The Ministry of Tourism of Bulgaria is currently launching a new campaign for the Israeli public to expose and present the spa, ski, hot spring, culinary and rich culture sites of the Balkan pearl
The exotic and fascinating Bulgaria is rich in pampering resorts and spas for the whole family; Ski resorts at reasonable prices; Natural springs with thermal water; Fine cuisine; Mesmerizing views; Healing springs; Monasteries and churches; Excellent wines; High-level European golf courses; Fishing villages; Interesting museums and fascinating culture
The Ministry of Tourism of Bulgaria is currently launching a campaign for the Israeli public to expose and present the spa, ski, mineral springs, picturesque towns and rich culture of the Balkan pearl.
Bulgaria is located in southeastern Europe in the Balkan Peninsula. The nature of Bulgaria is very diverse: nature reserves, magical beaches, forests, stalactite caves, canyons, lakes, hot springs and snow in the high mountain peaks: the Rila Mountains, the Rhodope Mountains and the Pyrenees. The forests in Bulgaria make up about 37 percent of the country and the mountains occupy more than half of its area. Bulgaria has a large sunflower oil industry and is considered the No. 1 exporter of rose oil in Europe. A kilogram of rose oil costs more than gold – about $ 10,000.
Bulgaria is one of the richest countries in Europe in spas and one of the leading countries in the world in the number of mineral springs (600 in number), of which over 80 percent have medicinal properties. The territory of Bulgaria is four times more than the State of Israel (about 111,000 square kilometers). It has many nature reserves. Bulgaria attracts birds from around the world. It has a fascinating history that combines Thracian, Roman and Byzantine culture.
The focus of the campaign this time is in the southwestern, wild and underrecognized part of Bulgaria. There are high snowy mountains, rich spas, hot springs mineral springs, wild forests, fine cuisine and rich culture.
Starting from Sofia
We will start the route in the capital Sofia, which is reached by a flight from Israel that lasts about two and a quarter hours. From the airport you can take the metro and reach within a quarter of an hour to the center of Sofia. Another option is to take a taxi or rent a car. One of the special buildings in the center of Sofia that attracts attention is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The cathedral was built in a neo-Byzantine architectural style. Its construction began in 1882 and was completed in 1912. Its maximum height is 53 meters and its dome height is 48 meters. The church was established to commemorate the soldiers of the Army of the Russian Empire, who were killed during the Ottoman-Russian War (1878-1877), following which the Principality of Bulgaria was established after about 500 years of Ottoman rule.
Another interesting and impressive structure in Sofia is the Synagogue, which is considered the largest synagogue in the Balkans and the third largest in Europe. The synagogue was inaugurated in 1909 in the presence of Tsar Ferdinand I. The building combines different building styles. The columns are made of Italian marble, and the interior space is decorated with Venetian-style wood carvings and mosaics in the windows. The chandelier weighs about 1,700 kg. In 1955 the synagogue was declared a national cultural center of Bulgaria. Two prominent 5-star hotels in Sofia are the Intercontinental Sofia and the Grand Hotel Millennium, equipped with a state-of-the-art spa with a salt room, Turkish bath Magnificent and more. Sofia abounds in museums, impressive buildings such as the Opera House, the Ivan Vazov National Theater and the Presidential Building, in parks such as the Borisova Garden and important archeological finds. Vitosha Avenue is considered Sofia’s main shopping street.
Bansko Ski Resort
On the way to the Bansko ski resort you pass through the bear park in Lyza. This is a shelter for bears from all over the Balkans. The same bears were captured, tortured, and forced to entertain passers-by and in the park at Litz they undergo rehabilitation and appropriate treatment. There are currently 19 bears in the park. The bear park was established on the southern slopes of the Rila Mountains, in an area of 12 dunams surrounded by fences – in an area similar to the natural habitat of bears. In the wonderful town of Bansko is the largest ski resort in Bulgaria. Bansko is located at an altitude of 925 meters on the northern slopes of the Pyrenees. The Bansko ski resort has 14 ski runs, with a total length of 70 km. The highest point on the site is located at an altitude of 2,560 meters. The site has 14 ski lifts and hosts large international competitions. Compared to Israel, one of the best hotels in Bansko is the luxurious Kempinski Hotel, which has 157 alpine-style rooms and a spectacular view from the balconies in the rooms, which overlook the Pyrenees. Sauna such as: Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, infrared cabin, aromatic steam bath with the highlight being a unique snow room in the sauna complex. One of the recommended restaurants in Bansko with a rich menu of excellent meats is Obetsanova mehana restaurant.
Pictured above: from the town of Bansko
Yagodinska Stalactite Cave is located about 20 km south of the town of Devin, known for its hot baths. The cave is 10 km long and is considered one of the longest caves in Bulgaria. From there we will continue in a jeep to visit a breathtaking lookout called the Eagle Eye (Orlovo Oko) at an altitude of 1,563 meters. We will not miss a visit to the impressive and beautiful Trigadd Mall. This is a karst canyon, at a depth of 250 meters, with steep walls on both sides of the road. It is highly recommended to visit the picturesque village of Shiroka Laka, located at the foot of the highest peak of the Rhodope Mountains. The houses are built of stone and wooden beams and walnut trees adorn the pastoral alleys. Another major ski resort in the south of the Rhodope Mountains is “Pamporovo”, at an altitude of 1,650 meters above sea level and with white slopes that stretch over 65 km of natural beauty. The site is suitable for beginners and professionals. Here too you can enjoy especially affordable and attractive packages.
Rhodope Mountains and Mount Rila
Another impressive tourist destination is the Bachkovo Monastery, the second largest monastery in Bulgaria. The monastery, built in 1083 and later renovated, is surrounded on its sides by the Rhodope Mountains which give it a magical atmosphere. Inside the monastery church are buried side by side two Righteous Among the Nations – Metropolitan Stephen and Metropolitan Kirill, heads of the Protestant Church in Sofia and Plovdiv, who took an important part in rescuing Bulgarian Jews in World War II. A visit to Bulgaria can not be complete without a visit to the magical Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. The city was crowned in 2019 as the cultural capital of Europe. The main attractions in the city are the Roman Theater, the Ethnographic Museum, the Cape Town district, the Old Town and more. The next stop on our journey is the Bulgarian Spa Alliance “Velingrad”, on the slopes of the Rhodope Mountains. The city is known for its healing springs. The Grand Hotel Velingrad is a perfect place for a spa holiday with indoor and outdoor swimming pools with mineral water and a great and pampering spa complex. We will end the trip with the Borovetz ski resort, which is reminiscent of the Alps, and is located at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the foot of the Mousala summit, which is 2,925 meters high. The trails meander on the slopes of Mount Rilla. The site has a variety of ski slopes for all levels and offers a variety of après ski options. The site has restaurants, hotels of all levels, shops and a good elevator system. Rilla Hotel is located at the end of the ski slopes and offers a spa complex, restaurants and a host of other treats for the whole family.
Source: כתבות – מסע אחר by www.masa.co.il.
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