Rural tourism is probably the best way to get to know the traditions of Bulgaria. Through their stay in a village house, tourists can come to appreciate traditional Bulgarian lifestyles and the culture of the country.

 

Bulgaria’s villages are the keepers of traditions and local folklore. Some of them appear to be taken out of a picture presenting life several centuries ago.
Bulgaria offers magnificent and breathtaking countryside, offering virgin nature and organic fruits and vegetables. The Bulgarian village is attractive all year round as each season has its own charm. Recently many family hotels and houses opened doors for tourists who want to relax in the pleasant atmosphere and crystal clear air in the Bulgarian rural resorts. This article is prepared as a brief summary of some of the most well-known and commonly recommended places. Here is some information about the particular villages and towns that can be visited.

Koprivshtitsa;

Koprivshtitsa is a small picturesque town in the heart of Sredna Gora Mountain. It is situated 110 km southeast away from Sofia and 80 km away northwest from Plovdiv. The town preserves the atmosphere of the Revival period and rich historical heritage. Koprivstitsa was declared to be museum town. 
It is said that the town was founded by the boyars who left Tarnovo after the ottoman invaders conquered the town. Many merchants and stock – breeders settled the place too. The Ottoman government gave some privileges to the town so its citizens kept their prosperity and well – being. The crafts and the trade thrived in Koprivshtitsa and the town became cultural and economic centre within the limits of Ottoman Empire. Its wealth attracted the robber bands and Koprivshtitsa was burned down three times, the last one was in 1810. But the town was renovated and continued its development.
It is surprising how many great persons like the revolutionaries Liuben Karavelov, Todor Kableshkov and Georgi Bemkovski, the poet Dimcho Debelianov, the politician Petko Karavelov and many others were born in Koprivshtitsa.
Here was given the first shot that marked the beginning of the April uprising, which was declared with the famous “Bloody letter”, written with the blood of a fallen Ottoman officer as the first actions of the insurrection took place.
Koprivshtitsa is full of landmarks and historical monuments. The house museums of Liuben Karavelov, Todor Kableshkov and Georgi Benkovski keep many interesting facts and documents about the life and work of the great Bulgarian revolutionaries. Inside the Oselkova and Lutova houses the visitors can feel the atmosphere of the typical Bulgarian home. The house museum of the great Bulgarian poet Dimcho Debelianov is huddled between two big pine trees and if you cross the doorstep of the inner courtyard you will understand his verse “Do you remember the silent backyard” 
The whole town gives the feeling of complete coziness and calmness. There are many taverns and restaurants that leave unforgettable memories with delicious dishes and unique atmosphere.

Veliko Tarnovo;

Veliko Tarnovo is located 210 metres above sea level, along the historical hills of Sveta Gora, Tsarevets and Trapezitsa. The town is majestically perched on the two banks of the Yantra River, cutting a peculiar and unique gorge through the Tarnovo Hills.
Veliko Tarnovo holds an important role in the Bulgarian history. The region was settled ever since the Neolith epoch and since then Thracians, Romans and Byzantines built their settlements in the region. The most glorious days of the city were during the medieval period, when the city was a political, religious and cultural centre of the Bulgarian kingdom. 
The fascinating history of the city can be best felt on the top of Tsarevets hill, where one can see the whole city. A very well-preserved stone fort wall encircles the whole hill and numerous archeological excavations from different periods were found in the region. Tourists will definitely be enchanted by the numerous turrets, basilicas and other buildings of historical significance.

There is a lot to be seen and done in Veliko Tarnovo. Visitors can’t help admiring the numerous unique monuments of the Renaissance period - a never ending wealth of spiritual and material values. 
Veliko Tarnovo has always been an attractive site for tourists from Bulgaria and foreign countries. 
Every year by the end of March the unique “Voice and Light” show is performed on the Tsarevets hill, representing the glorious history of Bulgaria.
The town is easy accessible by bus and railway transport. Just 10 kilometers away from Veliko Tarnovo is the Gornya Oryahovitsa airport.

