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10 Day Tour of Bulgaria, 2021

Tour cost:
Per person cost, depending on the size of travelling party, as follows:

♦ Group size: 2 participants:     € 2 260  ( per person in double/twin room sharing)
♦ Group size: 3- 4 participants: € 1 835 ( per person in double/twin room sharing)
♦ Group size: 5- 6 participants: € 1 480  ( per person in double/twin room sharing)
♦ Single Supplement: € 360
Tour cost includes:

1. Accommodation at comfortable, centrally located, 3-star hotels as per itinerary.
2. Transportation by private car/van/minibus, depends on size of the travelling party.
3. Full time bilingual licensed local guide-driver. The guide will drive.
4. Entrance fees to sites as indicated in the itinerary.

Sofia (direct transfer to Plovdiv) - Plovdiv (2 nights) –Kazanlak-( 1 night ) – Varna (2 night) – Veliko Tarnovo (2 nights)- Sofia ( 2 night )

You will visit 6 outstanding   UNESCO Sites

The Thracian Tomb at Kazanlak, UNESCO Site
The ancient town of Nessebar, UNESCO Site
Madara Horse  Rock Relief, UNESCO Site
Sveshtary Tomb, UNESCO Site
Rila Monastery, UNESCO Site
Boyana Church, UNESCO Site

Summery:
Bulgaria is an unspoiled pearl in the Balkan mountains of Eastern Europe.
Blessed with a lush countryside and nature, with world’s most exquisite roses Bulgaria has 8 000 years of history. Rich cultural and artistic layers are dating back to prehistoric times. Bulgaria is Europe’s most ancient civilization. Due to its geographic position at the borders between Europe and Asia, Bulgaria has always served as a main bridge between east and west, north and south. It has been a crossroads for many cultures throughout history, it is a melting pot of people and cultures. Numerous tribes and peoples have inhabited these lands as early as the prehistoric and the antiquity ages, and through the middle and late middle ages of world’s history: Thracians, Hellenic Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Ottomans, to mention just a few. Thus, one cultural level has built over the previous one, both merging and influencing one another.
In archaeological terms Bulgaria is one of the most rich countries in Europe.
You will see the oldest gold in the world-Varna Gold- and will learn about mysterious highly developed civilization that have been living 7 000 years ago. You will see fabulous golden Thracian treasures connected with the life, myths and legends about Dionysus and Orpheus that have been living in Bulgarian lands. Bulgaria is the homerland  of another hero- Spartacus.
For many years Bulgaria has been in isolation behind the Iron Curtain. The oppressive communist regime in Bulgaria collapsed in November 1989 and now the Bulgarian people are facing their new realities as members of the European Union. Nowadays Bulgaria is on the move and changes are happening every day.
Join us on this exciting journey to visit one hugely rewarding destination and discover a fascinating country with warm and hospitable people.

Day 1: Arrive Sofia airport and direct transfer to Plovdiv


Our guide meet you at Sofia airport. Direct transfer Sofia airport Plovdiv. ( two hours drive).

Arrive in Plovdiv. Overnight Plovdiv.

Day 2: All day in Plovdiv

Breakfast in the hotel.
Plovdiv is majestic! It is the 6th most ancient city in the world. If you love art and Roman archaeology Plovdiv is fantastic place!

Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second biggest city, which treasures a history that goes back thousands of years, traces of which have survived to the present day. The Thracians founded Plovdiv during the Neolithic period in the 2nd millennium BC. The Old Quarter was built in the 18th-19th centuries as the centre of the Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Along steep cobblestone lanes, behind stone walls and iron-studded heavy oak gates, one could glimpse at verdure and flowers, surrounding the typical Plovdiv symmetrical houses with their painted facades, oriels and jetties and grid windows. The St. Constantine and St. Helena Church completed in 1832, contains murals painted in 1836 by Zachary Zograph, the best known Bulgarian National Revival painter.
We will visit:
• The Roman period archaeological finds and sites, dating from the 2nd – 3rd century: the Forum, the Stadium, the Fortress Walls, and, above all, the fabulous Amphitheatre, which was built during the time of Emperor Trajan (98-117). It has 28 rows with tiers of marble seats, which can accommodate over 3 500 spectators and today is still functioning
• The Old Town with spectacular architecture of the National Period (18th – 19th century)
• The Episopal Basilica

Overnight Plovdiv.

