About town of Balchik

View on Balchik from the coast

The resort town of Balchik, situated in one of the most comfortable of the Black Sea bays, sheltered by Cape Kaliakra, is the jewel of the northern Black Sea coast. Beautiful nature, ancient history, tranquility and comfort of the city create a peaceful atmosphere in which tourists and visitors submerge. The city streets are arranged in tiers on the hillsides, creating an unique image of the city.

Being in close proximity to major cities and resorts of the country, Balchik is available not only as a place for long rest, and is perfectly suited for a memorable sightseeing tour. 40 km from Varna, 35 km away to Dobrich and just 10 km away separated this wonderful city from the modern resort of Albena, one of the biggest Bulgarian resort on the Black Sea. Regular shuttle trucks, shuttle buses depart every 30 minutes, and numerous taxis allow you to travel along the coast at any time convenient for you.

What else is unique in Balchik? Calm sea, several beaches, many cafes and restaurants with excellent food and reasonable prices. Plus, two kilometers from the coast of the port, the third largest after Varna and Bourgas in Bulgaria and Yacht Club with the best equipment and the protection of the Black Sea coast. City fully meet your expectations!

History and sights

Avenue of the Botanical Garden in Balchik

Balchik - one of the oldest towns on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, preserved to this day traces of many cultures. That is why a special mention deserves the famous museum complex of the city, consisting of four museums and a few open areas. The main place is occupied by the Historical Museum, located in the central square. Lovers of ancient history will appreciate the unique finds from the Bronze Age, archaeologists made here on the territory of the ancient land of Moesia, situated between the Lower Danube and the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Drina, and later inhabited by Thracian tribes.

Spring in the Balchik Botanical Garden

The most extensive collection of findings relates to the period of antiquity. It was then, in the III century BC. e., the site of an ancient Thracian settlement dating back to the first millennium BC. e., Miletus Greeks founded the colony, giving it the name Krunon, which means "city of springs". Terrain and still abounds with numerous karst springs, and everyone can enjoy the beauty of the places where according to legend, the goddess of beauty Aphrodite was born from sea foam. The museum exhibition gives the opportunity to admire the beautiful Greek and Roman statues. By the way, precisely because of the statue of the god Dionysus, according to legend stranded by sea, the ancient city for the second time changes its name. In the center of the city a temple was built and Krunon was renamed to Dionysopolis (Gr.). A rich collection of ceramics of the Hellenistic period in the museum, as well as high quality of local grape varieties farmed here, shows the inhabitants worship to the god of wine and revelry. You can not only see, but also taste the gifts of the Greek god,  - use this after visiting the museum!

Wine House at Queen Mary's palace. Here you can taste Bulgarian wines for free.

With the arrival of 29-27 years. BC. e. Romans in the city built a big stronghold with underground labyrinths and Dionysopolis become a naval base. Being a stronghold of the Roman Empire on the sea, the city continued to develop as a market town, silver and gold coins were minted here. Among the most interesting findings of the period - coins with profiles of Tiberius II Constantine, Agrippina, Justinian. Numismatic Collection is considered to be the best exhibit of the museum. Two years ago, the goddess Cybele temple has been found during the construction works. The goddess Cybele was the patron saint of all life on the Earth, revered in Asia Minor, Greece and throughout the Roman Empire. The temple, built more than two thousand years ago, according to experts, is preserved almost in its original form. The upcoming exhibition will include a number of inscriptions and architectural ornaments, the bas-relief depicting a Thracian horseman, a bas-relief with three nymphs, several statues, a couple of which, presumably, Aphrodite and Dionysus. According to the director of the Historical Museum Dimitar Kanavrov, finding significantly expanded numismatic collection of the museum too, but the most valuable things are the two statues of the greatest mother of the gods, seated on a throne with the sacred lion cub in her hands.

Going from antiquity to the Middle Ages, have a look on the small room, which presents tools and women's jewelry of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. In those days, in VII century, the city was renamed in Karvuna and became a strategically important administrative center of the territory Karvunskaya Mountain (Karvunska Hora), and in 1320 - the capital of semi-autonomous Duchy of Dobrudzha (Dobrujansko despotstvo). After getting under the power of the Ottoman Empire, and probably in memory of the boyar Balik, headed by the former principality, the town changed its name to the modern - Balchik .

