much restoration they are now frequently visited by tourists and visitors to the city.
The Roman Bath – dates back to the 3rd Century. Extensive interior in marble. Nowadays it is a sight of touristic and archaeological interest.
The Holy Mother Cathedral – an emblem of the seaside capital of Bulgaria. At the very centre of the city across from the theatre. Buses start from the square in front of it to all the vicinities and to the airport. A Revival craftsman built the church in 1866 in the style of Petersburg architecture. The woodcarving of the altar and the Episcopal stall are amde by masters from the Debur school, Macedonia. The central wall paintings were completed in 1950.
The Sea Garden – these most stunning gardens are a must-see. Dating from the 19th Century, full of wide boulevards and with an amphitheatre. A really popular place for locals and tourists. The Sea Gardens also include a planetarium, playgrounds for children and even a small train to get around.
The open-air theatre – a place, where various activities are held. These include the Varna Days of Music, the world famous International Ballet Competition and Varna Summer – a trienalle of arts.
The Dolphinarium (Show-House) – one of the favourite attractions for children. Regular performances and demonstrations with the dolphins, including performances by mime artists, clowns and actors.
The Museum of the National Revival – housed in a building from 1861, which was proclaimed a cultural monument. Patriotic citizens and scholars started the museum exhibition in 1959 and it has been enriched and extended many times. One impressive exhibition shows the struggle for religious enlightenment and national independence and the epic battles during the Russian-Turkish War of Liberation.
The Ethnographic Museum – set in a Revival house from the 19th century. A typical arrangement of a house of Varna at that time is displayed. Many kinds of jewellery, as well as clothing, formal national costumes, everyday life items and goods manufactured goods in the city and its vicinities.
The Museum of Nature and Science was founded in 1960 and it displays species typical of the Bulgarian flora and fauna. Geological and speleological miniature models show the stages of the formation of the lithosphere. There is a small board with the main kinds of stones and minerals. The exponents are displayed in three specialised halls – geology, flora and fauna.
The Aquarium and the Black Sea Museum – first opened in 1932, the first and the only marine biological station in the country. Hundreds of fish species are gathered here: molluscs, actinides, crabs, periwinkles as well as species from fresh water rivers.
Varna’s festivals are large in number, the most popular of them being:
– International Choir Gathering at the end of May
– International Theatre Holidays, part of Varna’s Summer Festival in June
– International Gathering of Orchestras and Classical Music Ensemble, July
– Jam Session in July and August
– Folk Festival with international participants in August
– International Ballet Competition, August
– “Love is Folly” Cinema International Festival in September
Varna offers a virtually unlimited number of accommodation facilities. A well known joke says that in summer Varna grows to the proportions of Sofia whereas Sofia shrinks to the dimensions of Varna. There are several Accommodation Bureaus in the city which all share current information. Luxury hotels through to small bed and breakfasts abound to suit every pocket.
Varna’s most popular luxurious and offering special cuisine restaurants are: the Indian Maharany Restaurant, Maggy Restaurant and the Moussala Restaurant with a Viennise Cafe, the Paraklisa (the Chapel) Restaurant, the FEB Restaurant, the Morska Sirena (The Mermaid) Restaurant, a chain of restaurants Mustang Food Bar, Happy Bar and Grill chain, Loza Restaurant, Morsko Konche (Sea horse) Restaurant, and the Galateya Restaurant. Numerous pubs and tavernas are located throughout the city, many open 24 hours. If you don’t want to eat out, you’ll find many supermarkets and markets.
There are a great number of cafes, especially along the beach and in the Sea Garden Park where fish and seafood are offered. Every day you can buy freshly caught fish from the local fishermen at the sea station.
Internal flights every day from Sofia throughout the year. Sea buses to Balchik, Sunny Beach, Nessebur and Bourgas. Rail connection to all major towns in the country, with express service to Sofia and Plovdiv. Central bus station with services to all regions of Bulgaria and beyond (Athens and Istanbul).
The famous village of Vinitsa is situated 10 km north-east of Varna.It is a favourite place where the locals often go for picnics or walks.
Cape Galata is very attractive for a lot of tourists who seek solitude amidst nature. It is situated in the distant part of the Galata Quarter. There are wide meadows with deciduous groves and natural water springs with drinking water, and rocks convenient for fishing and cockle catching.
The Romantika Resort includes several hotels. It offers facilities for all kinds of water sports, cruises and voyages by local water transport.
Around the Asparuh Bridge near the quarter of the same name the relics of the rampart of Asparuh can be seen. The great Bulgarian ruler built them 13 centuries ago in order to resist the raids of the Byzantine fleet.
The Pobitite Kamuni stones are 18 km west of the city, formed by erosion about 50 million years ago. Dead cockles, sea species, and fossils are constituents of these stones, and of the sands around.
The Petrich Kale rises opposite the railway station of Razdelna on Varna-Sofia railway line. The fortress was built in 5th century, later on it was destroyed down and rebuilt in 13th-14th centuries. It was an important defence fortress in 1444 during the battles of Vladislav Varnenchik. The rocks near the fortress are perfect for mountaineering.