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Bulgaria is a land famous for many things. Although it is not a big country, its heart is big, and its wonders await on every corner. Its nature - valleys, mountain ranges and endless coastline, is beyond beautiful and attracts numerous visitors every year. Its history and culture are at least thirteen hundred years old, leaving the monuments, legends and cultural legacies behind. Its beautiful nature is like the people – diverse, protective of its own, but also hospitable to foreign guests. The millennia-old treasures speak of Bulgaria`s old soul, its wisdom and thousands of years of existence and development. Numerous monuments, which date back to the time when Bulgaria was under the Turkish domination, tell hundreds of stories about heroes, and those stories are a sign of the nation`s persistence, bravery, dauntlessness and determination. Today, I would like to talk about three pieces of Bulgaria’s heart, three of our most treasured symbols, which make every Bulgarian proud to call himself a citizen of this country. Those are the Damask rose, the Thracian tombs and the Shipka monument of liberty. All three of them are located in the same place – in Bulgaria`s heart, literally and figuratively speaking.
According to a legend, the Damask rose comes from Persia, the current territory of Iran. This rose is a symbol of Bulgaria not only because it grows here, but also because of its strong aroma, which makes it a perfect ingredient of expensive perfumes, and in that way brings fame to Bulgaria. Every year in May, a festival in praise of the rose, takes place in Bulgaria – exactly when the roses blossom. The festival lasts two to three weeks and combines the pageants in which the Queen and the Princess of the Roses are chosen, the creative-writing and drawing contests, concerts, as well as a glorious ending in the form of a colorful parade.
Bulgaria is located geographically in a transit-place, where many different cultures meet. This is why one could see a lot of traces different groups of people left, when they passed through our land over the time. The Thracian tribes were among those groups, and they left many traces. Many Thracian tombs, full of golden treasures are proof of that. One of them, considered to be the oldest golden treasure in the world, even preceding the Egyptian civilization, was found near Varna, a town located on the seaside. It was dated back 7000 years ago. But the most famous Thracian tombs are located in the Rose Valley.
The third most famous symbol of the country is the Shipka monument. It may not be so famous internationally (like for example the Statue of liberty in New York), but every Bulgarian can tell you a few things about this monument. It was built to commemorate the deaths of hundreds of Bulgarian revolutionists, who gave their lives in the name of liberty.
Bulgaria was a part of the Turkish Empire for about 500 years, but during that time, the people never stopped trying to throw off the Turkish domination. In the summer of 1877, there was a war between the Turkish emperor and Russian Tsar. The latter stepped in as a savior of the Bulgarian nation. The Bulgarians were happy to receive help from Russia, but they did not want their liberty to be a gift from the Russian Tsar. They wanted to earn their freedom. They fought the Turkish army on the Shipka peak, while they were waiting for the Russian army to come and help them. Even though the Bulgarians had only a few hundred people (while the Turkish army was 100 times bigger), this small group of people managed to keep the peak from being conquered, and by doing that, they changed the course of the war. If the Turks had conquered Shipka, they would have marched through the Rose Valley, surprised the Russian army from the back and won the war. This is why the Shipka monument is so important. It is there to remind people, and not only the Bulgarians, that everything is possible, as long as you believe in it deeply enough and do not give up easily.
Every nation has its beautiful symbols, its treasures and heroes. For Bulgaria, these three things are very big, because they show its true identity to the world. They are three pieces of Bulgaria’s heart - they show to every visitor why it is worth visiting this small country in south-eastern Europe. Although now Bulgaria is neither one of the most powerful nor one of the richest countries in the world, its long history shows that the times come and go, things change, and if it had managed to survive as a nation for so many years, then it could one day regain its prior glamour. So, it is indeed a must for every traveler!
Cover photo © credits to Istockphoto/Emil Ivanov
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