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Man in blue coat with bike

Quiet streets in Bulgaria.  I just love this man's blue coat, green basket, pants, shoes, hat...


Living life got in the way of me finishing my Danube cruise travelogue.  If you would like to see other posts of our 2009 trip, please click here.

Meadow, Bulgaria


This was one of my favorite trips.  We were on one of the first western cruises that went from the Danube to the Black Sea.  What was so special was that tourism from the west was fairly new, at least to the quantity of visitors that were going to come after seeing these beautiful countries and their people. 

Horse drawn cart on Bulgarian highway

Stork nest, Bulgaria

Look carefully and you'll see the stork in the nest.


I only have Bulgaria and Romania left to show you so let's get back on the river!  In this post I'll give you some history and just a few countryside photos.  In the next post(s) I will share photos of a couple villages we visited.

The history of Bulgaria goes back to the Paleolithic Era or beginning of the Stone Age.  Organized communities arrived in the Neolithic Era or New Stone Age, about 10,200 BC!  That was the beginning of farming with crops and domestic animals.

Roman bridge, Bulgaria


There were two Bulgarian Empires prior to Ottoman Rule. The first is when the people let go of pagan practices and aligned themselves with the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church and adopted the Cyrillic alphabet which unified the Slavs and Bulgars.

Road signs in cyrillic in Bulgaria

The second empire saw the empire expand and accept the spiritual supremacy of the Pope.

The Ottoman Empire in the late 14th century eliminated the nobility and enslaved the peasantry.  Although some converted to Islam, probably to avoid taxation and just make life easier, there were enclaves of Christians that kept their religion alive.

In 1878 Russia in a treat with the Ottoman Empire set up a principality, but other large powers were nervous and confined it to a smaller area, leaving some Bulgarians living outside the territory.  In 1908 Bulgaria won a war against Serbia and reincorporated territory that used to be part of the Bulgarian Empire and declared itself independent.

Old gated crossing manned by gatehouse

Manually operated gate on road with old gatehouse.


Due to their past they became heavily militarized and during the world wars aligned themselves with Germany due to having issues with their neighbors.  However, they did not participate in Operation Barbarossa and saved its own Jewish population from the concentration camps.

After WWII they came under the influence of the Soviets.

Industrial building, Bulgaria


In 1984 the Bulgarians initiated an assimilation program for the ethnic Turk minority.  They required them to change their name to a Slav name and closed mosques.  This along with the end of communist rule in 1989 led to some 300,000 ethnic Turks immigrating to Turkey.

After much hardship economy wise, Bulgaria became a member of NATO in 2004 and joined the European Union in 2007.

We got a taste of Bulgaria by being on the NE side of their country, but what we saw was beautiful.  We did not get to the mountainous Balkan side.  Maybe another day.


such history!

wow, thanks for the glimpse into the Bulgarian country side and history! it does always amaze me to learn about the spread of influence over the countries and how it ebbed and flowed. How amazing to have been one of the first to take the trip along the river!

ebbs and flows

I know what you mean. Even though you get tired of going into churches when you're traveling - they not only are beautiful architecturally, you can often see that they were Christian (possibly built on a pagan site), then Moslem, then Christian again. Also - just seeing the influence artistically and architecturally throughout the region is fascinating. I'm amazed how much of the Roman Empire is still standing in these other countries, especially roads and bridges. They were very industrious!

Bulgaria was so interesting, as there were many rural areas that were like folks lived 200 years ago. I'll share more of that in one of the next posts.

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