Most part of the exposure, including the various documents and photographs, represents a dynamic socio-political way of Balchik after the Liberation it by Russia from Turkish yoke in 1878; the exhibition of the Ethnographic Museum in Balchik almost entirely devoted to this time. The museum is located in a beautiful restored house of balchik's merchant Atanas Shterev, a former merchant of wheat, and is an amazing monument of the historical heritage of Bulgaria. The museum exposition illustrates the material culture of the population in those years, as well as the development of local crafts and arts. Presented samples of furniture, household utensils and interior of rural and urban houses transfer its guests into the authentic atmosphere of the country of the end of the XIX century.

House in Balchik in Bulgaria

Fans of architecture of that time can take a stroll through the picturesque architectural complex of the Bulgarian Renaissance with the old school, located at ul. Hristo Botev, d. 4. The well-preserved houses in two, sometimes three floors, with a typical for that time overhanging upper floors above the ground were built of stone and brick, which in combination with wood frame structures gived them special architectural lightness. The central exhibit of the complex is Orthodox Church of St. St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors and fishermen, built in 1866, allegedly on the site of a medieval temple.

Art Gallery crowns museum and aesthetic heritage of Balchik City. It is located at Father Paisius street, b. 4. The works of contemporary Bulgarian and foreign artists, represented here, attract the attention of critics and connoisseurs. In the holiday season gallery hosts exhibitions of famous masters.

For many centuries Balchik does not lose its charm. Lush greenery, white rocks, mineral springs and located in a style of Greek amphitheater buildings - the city is considered to be the pearl of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The great Ovid, who visited the city in the autumn of the year 9 A.D. on the way to exile to the city of Tomi (today Constanta, Romania), admiring the magnificent view of the city from the sea, he exclaims: "I hail you, white stone town, with your unique beauty» .

Side view of the Palace of the Romanian Queen Maria in Balchik in Bulgaria

"White City", so fascinated the Roman poet, appealed not only artists. In the mid 20-ies of XX century, the city captivates with its beauty Queen Mary (1875-1938), wife of the Romanian King Ferdinand I (1865-1927), daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. Balchik with its watermills and leisurely way of life as well as possible approached to the Queen in her desire to build quiet nest. This name - Quiet Nest - was given by Queen to her official summer residence built in one and a half kilometers from the city center, between three hills, and called on the Romanian style "Castle in Balchik» (Castelul din Balcic). Designed by Italian architects Americo (Americo) and Augustine (Augustino) from 1924 to 1931, it included a central three-storey palace with a towering above him minaret, stone gazebo with stunning columns and a number of buildings in the modern style of the time, which includes several guest villas. The original discovery of designers became the throne Queen, built under an old tree on the lower level, overlooking the beach. Sitting on it, Queen Maria loved to watch the sunset, and as the rumor says, sighing about some of her beloved Turkey.

Romanian sovereign was very romantic. The small chapel, which became a kind of gift to the Queen from her son in law at the beginning of the XIX century, deserves special mention. Being built on the island of Crete, it was dismantled and moved to the residence. At the new place the iconostasis of Cyprus was placed in the chapel, as well as the frescoes depicting the Queen Mary and her daughter Iliana in full growth. The Queen was very fond of these wonderful places and bequeathed to bury her heart at the altar, specially brought from Greece to the Holy Virgin chapel, where it was stored until 1940.

Bed of Queen Mary at the Palace in Balchik

Building the residence, architects used free combination of different architectural elements. Such a mixture of European and oriental style is largely due to the desire of the Queen to the rapprochement of the Christian and the Muslim faith. Mary confessed Bahaism and was the first of the royal blood of persons who professed this religion. Looking inside the palace, you can marvel at the unexpected compactness of the interior layout. The three-storey building has only ceremonial chambers, called the smoking-room of the queen, where her Majesty allow herself and her guests to indulge in smoking opium, dining room, located on the second floor and turning now in the gift shop, office, bedroom and bathroom, built on the principle of Turkish baths and preserved in its original form. No architectural luxury: a noble contrast to the white walls and vaulted ceilings with dark brown beams, floors and furniture .