Day 3: Transfer Day Plovdiv-  Kazanlak in the Rose Valley, known also as the Valley of The Thracian Kings.

Breakfast at the hotel.
Depart Plovdiv for Kazanlak.
En route visit Hissar (modern Hissarya) a Late Roman spa town, where we will see the remains of the fortifications and baths.
 Already during the second century AD, there were Roman baths here and at least one temple dedicated to the water nymphs. No doubt the healing properties of the water encouraged visitors to the region and accounts for its early prosperity. However, it is as a late Roman city that Hissar is best known. We do not know for certain the name of this ancient city but it is probably Diocletianopolis, founded by Emperor Diocletian c. AD 300.

Continue our  picturesque drive to  the famous Valley of Roses to explore the town of Kazanlak. The Valley of Roses is the home of the exquisite Bulgarian rose oil, also known as "attar of roses," and is Bulgaria's major center of rose oil production. We'll visit a rose oil distillery in the area to learn about centuries-long traditions of rose oil production and its modern development.
The area around Kazanlak became famous for recent breathtaking archaeological finds dating back to the golden times of the Thracian city of Seuthopolis, and therefore has been named Valley of the Thracian Kings. Here we'll learn about Thracian history and culture and will visit the replica site of the world-famous 4th century BC Thracian tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We visit the History Museum in Kazanlak, housing the latest breathtaking archaeological discoveries from the Valley of the Thracian kings. We will see the bronze head of Seuthes III, King of the Odryssoi and the founder of Seuthopolis; an incredibly beautiful gold wreath; and many other gold and silver artifacts from 4th – 3rd centuries BC.
Overnight Kazanlak.

Day 4: Transfer Day: Kazanlak- Varna. En route visit Nessebar,  UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Kazanlak for Varna. En route visit Nessebar, UNESCO Heritage Site on the Black sea coast.
Guided excursion in Nessebar, ancient Messambria, which is another renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bulgaria. It is particularly beautiful both in its location on a headland by the sea, and because of its many brightly painted 18th and 19th century traditional timber houses and cobbled streets. It is also famous for the impressive remains of fortifications and for the well-preserved late Byzantine churches (built in the period 11th - 14th centuries at the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom). We visit the beautiful Archaeology Museum of Nessebar.
 We visit St Stefan Church 11-13 c. Guided sightseeing tour of the old town of  Nessebar. Depart for Varna, arrive and settle in at the hotel.
Arrive in Varna.

Overnight Varna.

Day 5:  All Day in Varna

Breakfast at the hotel.

We visit the fabulous Archaeology Museum in Varna to see the renowned collection of the world's oldest manufactured gold. It was excavated in a prehistoric necropolis close to the city dating 4600 - 4200 BC.  The necropolis contained more than three thousand golden objects together weighting 6 kg (13.2 lb) Two large ceramic plates are also beyond our knowledge of this age- they are decorated with stylized geometrical pattern executed in golden paint. The archeologists point out that the find of Varna Copper Age necropolis was as important as the discovery of Heinrich Schliemann at ancient Troy and that  Varna necropolis is at least 1500 years older than Troy. Varna civilization was a highly developed civilization, the most ancient civilization of Europe  which was even older than the Mesopotamian and the Egypt civilizations. That civilization steel keeps its secrets and sacred knowledge.

Afternoon: Free time to explore  the town.

Day 6: Transfer Day: Varna- Veliko Tarnovo. En Route visit Madara Horse Ride Relief, UNESCO Site. En route visit Sveshtary Tomb, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Varna for to Veliko Turnovo.

