Culture of Bulgaria, brief description

Culture of Bulgaria, brief description

Bulgarians are very proud of their culture and heritage. History and folklore are still an important part of their lives, where legends and traditions are passed down from generation to generation.

Bulgarian lands are a historical crossroads, inhabited since ancient times by different peoples. In their “memory” live ancient civilizations that have left an indelible mark on the culture of the Bulgarian people.

The cultural heritage of Bulgaria has been formed by bits and pieces over the centuries.

The cultural heritage of Bulgaria has been formed by bits and pieces over the centuries.

According to statistics, it is the third country after Greece and Italy for the number of archaeological monuments and sites. Bulgarian culture and traditions are a mix of Thracian, Slavic, Byzantine, Turkish, Greek, Roman and Roma cultures.

For 1300 years the land of Orpheus and Spartacus was the cradle of Slavicism and gave to the world many ingenious people. For example, Clement of Orchid – the Bulgarian educator, ranked as a saint. In his honor on May 24, Bulgaria celebrates the Day of Culture, Slavonic Script and Enlightenment.

It is here that the mysterious Thracian treasures (the silver treasure of Borovo, the treasures of Vratsa, Panagyurishte, etc.) and the tombs in Kazanlak and Sveshtari, the magnificent frescoes and brilliant examples of ancient applied art have been found.

Church and religion have always been of prime importance to the Bulgarian people. The need for churches and cathedrals was the first impetus for the birth and development of architecture. The most notable cultural monuments and examples of medieval architecture are:

Ivanovo Rock Churches , carved from solid rock, and are a group of monolithic churches, chapels and monasteries on the high rocky bank of the river “Rusenski Lom” at an altitude of 32 m. The churches were built from the 13th to the 14th century.

Ivanovo Rock Churches are situated 18 kilometers away from Ruse.

The Ivanovo Rock Churches are located 18 km from Ruse

Boyana Church is a medieval orthodox brick church located on the outskirts of Sofia, in the village of Boyana . It consists of an eastern and central wing and a western vestibule. The construction began in the XI century, and was completed in the XIX century. The church owes its world fame to frescos dating back to 1259.

Boyana Church is situated only 8 km. from Sofia, at the foot of the Vitosha Mountains

The Boyana Church is situated only 8 km. from Sofia, at the foot of the Vitosha Mountains.

They form a second layer over the paintings of earlier centuries and are considered to be some of the most valuable monuments of medieval art in Eastern Europe. In total, the church has 89 different scenes depicting about 240 human figures.

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Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is located 117 km. from Sofia in the southwestern part of the Rila Mountains at an altitude of 1147 meters above sea level. This monastery was named after the hermit John of Rila and was built in the 11th century by his disciples.

Rila Monastery - One of the most popular and largest religious buildings in Bulgaria

Rila Monastery is one of the most popular and largest religious buildings in Bulgaria

Rila Monastery is considered one of the most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments in the country and is a key attraction for Bulgaria and Southern Europe. In 2008 alone it attracted 900,000 visitors. Rila Monastery is depicted on the back side of the 1 lev bill, issued in 1999.

Frescoes and icons are a striking example of Bulgarian fine art. The Thracian tombs of Kazanlak offer beautiful examples of well-preserved ancient Thracian art.

Fresco in the Kazanlak Tomb – The Thracian King and Queen

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral has the largest collection of medieval icons. The oldest icons date back to the 9th century A.D. The art school of Tarnovo, founded at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, takes its name from the capital and main cultural center of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom – Tarnovo.

The end of the 18th century was marked with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the territory from 1396 to 1878. It contributed to the period of National Revival of Bulgaria in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bulgaria experienced “reincarnation” in all spheres of culture. After liberation in 1878, the fine arts recovered quickly and came under the influence of European art movements, such as late romanticism.

Music is an inseparable living part of Bulgarian culture. Music mainly found its development after liberation from Byzantine domination with the beginning of the formation of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

Bulgarian song has an unknown secret and profound soulfulness

The Bulgarian song has an unknown secret and deep soulfulness

During the Ottoman rule, music as an art was completely silenced until the Liberation of Bulgaria. Later the first Bulgarian Opera is created. Bulgarian voices are believed to be shrouded in mystery. Experts are still trying to find an explanation for the incredible range of the Bulgarian voice and song diversity.