Near the palace the Roman baths are - a favorite vacation spot of the queen, and a little further a private villa - a gift of the Queen to her beloved son Nicholas, who did not want to suit the palace neighborhood with his mother and sister Iliana. Unfortunately, there are no original things of the Queen in the palace. All of them, including a vessel with a heart the Queen, were sent to Romania after the neighboring territories were return to Bulgaria in 1940.

Parks and Gardens

Walk in the park of the Romanian Queen Maria with Russian roots in Balchik in Bulgaria

A beautiful park with a total area of 65 thousand sq.m., designed by the garden architect Jules Janine France (Jules Janine), was laid out in the upper part of the palace. The cultivation of the Palace park lasted until 1936 and its structure imitates the Cretan labyrinth: the path paved with white stone, which in the time of Queen Mary was covered with carpets, wide avenue, lined with millstones and clay jugs imported from Morocco .

A large number of visitors are attracted by the local legend about the silver pit of desires. It is said that man, whose the soul is aggravated with sins, will not see his reflection in it, and few dare to look into the abyss. But this phenomenon does not depend on the sins, it depends on the angle of incidence of the sunlight. But if you hit the well with a coin, thrown over your shoulder, your wish will become true.

Cactus at the Botanical Garden in Balchik In 1955 the park academician Baky Iordanov based a botanical garden, which is still considered the most magnificent in the Balkans. It is second in today's ranking of European parks for its size and richness of the collection, only giving first place to park in Monaco. After analyzing the geographical position and the possibilities of the Balkan climate, academician actively collects flora of different countries. The project was attended by about 400 botanic gardens around the world. As a result, today the collection includes more than 1,000 plant species, such as "sweet" wood, paper wood, rubber, sequoia, ginkgo biloba, magnolia, olive, sand lily and many others, including the extremely rare. The pride of the Botanical Garden - alley, with more than 250 species of cacti and aloes, with a total area of more than 1000 square meters. On the background of the South European landscape these amazing plants look very expressive, because some of them reach a height of 5 meters. Gardeners care about cacti, puting them in the greenhouse for the winter. Separate masterpiece of landscape art - an outstanding collection of roses. More than 50 different species of this "queen of flowers" form a continuous alley, replacing each other with colorful garlands of flowers, blooming in May and till August gladdening the eyes of visitors.

Located under the patronage of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, theSofia University Botanical Garden is a fabulous bouquet of colors, smells and variety of flowers, shrubs and trees of the most picturesque corners of the world. Every year thousands of tourists visit the architectural and park complex "The Palace" - Balchik's amazing attraction. It is waiting for you - come!

Cuisine

Crown - Restaurant is located on the coast at the entrance to the Botanical Garden in Balchik

After a long day of museums, you can enjoy local cuisine. In Balkan generous portions and low prices - it is largely due to high competition. In the high season prices at various cafe and restaurants are practically identical, and therefore you can visit as many restaurants as possible. After all, everyone has their own unique atmosphere and cuisine that distinguishes them from each other. Restaurants, bars, cafes are found here at every step, hitting the imagination of visitors with menu wealth: soups, fresh vegetables, Russian salad, chicken salad with mushrooms, and fish dishes - trout with honey sauce, shrimp, breaded, shark meat, and much more. The choice is huge.

Stuffed trout, fresh tomatoes, eggplant cooked in a special way - lunch in Balchik

Desserts and drinks are as good as main menu. A favorite lady's dessert of the Bulgarian coast is Melba, a salad of sliced fruits with a variety of ice cream. Regulars of cocktail cards are ment and mastic. Mastic, strong drink based on aniseed extract, has a very pleasant, mild taste and flavor and increases sexual desire. Ask the bartender to add to the milk-white mastic, mixed with water, green mint liqueur ment and red tomato juice. Content of the glass will be similar to the Bulgarian flag - red, green and white. Very patriotic and delicious!

If you prefer to create your own culinary masterpieces, you can find in Balchik a lot of small shops where you can buy all the necessary products: bread, meat, fish, sausage, cheese, milk, butter, yogurt, cereals, pasta, sweets, beer, wine, drinking water, juices and much more. At the central town market you can buy fruits and vegetables. Prices are much lower than in the neighboring resort towns, such as Albena, but higher than in the market in Varna or Dobrich.