En route visit The Madara Horseman rock-cut relief ( 8th century), a UNESCO World Heritage Siteis a relief cut into the rocks, a unique monument both for Bulgaria and for Europe, created in the 8th century. The relief is located in the vicinity of the town of Shumen, hewn out at a height of 23 m above the basis of a rocky formation. It depicts a triumphant ruler in a symbolic hunting scene. The horseman has spread a lion /symbolizes a powerful enemy/ with his lance. He is being followed by a dog /symbolizes his loyal people/, and led by a bird. The figures are almost of life-size and the scene covers some 40 sq meters. The figures are surrounded by inscriptions in Greek, telling about important events that happened in the period 705 - 831.
The sacred rocks of the Madara plateau and the caves inside them were a major spiritual center during the period of the First Bulgarian State (681-1085).

En route visit Sveshtary Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (4th - 3rd centuries BC), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, unanimously consideredmiracle of Thracian sepulchral architecture, was discovered below Ginina Mogila mound in 1982 during regular archaeological excavations.
Built of large limestone blocks, it consists of a ‘dromos’ (corridor) and three premises (chambers), each of which is covered by a separate vault. The decoration of the central (burial) chamber is exceptionally rich. Four different Doric and one Corinthian column support a frieze with triglyphs and metopes, between those there are ten female figures (caryatids) with uplifted arms and above them, in the lunette of the vault, is the picturesque scene of deification of the deceased ruler. A massive decorative stone door (naiskos) hid the burial bed from the eyes of the mortals.
A second humbler bed was designed for the beloved wife, who also followed the deceased in his afterlife, while his favorite horses were laid in the lateral chamber and in front of the entrance to the antechamber. Owing to its remarkable architecture and artistic decoration, in 1985 the Sveshtari tomb joined the world cultural and historic heritage under the protection of UNESCO.
A remarkable monument of Thracian art, perfect as architecture, it amazes both with its wealth of sculptural ornaments – the caryatides below the vault, rosettes, styled ox heads, garlands, colonnades, as well ritual of harmonization painted in vibrant colors.

Arrive in Veliko Tarnovo.
Overnight  Veliko Turnovo.
 

Day 7:  All day in Veliko Tarnovo.

Breakfast at the hotel.

The scenery of Veliko Tarnovo is breathtaking. Perched on steep hills overlooking the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo is  by all means one of the most picturesque Bulgarian towns. The glory of Veliko Tarnovo comes from the middle ages. It was a capital city of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185 – 1396), where arts, culture and spiritual life flourished. During the time of the Bulgarian National Revival (18th – 19th century) it was an important center of education, crafts and trade, and played the major role in the establishment of modern Bulgaria after the liberation from Ottoman domination in 1878, being the birth-place of the First Bulgarian Constitution. This morning we will enjoy a guided city excursion through the medieval fortress on Tsarevets Hill .
 

We explore the nearby village-museum of Arbanassi, famous for its traditional architecture, and beautifully decorated churches and monasteries, dating from the 17th to 18th centurie. We will visit  the most beautifully decorated St Nativity Church. It was painted in 1597 and 1638 .The Church  is famous with its fascinating scene- Circle of Life. We visit the Konstanaliev House in Arbanassy- an ethnographic museum.
 Free time to explore the Old Town.

Overnight  Veliko Turnovo.

Day 8:  Transfer Day. Veliko Tarnovo-Sofia. En route visit Troyan Monastery and Oreshak.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Depart Veliko Tarnovo for Sofia.