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The song “Delyu gaiduk went out” by Vale Balkanskaya was recorded on a gold disc in 1977 and sent into space on the Voyager spacecraft. Just a little – and the song will literally cross the physical border of the solar system.

Vale Balkanskaya, national singer of Bulgaria, who recently celebrated her 70th birthday.

Vale Balkanskaya, a Bulgarian folk singer who recently celebrated her 70th birthday

Schoolchildren in the backyard practicing before a performance.

The Bulgarian song has won top prizes again and again in song and folklore competitions held in Italy, England, France and Ireland. Schoolchildren in the backyard practicing before a performance

Some of Bulgaria’s most popular and large-scale folklore festivals are “Pirin Sings,” and “Rozhen Sings,” which attract up to 150,000 guests annually.

“Pirin Sings” and “Rozhen Sings” are some of the largest festivals of Bulgarian foklore music

  • Gadulka – like a violin;
  • Gajda – prototype of the bagpipe;
  • Kaval – longitudinal flute;
  • Tambura, a stringed plucked instrument similar to the guitar;
  • Tapan, a large double-sided drum.

Most of the population, or more precisely 78%, are Christian, of which 76% are Orthodox Christians. However, few of them attend churches and services – only 14%.

Bulgarians are an Orthodox nation.

Bulgarians are an Orthodox nation.

The national language is Bulgarian. In the process of its formation many words were borrowed from Turkish (during the Ottoman rule), Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Italian and German.

Bulgaria is very proud of its language

Bulgaria is very proud of its language

Bulgarian families are friendly and big.

The family is very important in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is characterized by large families. Moreover, not only parents with their children and families, but also several generations can live under one roof. Families in Bulgaria are usually very friendly and close-knit: family members always come to each other’s aid. Bulgarian families are friendly and large

In Bulgaria there is a special honor and respect for the elderly: they are the first to be greeted, they are the first to be seated at the table and served the best food, they have the right of way. Their opinion is very valuable and important for everyone else.

Gifts in Bulgaria are customary to give on birthdays, Christmas, and when going to visit. The main rule when choosing a gift: the gift should express more attention than represent any value.

Invited to visit? A bottle of good wine for the host and a bouquet of flowers for the keeper of the home.

Invited as a guest? A bottle of good wine for the owner and a bouquet of flowers for the keeper of the house.

Do not make too expensive gifts, it can put the host in an awkward position. Usually the hostess of the house is given a bouquet of flowers, and the owner – a bottle of good wine or other alcoholic beverage. It is better not to buy chrysanthemums, lilies and gladioluses – these flowers are usually used at funerals. A sign of good manners is to open the gift while receiving it.

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The country still has ancient traditions and customs dating back to the days when people believed in the unknown forces of nature. Mystical Bulgarian voices together with frantically colorful costumes and wild dances accompanied by sincere merriment all make up a huge layer in Bulgarian culture called “traditions”.

Very popular is the “Nestinarian charcoal dance” – a real ancient art. The dancers perform their dance barefoot on smoldering coals.

“Nestinar dance on coals” – an ancient mystical ritual for health and fertility.

“Rose Festival” – another wonderful event in Bulgaria, held near the town of Kazanlak in the Valley of Roses during the first weekend of June.

Festive Costume Procession at the Rose Festival

On this day, tender rose petals are sprinkled on the city streets.

On this day the streets of the cities are sprinkled with delicate rose petals

The Bulgarian rose is a unique producer of essential oil raw materials, producing 70% of the world’s rose oil.

Bulgaria is Europe's main supplier of rose oil.

Bulgaria is the main supplier of rose oil in Europe

Experts say Bulgarian roses and rose oil owe their unique properties to the local climate and generous soil. The flowers are harvested in May and June, when high humidity reigns, which is important for the process.

The beginning of spring is marked by the carnival “Kukeri”. which has a religious character. It takes place in the Bulgarian cities of Pernik and Dupnitsa. Each participant makes a fancy dress and a colorful mask, embroidered with beads, ribbons and sewn with woolen tassels.

For first-time visitors, the Kukeri festival can seem like a rather intimidating affair.

Kukers with their swaying step symbolize the wheat, which sagged under the weight of the grains. And bells tied around the waist should scare away evil spirits.

What is peculiar about the culture of Bulgaria?

Dancing in Bulgaria

Even the name of this country puts many people in a good mood and a desire to relax and admire the beauties. Speaking of beauties. There are more than enough of them in Bulgaria. And admiring them, you can enjoy plenty of national traditions and characteristics of this country. Consider in detail what is famous for Bulgaria.

