One of the oldest countries in Southeastern Europe is the Republic of Bulgaria. It has a total area of 110,879 square kilometers bordering the Black Sea. It uses its own currency known as Lev (BGN) instead of Euro and it shares the borders with Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. The official language is Bulgarian but is written using Cyrillic alphabet.
1. The only European country that kept its name since it was founded
Bulgaria pre-dates the Roman Empire making it one of the first countries to be established in Europe. It was founded back in 681 AD when the local Slavic and Asian Turkic inhabitants successfully unite to create its first Bulgarian Empire. The present-day name of the country is what their ancestors had chosen to represent the empire 1,300 years ago and has remained unchanged or unmodified.
2. Bulgaria has found the world’s oldest known gold treasure, the Varna Necropolis Treasure
In Varna, the third largest city in Bulgaria, around 3000 gold objects were found in 294 graves in 1972, an interesting Bulgaria fact. Archeologists believed that these precious objects are more than 6,000 years old. The treasure can be viewed in Varna Museum of Archeology.
3. Demonstrating a “Yes” and a “No” is different with Bulgarians
It is important for travelers going to Bulgaria to note that its citizens do not shake their heads to say “No” because it means “Yes.” Nodding would mean disagreeing or disapproving. To avoid confusion, it would be better to just remember the word “Da” means yes and “Ne” means no.
4. It has the second oldest city in Europe, Sofia
Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, was established some 7,000 years ago. In one of the districts of the city, a Neolithic village was discovered dating back to the 5th–6th millennium and another one dating back to 3rd–4th millennium BC. It is the largest city in the country with around 1,241,675 residents and the 13th largest in European Union.
5. Almost 30% of Bulgaria is covered with forests
With 40 mountains scattered on its territory, it is to be expected that around 8,000,000 acres of Bulgaria are forest land, an interesting fact about Bulgaria. One of the favorite outdoor activities of Bulgarians are mountaineering and skiing.
6. One of its famous folk song was included on Voyager I as part of US Space Probe
When Voyager I was launched into deep space in 1977, a collection of the best of human’s cultural artifacts was included. Along with the works of Mozart and Bach, a Bulgarian folk song “Izlel e Delyu Haydutin” from artist Valya Balkanska was selected to be part of it.
7. Bulgarian ancient calendar declared as the world’s most accurate
This solar-based calendar created by the Bulgars, a Central Turkic tribe, was declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the most accurate in the world in 1976. It is quite similar to the Chinese calendar with elements such as water, fire, earth, tree, and metal. Some scholars believed it was made in 2350 BC but other experts claimed that it dates back to 5505 BC.
8. It is one of the largest producers of Rose oil in the world
Bulgaria along with Turkey produces about 80% of the world’s Rose oil. Most perfumers or cosmetic chemists use this popular key ingredient to make perfumes and beauty products. It is considered an expensive component since 1,000 roses are needed to produce 1 gram of rose oil. The roses can be found in the Rose Valley region located in the south of the Balkan Mountains.
9. Cyrillic alphabet was invented by Bulgarian monks
The language used in Bulgaria is written in Cyrillic. This alphabet is being used in most Slavic nations including Russia and other Balkan countries. It was created back in the 10th century during the 1st Balkan Empire by two monks, Cyril and Methodius.
10. Rila Cross is a popular attraction in Bulgaria
Housed in the Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila is a wooden cross with 104 biblical scenes and around 650 microscopic figures, an interesting fact about Bulgaria. It was crafted by a monk named Rafail in 1802 and lost his sight after working on it for 12 years. He worked on the 81 x 43 cm wood using magnifying lens and burins.
11. Bulgaria is home to 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Being one of the oldest nations in Europe, Bulgaria has 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Seven of them are under the cultural category such as the Ancient City of Nessebar, Boyana Church, Madara Rider, Rila Monastery, Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, and the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari. The other remaining sites fall into the natural category such as the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians, Pirin National Park, and Srebarna Nature Reserve.
12. It holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest glass bottle mosaic
Coca-Cola Bulgaria made the biggest glass bottle mosaic in the world covering an area of 250 square meters. Around 72,933 empty bottles of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero and Schweppes Soda were used to create the mosaic. The Guinness World Record organizers recognized this achievement as it is about ten times bigger than the previous record holder.
13. Bulgaria boasts of the best yogurt in the world
Due to the unique flavor given by the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus that can only be found in Bulgaria, the yogurt it produces is recognized as one of the best in the world. It has a different sourness as compared to other yogurts, and Bulgarians believed that it help them live longer lives, an interesting fact about Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is mostly visited by Eastern Europeans but more Westerners are discovering the beauty of the country particularly the numerous archeological and natural areas recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as World Heritage sites. It is also one of the few countries that offer the greatest religious freedom in the world. In the heart of the country’s capital, a Catholic Church, a Christian Orthodox Church, a Mosque, and a Synagogue occupy the same area. They call it a center of religious tolerance.
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