- Destination: Sofia, Melnik, Bansko, Dobarsko, Plovdiv, Kazanlak, Etara, Tryavna, Veliko Tarnovo
- Highlights: Rila Monastery, Kmetovtsi village, Bojentsi village, Arbanassi village, Troyan Monastery, Koprivshtitsa village
- Duration: 10 Days.
Day 1: Arrival at the Sofia Airport. Transfer to the hotel, short rest or we will pick you up directly from your hotel. Walking tour in the city center - visit of St. Nedelya Church, the Statue of St Sofia – the symbol of the city, the Parliament square, the Presidency, National Theater, the Ruins of Serdica and the Rotonda St George 4th c. AC, the Russian Church, the St. Sophia early Christian basilica, which has given the city its name, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – the biggest and the most beautiful on the Balkan Peninsula, the Monument of Alexander II – Tzar Liberator (1902), the Parliament. In the afternoon – time at leisure. Dinner. Overnight.
Day 2: Departure to Melnik – the smallest Bulgarian town and the wine capital of the country. Accommodation. Visit Kordopulova Kashta (Kordopulov’s House) built in a 1754. Wine tasting. Visit Rojen Monastery (6 km). Return to Melnik. Dinner in a traditional restaurant. Optional: Performance of “Lebivino” folklore group.
Day 3: Departure to Dobarsko village. On our way we will pass through Bansko and will make a short stop over for a brief tour of the town. Continue to Dobarsko. Accommodation in a traditional house. In the afternoon - visit “Shtrokaloto” Waterfall – 30 minutes walking from the village through a picturesque area. Optional: visit the church “St. St. Theodor Tiron and Theodor Stratilat” and the Church “Candlemas” where the visit could be accompanied with church chants. In the late afternoon – cooking lessons and traditional crafts. Overnight.
Day 4: Departure to Rila Monastery – the biggest and most famous monastery in Bulgaria, included in the list of UNESCO. Visit of the monastery and its museum. Departure to Plovdiv. Accommodation. Dinner in a traditional restaurant with folklore program. Overnight.
Day 5: Visit Bachkovo Monastery (25 km from Plovdiv). This is the second biggest Monastery in Bulgaria founded in 1083 by two Georgian brothers. The oldest preserved building is from 11th century. The murals in the Refectory decorated in 17th century are considered to be a masterpiece of the European Renaissance Art. Return to Plovdiv. Walking tour of the Old town which is declared an architectural museum reserve with over 150 monuments of culture. Its magnificent houses are turned into museums, galleries, workshops, restaurants. Visit St Konstantin and Elena Church, The Balabanov House, The Nedkovich House, The Ethnographic Museum, the Ancient Roman Amphitheater, The Ancient Stadium at Djoumaya Square, The Fortress Complex on Nebet Tepe, The Roman Odeon. Overnight.
Day 6: Departure to Kazanlak. Visit to Kazanlak Thracian Tomb (4th century B.C) under UNESCO protection (a copy of the original) and the museum of the Rose. We will continue to “Etara” an open air museum. It is the first museum presenting the historic past, economic development and the way of living of the population in 18 - 19th c. The shopping street represents the way crafts were practiced locally in the mid-19th century. Arrival in Kmetovci village. Accommodation in a traditional house. Overnight.
Day 7: Visit Bojentsi village with its little local shop where one can find local herbs and traditional products. The village is a historical-architectural reserve with a lot of old beautiful houses. It is noted for its well-preserved Bulgarian National Revival architecture and history. Return to Kmetovtsi village. Learning how to prepare Bulgarian yogurt and traditional “banitsa” (a kind of salty pastry) and tasting local dishes. Dinner in a traditional ambiance. Overnight.
Day 8: Departure to Tryavna. Visit two very interesting houses from the Bulgarian National Revival Period. Continue to Veliko Tarnovo. Visit to "Tsarevets" - a mediaeval stronghold located on a hill with the same name. It served as the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary fortress and strongest bulwark from 1185 to 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces. 47 churches and 400 residential houses have been discovered in the whole complex. Fortified walls and defensive towers surround the city.
The tower of Baldwin is the most famous and is an evidence for the power of the Bulgarian Kingdom. We will continue our tour by visiting the old Marketplace Samovodska Tcharshia, Only 4 km from Veliko Turnovo is Arbanassi, a charming village with an eventful history and fascinating architecture. Thirty six of its 80 houses and the five local churches have been declared for national monuments of culture. Visit the Konstantsaliev’s House and the Church of Nativity 11 century with very well preserved unique wall paintings. Return to Veliko Tarnovo. Accommodation. Overnight.
Day 9: Departure to Troyan Monastery. Visit Oreshaka permanent exposition. Visit Troyan Monastery – the third biggest in Bulgaria. It was founded in the end of the 16th century. The main church of the monastery was reconstructed during the Bulgarian National Revival period by a master-builder called Konstantin in 1835 soon after the decline of Ottoman Rule was marked. The richly decorated interior and exterior of the church were painted between 1847 and 1849 by the great Bulgarian icon painter Zahari Zograph. The Troyan Monastery also keeps one of the holiest icons in Bulgarian Orthodoxy, the Three-Handed Virgin since the 17th century.
The Troyan Monastery is also famous for its incredible wood-carving. The oldest carving is the marvelous wood carved iconostasis of the chapel „St. Nikola” which is distinguished with its genuine artistic qualities. Optional: On our way we can have a stop over for a lunch in Karlovo. Possiblity for performance of a folklore dance group “Kukeri” – upon request. Continue to Koprivshtitsa. The village boasts a large number of architectural monuments from the Revival period, 383 in all, most of which have been restored to their original appearance. Collections of ethnographical treasures, old weapons, National Revival works of art, fine fretwork, household weaves and embroidery, national costumes and typical Bulgarian jewelry has also been preserved. Visit some of the most interesting houses. Accommodation in a traditional house. Dinner in a traditional ambiance. Overnight.
Day 10: Departure to Sofia. Transfer to the airport or accommodation at the hotel.
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Europe Bulgaria Local Culture Cultural Journey Archeology/History
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