North central Bulgaria is separated from Romania by the Danube River. The northern part of this region is on the Danubian Plain, a picturesque region formed from hills and plateaux dissected by river valleys. Historically it was here we find the heart of what was the Second Bulgarian Empire. The historical capital of that empire was city of Veliko Tarnovo, today its unique urban Medieval architecture makes this a popular tourist destination. The old part of the city is situated on three hills that are cut through by the meanders of the Yantra River. In contrast, the city of Ruse is known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and often referred to as ‘Little Vienna’. Along much of the southern boundary of this region are the Balkan Mountains, with many small Medieval villages. The Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex offers visitors an opportunity to see a more rural Medieval architectural tradition. Along the lower Danube River a Roman road was built during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. This formed part of the military fortifications known as the Danubian Limes, Oescus and Novae were two military towns along this frontier.
The north central region includes the provinces of Pleven, Lovech, Veliko, Turnovo, Gabrovo and Ruse.
The archaeological site of Novae, a few kilometres to the east of present-day town of Svishtov, has the remains of a Roman legionary base and a late Roman town. Originally established by the Roman military as part of the Danubian Limes in the 1st century AD, a substantial town developed soon thereafter that reached peak prosperity during the reign of Justinian in the 6th century AD. Attacks by the Slavs and Avars in the 7th century devastated the town. Photo © Kleo73
Originally a Thracian settlement, under Roman rule the town became an important military post. Oescus was one of a number of military towns along the Danubian Limes. Oescus was joined via bridge across the Danube to the ancient city of Sucidava (now the Romanian city of Corabia), so it was here that major roads from Serdica (Sofia) and Philippopolis (Plovdiv) converged. Excavations began here in 1904, and the recovered artefacts can now be seen at the Regional History Museum at Pleven. Photo © Bin im Garten
The Historical Museum in Pleven (Регионален исторически музей) is one of the largest in Bulgaria. Over 5,000 objects tell the story of the region’s archaeology, ethnography, the Bulgarian National Revival and the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, modern history, and natural history. In particular, the numismatic collection of some 25,000 coins is one of the richest in Bulgaria. The building is itself a historical landmark, built in the 1880s by an Italian architect for military barracks. Photo © Todor Bozhinov [Website]
The Etara open-air museum (Архитектурно-етнографски комплекс „Етър“) is a seven hectare ethnographic park that presents Bulgarian customs, culture and craftsmanship, particularly as they relate to the Bulgarian National Revival period (also called the Bulgarian Renaissance). Architectural features include Bulgarian revival houses, a beautifully decorated house with 21 windows and a clock tower. Visitors get to see a wide range of crafts, such as wood-carving, pottery, metal work and needlework. Photo © BloodIce [Website]
The Battenberg Palace, built at the beginning of the 1880s, now houses the Regional Historical Museum. Exhibitions include palaeontological specimens found in the area, archaeology artefacts from various periods from prehistory through to the Medieval, as well as an extensive ethnographic collection. Highlights of the museum’s collections include the Borovo Treasure, a Thracian hoard of five silver gilt items, and a bronze helmet thought to have belonged to one of Alexander the Great’s soldiers. Photo © ZioDave [Website]
Capital: Sofia Language: Bulgarian Time Zone: UTC + 3hrs Telephone Country Code: +359 Electricity: 220V/50Hz European plug
The Bulgarian currency is the Bulgarian Lev, plural Leva (лев, abbreviated лв). The Lev has been pegged to the Euro at 1.95583 Lev for 1 Euro. The Euro is accepted by some businesses. Credit cards are accepted in the big cities and at major attractions and hotels, but Bulgaria is largely a cash economy in the more rural parts of the country.
The following guidebooks for Bulgaria are available on Amazon.com (see the same set of books on Amazon.co.uk):