Arbanassi;


Arbanassi village is situated 4 km north east of Veliko Tarnovo, on a high plateau which reveals beautiful view to Tsarevets and Trapezitsa hills. The village is very popular tourist destination with its remarkable old houses and churches with detailed wooden ornaments and wall – paintings. The whole complex is a monument of the Bulgarian architectural art and it was built during the period 16 – 18 century, when Arbanassi is in its apogee. That’s why Arbanassi is declared to be historical settlement of national significance. 

The first written document about Arbanassi is the chronicle of the Turkish sultan Suleiman The Magnificent from 1538. There are different suggestions about where the name and the population of Arbanasi came from. It is supposed to be settled by the Bulgarian boyars and their serfs from the western part of Bulgaria, after the great victory of Ivan Asen II at Klokotnitsa in 1230, when he conquered the Arbanashka land. A flourishing state of economy and culture Arbanassi reached during the 17 – 18 century. The natives were merchants and craftsmen. Silkworms were bred there. The merchants exported silk to Istanbul and Italy. The wine – growing is also typical for the region. 
The whole complex is a remarkable site. The famous Arbanassi houses are unique. The oldest buildings are similar with the Tarnovo boyar house. They are like small fortresses, completely made of stone. They have strong stone gates and sentry – boxes.
It is not only the remarkable houses that are very interesting in Arbanassi. There are spectacular fountains with big eaves – Kokonska and Pazarska fountains and the seven Arbanassi churches are among the most – remarkable monuments of the Bulgarian art.

Shipka;


Shipka is a real cultural centre of the Bulgarian lands. The town is situated just 5 km from the beautiful rose town of Kazanlak, in close vicinity to Koprinka Dam and the valley of the Thracian Kings. The beauty of the area, the good climate and fresh mountain air of Shipka ensures relaxing holidays throughout the whole year.

One of the most popular attractions and a symbol of the town is the Russian Church of Shipka. In honour of the perished Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers in the Russian – Turkish war of liberation a large beautiful monastery “Nativity” was built at the foot of Stara Planina above the town of Shipka. 
The monastery was constructed in period 1885 – 1902 and the land property was granted by local people. 

The monastery church “Nativity” is very impressive. It is real masterpiece of architecture and was declared as a monument of culture. The temple was built in the Russian cathedrals traditional style from 17 century. The golden domes are shining far from the distance and the varicolored inlays are like alive. There is 53 m long bell tower with 17 bells. The biggest one weights 12 t. The visitors can see 24 marble plates with the names of 18,491 Russian and Bulgarian soldiers who gave their life in battle at Shipka and Kazanlak. 
The famous “Golyamata Kosmatka” Mound, Shipka Peak, where the Russian army and the Bulgarian freedom fighters courageously held the numerous Ottoman divisions,  Shipka Monastery, the Valley of the Kings with numerouus mounds, tombs and sanctuaries of Thracian origin, as well as Koprinka Dam are situated in the surrounding areas of the beautiful town of Shipka. Rich in history, mysterious and charming, Shipka awaits you!

Belogradchik;


Belogradchik is situated in extremely picturesque region with unique rock formations and natural sights. Thus it has become a famous tourism centre with excellent resources for trips, cave and bicycle tourism, mountain climbing, hunting, fishing or even astronomic observation. 
Belogradchick emerged during the middle ages with the construction of a fortress amidst the rocks, which determined the development of the settlement. The town is named after the white monastery of the fortress.
The “Belogrdchick rocks” are unique rock formation, situated nearby the town of Belogradchik, 52 kilometres in south - west of the town of Vidin.
The cultural traditions of the town are popular in the country. Guests are attracted by the painting expositions, sculptures, wood carving and international festivals, national songs and dances and modern ballet. 
Belogradchik fortress - Kaleto, is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Bulgaria. 

