Bulgaria – Thracian Treasures, Roman Cities & Bulgarian Churches



This was a 12-day Andante Travels tour, with most of the group from the UK.  Margaret Grant and I left on the 9th, had rooms near Heathrow on the 10th, joined the group flight to Sofia on the 11th, and we again had hotel rooms near Heathrow on the 22nd, with a flight home on the 23rd.

Most of the photos are "geotagged".  This adds GPS data (latitude, longitude, elevation, etc.) to the photo metadata, just as the camera brand and model, date and time, exposure info, etc. are automatically recorded by the camera itself.  Therefore, you can see exactly where each photo was taken, usually to within a few meters.  The “Photos” links below don’t show the geotagged information, but Google’s Picasa web site does an excellent job with geotagged photos, including integration with Google Maps and Google Earth.  A few photos were not geotagged; these were mostly indoor shots, or those shot one day when my geologger was in my hotel room instead of on me!

The photos here are not edited, except for adding the GPS metadata, though some would benefit from some adjustments.  They’re size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you individual photos or a DVD with the full-resolution photos.  Most of the indoor photos were taken without flash, due to rules or simply respect for others, so they may be blurry, especially at larger sizes.  Most museums either prohibited photos or charged a fee for photography.

The itinerary below is from the Andante document, with links to the photos added for each day.

Bulgaria – Thracian Treasures - Roman Cities & Bulgarian Churches

Saturday 11th – Wednesday 22nd October 2014


Day 1:Fly from London Heathrow on British Airways flight BA0890, departing 08:20, arriving in Sofia at 13:25. Travelling by coach, en route to our hotel we shall visit Yunatsite Tell. Dinner and overnight at the Novotel Hotel, Plovdiv.  Photos  Picasa

Day 2:All day on foot visiting the sites of Plovdiv, founded by Philip of Macedon.  Intense Roman activity on this site means that little is left of the early city; but a great deal of the Roman one, including the forum, stadium, fortress and amphitheatre. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at the Novotel Hotel, Plovdiv.  Photos  Picasa

Day 3:Early drive north to the sleepy village of Hissar, famed for its hot water mineral spring.  Continue to the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’ and first to Kazanluk (World Heritage Site) with its eponymous tomb (we will be visiting the excellent replica but hope that we will once again he granted permission to enter the original tomb when we are there).  We also visit further remarkable tombs of Ostrusha, Arsenal and Golyama Kosmatka. Drive back to Plovdiv for dinner and overnight at the Novotel Hotel.  Photos  Picasa

Day 4:A visit to the Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo is followed by Stara Zagora to see the extraordinary, Neolithic house complete with shelves and pots and hearth.  It is more widely known as a prosperous city founded by Emperor Trajan.  We shall be taken beneath the city streets to a Roman house decorated with excellent mosaics. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at the Efir Hotel, Stara Zagora.  Photos  Picasa

Day 5: We begin the day at the huge settlement mound of Karanovo. This tell represents successive phases of occupation from the 6th to the 2nd millennium BC.  Drive east to Nessebar (World Heritage Site), ancient Messambria, founded by the Thracians and later a thriving Greek trading colony.  The island is connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge and we visit the old town to view churches, walls and some lovely 19th century timber houses.  Drive north to Varna. Dinner and overnight at the Modus Hotel, Varna.  Photos  Picasa

Day 6:Visit the superb History Museum in Varna, housing all of the famous gold work from the Varna Copper Age necropolis. Restaurant dinner in Varna and overnight at the Modus Hotel.  Photos  Picasa

Day 7:The Madara Horseman rock relief (World Heritage Site). Sveshtari Thracian tomb (World Heritage Site) with unique polychrome reliefs of half-human, half-plant caryatids. West to Veliko Turnovo. Dinner and overnight at the Meridian Bolyarski Hotel, Veliko Tarnovo.  Photos  Picasa

Day 8:All day in Veliko Turnovo, capital of the medieval Bulgarian tsars, dramatically situated on a gorge over the river. We explore the large medieval castle which dominates the city, as well as some glorious early monasteries and churches for which the town is justly famous. Restaurant meal and overnight at the Meridian Bolyarski Hotel.  Photos  Picasa

Day 9: Leave Veliko and drive to Nicopolis ad Istrum, the ancient city site excavated by Professor Andrew Poulter, who first set up this tour for Andante. On to the traditional villages of Arbanassi and Etar, continue to Sofia. Dinner and overnight at the Central Park Hotel, Sofia.  Photos  Picasa

Day 10: We view collections of the National Museum of History in Sofia before visiting Boyana church (World Heritage Site) with its remarkable 13th century frescoes. Our exploration of Sofia continues with the walls of ancient Serdica (the Roman name for Sofia), St George’s Rotunda and St Sofia Basilica. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at the Central Park Hotel. Photos  Picasa

Day 11: Head into the beautiful foothills of the Rila mountains, to visit the eponymous Rila Monastery (World Heritage Site) - an iconic (in the literal sense!) masterpiece and one of Bulgaria’s most famous sites, high in the Rila mountains. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at the Central Park Hotel.  Photos  Picasa

Day 12: Morning visit to Sofia National Archaeological Museum with its excellent collections. Independent lunch. Return flight BA0891 departs Sofia 14:20; arrives London Heathrow 15:45.  Photos  Picasa


Bulgaria 2014

Bulgaria – Thracian Treasures, Roman Cities & Bulgarian Churches

October 11-22, 2014