En route visit Troyan Monastery and the charming village of Oreshak.
The Troyan Monastery as a monastery complex is the third in size in Bulgaria, a remarkable monument of culture of national significance. It is situated in the beautiful valley of the river Cherni Osam.
According to the historical documents, the monastery was first founded in 1600 and reconstructed in the period 1830 – 1865 in its present look.
The most significant architectural and cultural monument is the main church “The Assumption of Virgin Mary”.The interior and the exterior of the church are painted in frescos by Zahari Zograf by the Samokov School. The wall-paintings in the church are a rich gallery of the art of Zahari Zograf (1810 – 1853), a top of his art. Along with the presented Bible scenes, he had left a wonderful self-portrait, portraits of donors, the images of St. Cyril and St.
Similarly to other Bulgarian monasteries, this one also has its own miraculous icon, which arrived in the holy monastery during the time of its creation, and is called “St. Mary Troeruchitsa” (Three-handed Virgin Mary). The icon was kept in the monastery until the 13th century, after which it was carried over to Serbia. It was returned back in the monastery in 17th century.
We visit The National Exhibition of Popular and Artistic Craft  located in the village of Oreshak.
This is the only exhibition in the country, which has gathered all the works of Bulgarian artists of all ethnographic regions in Bulgaria in one place.
The exposition includes ten exhibition halls on an area of 4,200 square meters. The exhibition presents unique fretworks, traditional Bulgarian handmade rugs, straw-mats, articles made of ceramics, copper vessels, knitting works and embroidery works.
Except for the live demonstrations of various crafts, such as pottery and wood-carving, visitors themselves can get involved in the making of some articles with their own hands. Various articles and souvenirs are sold here.
Continue drive to Sofia. Arrive in Sofia.

Overnight Sofia.

Day 9: One day excursion to Rila Monastery, UNESCO Site

Breakfast.

One day excursion to visit Rila Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We visit  Rila Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage Site located 120 km (75 miles) south of Sofia in the Rila Mountains, which is an original national museum with a century-old history. The monastery dates back to the 10th century, but has been plundered and burned down several times. The present building was built in mid-19th century. Located in the gorgeous mountain scenery of the mountains, it is considered the highest achievement of Bulgarian monumental architecture of the National Revival period.  Of particular interest are the Museum, and also the 1335 Hrelyo's Tower in the courtyard, which is actually the oldest preserved building, standing alongside the big five-dome church Assumption of the Holy Virgin, which has splendid frescos by some of Bulgaria’s finest artists of the time.
Drive back to Sofia.
Overnight Sofia.

Day 10: In the  morning in Sofia downtown

Breakfast.
Sightsing in downtown Sofia.
Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, was founded more than 7 000 years ago, and has long been an important crossroads between Asia Minor and Europe. Sofia’s monuments attest to the many cultures and civilizations that flourished here.
•    The ancient Serdica Fortifications dating from the 3rd-5th century
•    The 4th century St. George’s Rotunda famous for its unique frescoes and original architecture. Its majestic figures illustrate the development of Christian Painting over several centuries, making Rotunda one of the gems of Bulgarian and East European culture
•    The magnificent Alexander Nevski Memorial Church is a masterpiece of late 19th – early 20th century architecture, splendidly decorated. It was designed by the Russian architect Pomerantzev in 1912. This is the biggest Orthodox Church on the Balkans built in post-Byzantium style
•    The beautiful Banya Bashi Mosque built in 1566 by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The mosque takes its name from the neighbouring Central baths (in the Turkish language, "banya bashi" means "a lot of baths")
•    St. Sophia basilica, 6th century, is one of the most valuable pieces of early Christian architecture in the Balkans
•    Battenberg Square with its emblematic landmarks: we will see from outside: The former Royal Palace: the Presidency building, and building of the Bulgarian National Bank
•    We will see from outside: The National Theatre designed by the architectural firm of Helmer & Felmer from Vienna. The style of the building is a mixture of the neo-Baroque and Secession style
•    We will see from outside: The neo-Renaissance building of the Bulgarian Parliament /1884-1886/ designed by architect Konstantin Yovanovic
•    We will see from outside: The Central Military Club, built in the same neo-Renaissance style
•    The Sofia University, spectacular designed by the French architect Breansson
Drive to the outskirts of Sofia to visit Boyana Church,  UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Boyana Church is one of the most important and valuable antiquities, of exceptional historical and artistic significance. It is situated at the foot of the mountain of Vitosha. The oldest part of the church dates back to the early 11th century. In 1295, the two-story part of the church was built and the rest was added in the middle of the 19th century.
Early afternoon  transfer to Sofia airport.
End of our program.

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