Where do the roots come from?

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The history and cultural heritage of Bulgaria have Slavic roots. And the Slavs, in turn, received most of the cultural heritage from the ancient peoples – the Byzantines and Thracians. Since the Middle Ages Bulgaria is considered to be “the cradle of Slavic culture. Let’s take a closer look at the most important cultural trends. The peculiarities of the cultural trends


Architecture of Bulgaria. The Alexander Nevsky Temple-Monument

First of all Bulgarians are proud of architectural monuments related to religion. These are, of course, churches and monasteries. Note that the largest number of Bulgarians are Orthodox Christians. And religion in the country is free.

So, what are the religious sights worth seeing?

– Cave Churches (Ivanovo). This is a whole complex of monolithic churches and chapels in the rocks. The main “highlight” of this sight is the location on the high bank of the river Rusensky Lom. Cave churches are located in north-eastern Bulgaria near the town of Ruse and the village of Ivanovo. Also fascinating in the churches are fragments of wall paintings. Today, frescoes from the 13th-14th centuries are a prime example of medieval mural painting. Undoubtedly, a visit to Ivanovo’s rock churches can give you the most unforgettable impressions.

– Boyana Church. This is another very impressive sight, located in the village of Boyana on the outskirts of Sofia. The church is built of red-brown brick. And it is noteworthy that since the 11th century, the structure has been subjected to architectural interventions only twice. The building is really remarkable. And also interesting are the frescoes preserved from 1259.

– Rila Monastery. This is a very important landmark in all of Bulgaria and southeastern Europe. The monastery is located 117 km from Sofia in the Rila Mountains. The place of interest is impressive with its immensity and grandiosity of construction. Note Rila Monastery is depicted on the 1 Lion 1999 banknote.

Please note the above mentioned architectural monuments are marked by UNESCO. And they are recommended to visit absolutely every tourist. Thanks to them you can enjoy and better feel the national spirit of Bulgaria.

In addition, in the country it is worth visiting: – Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia (Alexander Nevsky Square); – Rotunda of Saint George in Sofia (Boulevard Knyaz Dondukov,2); – Roman Thermae in Varna (street “San Stefano” and “Khan Krum”); – Old Metropolia in Nessebar – basilica of 3 buildings built 5-6 centuries (street Ivan Asen, 2).

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Music and dances

Dancing in Bulgaria

Music is one of the leading cultural trends in Bulgaria. Many natives of the country have really excellent abilities for music and song. In almost every corner of the country you can regularly hear new musical compositions and see great performances.

The main differences in Bulgarian music are: – the predominant Bulgarian language; – the metrical rhythm; – the harmonic and tonal melody; – the use of nasal and throaty sounds; – the impetuous passionate character; – the genre diversity.

Bulgarian folklore has music for different occasions. And believe me, most of the Bulgarian melodies can be recognized by their first sounds and not be confused with compositions of other nations of the world.

All tourists are recommended to visit Bulgaria during the periods when national festivals and concerts are held. For example, in Koprivshtitsa every 5 years there is Big Folklore Festival. If you do not want to wait, then pay attention to other events regularly held in different resorts of the country.

To the sounds of Bulgarian music are often performed national dances and dances. The most popular are the “Chora” and “Rychenitsy”.

Undoubtedly, it is a very impressive spectacle. Most Bulgarian dances are characterized by: – many different movements; – active rhythm; – private changes of figures; – the presence of bright colorful accessories, for example, ribbons, scarves.


Basket of rose petals. Festival of Roses in Bulgaria.

The Rose Festival is one of the most beautiful events held in the last days of spring – first days of summer near the town of Kazanlak in the Valley of Roses. During the festival: – roses are gathered in an open field; – rose wreaths are woven; – contests are held; – a rose queen is chosen; – beautiful dancing activities are arranged.

Undoubtedly, a visit to Bulgaria during the Rose Festival can provide the most vivid and unforgettable experience.

Another good tradition of the Bulgarians is the gift-giving. The main rule – in the first place is a sign of attention, not the material value of the gift. In Bulgaria it is customary to give gifts on holidays and when visiting guests. And one more peculiarity – it is accepted to open the gifts immediately after giving them.

To summarize, undoubtedly, the peculiarities of Bulgarian culture are very interesting. And it is fascinating and useful to study them for absolutely everyone. Do you agree?

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