Bourgas Guide – places to visit
The city of Bourgas came into existence almost 2000 years ago. At first it served as a trade and military settlement of the town of Apollonia (Sozopol).
Until the end of the 19th century Bourgas remained small and lacked any major role. The first school and church of the settlement were built in 1868. After the end of the Ottoman rule, Bourgas developed into a modern, European city. A conflagration in XIX century destroyed almost the entire city, which had to be rebuilt afterwards. This event contributed to the modern look of the city.
The port of Bourgas was built in 1903 and its trade high school appeared in 1905. Today the port of Bourgas is the largest cargo port on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Art and culture are mixed together in Bourgas and there is much to see and do in the city and surrounds. Read more about Bourgas on Wikipedia
Here are a few ideas to get you started in Bourgas:
Spectacular natural sceneries, reserves and geological formations in Bourgas
Bourgas is surrounded by tree firth lakes, which are very popular destination for bird-watching and ecotourism. They form the so called “Wet zone” which is situated on the “Via Pontica” bird migration route.
Lake Atanasovsko is located to the north of Bourgas and is very salty, because it lies very close to the sea. It is a home of many different bird species (sword beak, marine golden eye, ringed fishmonger, white-headed goose, etc.). Part of the lake has a status of a protected area. You can find special shelters for bird-watching after the Sea Garden of Bourgas, near the Varna road Circle.
Lake Bourgas (known also as Lake Vaya) lies on the west side of Bourgas and is the biggest natural lake in Bulgaria. This is also a nice place for fishing and bird watching. About 250 bird species and 25 fish species live here such as swans, pelicans, ducks, egrets, cormorants, grebes, squacco herons and black-crowned night herons, etc. Some of the birds are rare, that’s why a part of the lake is declared a protected area. Unfortunately, the Lake Bourgas is much polluted and suffers from the industrial activities in the region.
Lake Mandrensko (complex Mandra – Poda) is a combination between a lake and a lagoon and is located very close to the Black Sea and Bourgas, on the left side of the road to Sozopol. It is also a protected area because of the endangered species of birds which nest here.
In 1997 in the protected area “Poda” was built the Ecology Protection Centre “PODA”, which became the most popular place for bird watching in the region. Many birdwatchers from all around the world are coming here to see the glossy ibis, the black-crowned night heron, the spoonbill, the Dalmatian pelican, the white stork and many others. The Center is equipped with special optics, library and a video hall.
St. Anastasia Island
St. Anastasia Island is located on 6.5 km from Bourgas, between Cape St. Anastasia and Cape Atia and has a territory of 0.022 km2. This is a very picturesque place with rich and exiting history. It is known, that during the Middle Ages there was a monastery on the island, which was reconstructed in the 19th century but after that abandoned. Since 1923 the island was turned into a prison. Nowadays, the old monastery building is transformed into a hotel. There are also a pub, a lighthouse, a small quay and a couple of buildings for the tourists. There are special boats which can bring you to the island. Such boats you can find in Bourgas, Nessebar, Pomorie and Sozopol.
Monasteries, cathedrals and churches
Monastery of St. Mary
The Monastery of St. Mary dates from the beginning of 12th century and was build near a Thracian sanctuary over 7 mysterious curative springs. The present appearance of the monastery dates from 1982. There are 2 churches, 40 chapels and residential buildings. Each chapel is dedicated to a different Christian Saint and fascinates the visitors with its beauty and craftsmanship. The Temple “St. Mary” is situated between the Bourgas quarter “Meden Rudnik” and the village “Gorno Ezerovo”. Interesting fact is that the seven curative springs had attracted sick people here since the Thracian times.
Cathedal “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”
The Cathedral “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” was built between years 1895-1905 and designed by the famous Italian architect Ricardo Toscani. It is the biggest temple in Bourgas. It was built as a cathedral church – nave basilica with a central apse. In the western part of the temple there are two bell towers, which are available through winding stairs. The walls are made of gray-green stone Aytos Andesite. Three magnificent cornices frame the building from the outside. From the inside, the Cathedral is decorated with beautiful carvings – a real masterpiece, made in 1947. Amongst the numerous icons there are two, which are considered to be miraculous – the people believe they can heal diseases and bring luck.
