Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Balchik is a small seaside port town, For a long time knowned as the White ToWn for the mainly white colour of its lime rocks.
In the very plateau where the Balchik city is located today, once there was a Thracian village.
In 5th century BC Greek settlers occupied this area. They were charmed by the beautiful beach and founded a settlement. Today the city attracts tourists with its unique ancient houses and streets, which preserve the ancient nature. Every street leads to the sea coast and all year round the city is visited by many tourists.
You cannot miss “The Palace” – Quiet Nest Palace, constructed between 1926 and 1937, the formal summer residence of the Romanian queen Maria and the botanical garden. Once a romanian territory, it was visited frequently by the Romanian Queen Maria and so, she decided to built a holiday villa with a huge botanical garden.
This area attracted Romanian aristocrats, due to its mineral water and Karst. The palace complex consists of a number of residential villas, a smoking hall, a wine cellar, a power station, a monastery, a holy spring, a chapel and many other buildings, as well as most notably a park that is today a state-run botanical garden. It has an area of 65,000 m² and accommodates 2000 plant species belonging to 85 families and 200 genera.

One of the garden's main attractions is the collection of large-sized cactus species arranged outdoors on 1000 m², the second of its kind in Europe after the one in Monaco.

Other notable species include the Metasequoia, the Para rubber tree and the Ginkgo.
In our days, you can rent a room in the old Grain house, at the water mill or in the bedrooms of the army units that were guarding that palace. Now these rooms , just as the others 6 villas, are adapted to tourists. In the other part of villa you can visit the “Queen’s Winery House” that offers a rich assortment of special rakias and wines Balkan and Oriental motives were used in the construction of the palace that was carried out by Italian architects Augustino and Americo, while a florist was hired from Switzerland to arrange the park.

The main building's extravagant minaret coexists with a Christian chapel, perfectly illustrating the queen's Bahá'í beliefs. There are many legend about Maria’s parties, about the fact that she and her friend spent time using Opium.
Francis Ford Coppola spent 11 days at the palace shooting scenes of Youth Without Youth.

I recommend you to go to the market- port, where the fishermans leave their daily capture. Here you can enjoy some great cooked fresh little fishes, good beer for those that won’t drive and the fresh air brize coming from the sea ...

Going further from Balcik, you’l get to Kranevo . It has succeeded an ancient Roman stronghold, known as 'Ekrene' or the harbour 'Kraneia'.

Traces of the Roman fortress, which was exploited during the Middle Ages as well, have been found on the southern plateaus above the village.
Between 1913 and 1940 it was part of Romania. An important lighthouse is installed on Cape Ekrene, 3 km south of the village.
Relatively close to Kranevo is the famous Aladzha rock monastery, a part of the Zlatni Pyasatsi natural park.

The bright colours of its wall paintings, dating back to the early Middle Ages. The monk’s cells, common rooms and sanctuaries, dug directly into the limestone rock and situated on two levels high above the ground, were connected via an external staircase. The lower floor hosted the monks’ private cells, common rooms (i.e. kitchen, dining room) and a small church, while the upper level was dedicated entirely to a chapel.
Carbon dating reveals that the medieval rock monastery prospered between 13th and 14th Century during the Second Bulgarian State.

Unfortunately, nowadays only few of the frescoes are preserved (most of these to be found in the chapel) but the experience of visiting a monastery dug high above the ground into a steep rock is unforgettable. The monastery is declared a cultural sight and houses a small museum. Less than a kilometer away from the Aladzha Monastery, one can find a similar monastery complex, called Katakombite (The Catacombs). Katakombite has an origin and history similar to those of the Aladzha Monastery, though its remains are far less preserved.

just keep going and you will soon be surprised by the nature...again...
The mouth of the Kamchiya River is situated 34 km south of Varna, or in the middle of the coast line stretching out to the town of Byala. It is a 244.5 km long river in eastern Bulgaria, the longest river on the Balkan Peninsula to flow directly into the Black Sea.

The reserve is named after the Kamchia River along which course this complex protected area is situated, in the immediate vicinity of the Black Sea. The area around the mouth and lower course of the river is remarkable for its variety of habitats - unique flooded forests called "Longoz", wide beaches with sand dunes and old riverbeds. The total area of the protected habitats in the reserve, together with Kamchia Sands Protected Area, adds up to 1.200 ha.

The unusual coexistence of ash, oak, elm, alder and maple trees sometimes rising up to 40-50 m with lianas climbing between the branches creates the impression of a tropical forest, a real tangle of woods. The summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) and several buttercup species (Scilla sp.), as well as ferns, grow in the delta. One can see otter, doe, deer, wild boar and wild cat, among 26 mammal species, sea hawks, eagles, and up to 200 other bird species, including 56 protected ones, and 25 fish species, among others.

The mouth of the Kamchiya River is one of the most beautiful sights along the Bulgarian coast. The region is known for its wide beaches, starting from an area called Paletsa (The Thumb) to the north and ending to the Black Cape near the village of Shkorpilovtsi to the south. A recently-built holiday complex is situated at the river’s mouth. It empties some 9000 liters of water every second into the Black Sea. During the spring, that amount can be as much as 30, 000 liters per second.

Running down through the Balkan Range Kamchia meanders through unique woodland called Longoza.

The "Longoz" forests in the lower course of the river are the best representatives of their kind throughout Europe. They look like a jungle with creepers interweaving with the trees or hanging down like thick draperies. 23 fish species and a lot of mammal species are found in the waters of the river and the adjoining marshlands. But the most interesting of all is the feathered inhabitants of the area. Kamchia is an Important Bird Area situated on the migratory flyway Via Pontica allowing for the observation of various bird species that stop to rest and feed during migration.

The long beach by the town extends from the St. Atanas cape to the north to the southern Mona Petra cape to the south. The town's beach is followed by a small nestling cove and a beach named Irakli after an ancient village of the same name. The St. Nikola cape is several kilometres further to the south where the Balkan Mountains slope into the Black Sea.

Nessebar is one of the oldest towns in Europe, more than 3000 years oldThe town is situated southwards of the last branches of the ancient Hemus Mountain (today’s Stara Planina), which gradually lower to the Black Sea and at Cape Emine their rocks touch the water.

The old town is long only 850 m and is 350 m wide. During the different periods of its existence it has lost 1/3 of its territory, which sank into the sea. Under the water, 80 meters away from the coast still can be seen remains of the fortress’s walls. Nessebar have impressive number of churches, some of the most famous. One of the oldest sanctuaries is the Basilica built on the coast most probably around the beginning of 5th century.

The Old Bishop's Residence located in the centre of the town is probably the most impressive church in Nessebar.