Trigrad;

Trirad is a village in southern Bulgaria. It is situated in Devin municipality in Smolyan region.
The village is located in the Western part of the Rhodope mountain, nearby the Bulgarian-Greek border. Te village is just 26 km away from Devin and 40 km away from Smolyan. Trigrad is located at 1240 m above the sea level. 
The houses have perched on the rocky hills surrounded by impressive rock massifs. The Trigradska River passes through the village.
The surrounding area of the village offers numerous archeology findings – cave homes and Thracian necropolis. 
The natural resources and rich culture of the region is a great prerequisite for development of tourism. A great number of tourists visit the village all year round, as Trigrad offers a unique combination of virgin nature, preserved traditions and rich cultural inheritance and traditional Rhodopian hospitality. 
There are numerous family hotels and private lodgings in the village.
Among the attractions in the village is a horseback riding base. Rock climbing and delta-planer flights are also available in the region. 
Three of the most interesting tourism attractions in Bulgaria are located in close vicinity to the village – these are “Yagodinska” cave, “The Devil's throat” cave and the Trigrad Gorge. 
The Trigrad carst region is one of the biggest carst regions in Bulgaria. There are over 150 caves in the region. Seven of them have been inhabited by prehistoric people.

The Trigrad gorge is located around 1.5 km away from the village. It is a deep gorge along the float of the Trigradska River. At some places the vertical marble rocks can reach 290 m over the dry river bed. 
The limy rocks of the gorge are among the richest sites of endemic, rare and relict flora species in Bulgaria. Numerous rare birds nest in the region.

One of the phenomenons of the Trigrad Gorge is the Devil's Throat cave. The waters of the Trigradska River enter the cave and create 12 underground waterfalls. The highest waterfall is 42 m tall (one of the tallest in Europe).

The protected site “Chairite” is located 19 km east of Trigrad. Six peculiar natural landslide lakes and the natural phenomenon “Piyanata Gora” are preserved in the region.
The “Orpheus Mysteries” is one of the most interesting events in the region. The festival is held every year during the last weekend of July.

Shiroka Laka;

Shiroka Laka is a lovely village, comfortably lied in the central Rhodope Mountains, South Bulgaria. Its name means "wide meander". 
Shiroka Laka is a national architectural and folklore reserve. It is famous for authentic Rhodopean houses – of the Zgurov, Uchikov and Grigorov families, as well as the unique iconostasis in the local Chirch of the Holy Mother of God. 
Shiroka Laka is the music heart of the Rhodopes – the mountains of the legendary Orpheus. It is the source of the famous Rhodopean sings and their unique tunes with caba gaida (a local type of bagpipe) accompaniment. The most prominent folklore singers, bagpipers and ensembles are discovered and created in a National school for folklore arts – Shiroka Laka. The Shiroka Laka Hotel is situated in the close proximity of that centre of Bulgarian culture. 
Shiroka Laka is a great place for tourism. Besides the original architecture and plentiful music culture the village is famous for its harmonic effects of the surrounding mountain nature.

Within one or even half an hour of car ride in the Rhodope Mountain are also situated the towns of Devin and Laki.

If you visit the official visitbulgaria.net webpage, you will be able to find out that these are only a few of the sites that you can discover in Bulgaria, these and many more places are described, with plentiful information about them. The page is recommended, as there you will be able to find reliable information about the particular accommodations in hotels, Family hotels, hostels and Family houses, means of transportation, and exact prices with entire packages for groups, families or lone visitors.
If you love the adventure, picturesque views, Balkan folklore and ancient history, feel free to research and plan your visitation of the Bulgarian country side, and enjoy the many options for rural tourism that are available, for people that like to explore culture, traditions, and famously beautiful nature, while wanting to escape from the noisy night clubs and the familiar urban environment of the big cities and modern resorts.

Written by: Velin Todorov Nedkov

Leave a comment