Churches in Bourgas
The Roman-Catholic church “Virgin Mary” was built in 1936 on the place of an old Catholic Church. It is an one-apse basilica with beautiful interior decoration.
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church "Surp Hach" (the Holy Cross) was built in 1673. This church is one of the oldest religious places in Bourgas and hat a status of a cultural monument.
Church “St. Ivan Rilski”
Church “St. Mary”
Church “Holy Trinity”
Cultural sights in Bourgas
Regional Bourgas Museum
The Regional Bourgas Museum was founded in 1912. It is the biggest museum in the South-East Bulgaria and comprises four separate exposures where the complete historical, archeological and cultural heritage of the region can be seen.
The building of the Archeological Exposure was constructed in 1894 and designed by the Swiss architect Hermann Maier. The exhibition includes items with very high archeological value from prehistoric times (IV-V century BC), also artifacts from Thracian times, from the Hellenic colonization of the Black sea and from the Roman Empire.
The Ethnographic Exposure is located in a beautiful 19th century house and has a rich collection of cultural and lifestyle items of the old Bourgas. There is also an exhibition of Bulgarian traditional costumes of the different ethnographic groups who had settled on the territory of Bourgas in the past. There are also costumes and accessories, worn during typical Bulgarian rituals and celebrations such as wedding celebrations, Nestinarka, Lazaruvane and Kukeri rituals, and many more.
The Historical Exposure is located in a very beautiful restored house, designed by Ricardo Toscani and built in 1901. The exhibition displays the social, cultural and economic development of the city from for the period end of 19th – begin of 20th century. Original exponents, documents and pictures from different events and personalities having influenced the history of Bourgas can be seen here. There is also a big art collection, showing samples of the European fine and applied arts of the 18th – 19th century such as bronze, porcelain and glass sculptures, paintings from France, Italy, Germany and Austro-Hungary and more.
The Nature and Science Exposure is situated in a neo-classical old house, built in 1897. It displays the geological history and the present biological diversity of the Bourgas region. Some of the unique exhibitions here are “The magical world of the stones”, “The birds in the Wet Zones of Bourgas”, “Flora and Fauna of the Strandza Mountain”, etc.
Hobby and fun in Bourgas
Bourgas is a world famous festival centre. Some of the most interesting and world-known festivals are:
The International Flower Exhibition “Flora” in April – May. The annual exhibition is held in the open at the Sea Garden. In especially built pavilions the visitors can see decorative and potted plants, architectural and artistic gardening products and decorations, seedlings, lightweight and professional garden equipment and machinery, chemicals, garden furniture and more. Outside the pavilions, there is a flower and green plants bazaar.
International Cynological Exhibition in June.
In the Sea Garden are held trainings, demonstrations, exhibitions and sport competitions for dogs of various breeds.
The Festival of the Sand Figures in July
The International Festival of Sand Figures is a very popular summer attraction in Bourgas, which starts in July and ends in the autumn. This an unique event held in the Sea Garden, where you can see amazing sand sculptures. Each year the festival has a different theme, for example in 2010 the festival motto was “Circus” and in 2011 – “Movies”.
Spirit of Bourgas
The Music Festival “Spirit of Bourgas” in August is the biggest open-air musical even in Bulgaria. For 3 days the Central Beach of Bourgas turnes into a music scene, where rock, hardcore and punk, reggae, jazz and blues, techno, Trans, ethno beats, drum and base performers from all around the world fascinate the fans. Some of the most famous musicians who have performed here are: The Sisters of Mercy, Moby, Kosheen, Faith No More, Apollo 440, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Prodigy, Suicidal Tendencies, Skunk Anansie, Deftones, Gorillaz, Uncle, Cradle of Filth, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Shadow, Groove Armada and many more.
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