Want to get some basic facts about Bulgaria before traveling to the country? I've got you covered! Below, you can find 59 interesting facts about Bulgaria, covering history, culture, food and more.
Interesting facts about Bulgaria
This post is part of a series of fun facts posts I'm doing for every country I have articles about here on the blog. Given their nature, these posts are research-based and even though a lot of time has gone into them, it's still possible a mistake has snuck in. If you see something that looks incorrect, please let me know at sofie [at] wonderfulwanderings.com and I'll look into it. Thanks!
1. Bulgaria is the homeland of yogurt. Bulgarians call theirs “sour milk” and they think it's what makes them live long lives.
2. Bulgaria is the world's second-biggest exporter of rose oil, an ingredient in most perfumes.
3. As confusing as it may be, Bulgarians shake their head when they mean to say “yes” and nod when they want to say “no”.
4. The country's national instrument is gaida, more commonly known as bagpipes.
5. Bulgaria has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the time of writing.
6. Shopska, also known as Bulgarian salad, won as best dish in Europe in a contest organized by the European Parliament.
7. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has Bulgarian roots. He was named after his Bulgarian grandfather Marko.
8. The legendary Thracian singer, Orpheus, spent his life in ancient Bulgaria. Orpheus is the son of Oeagros, God of the River.
9. Rakia is an alcoholic drink with made from fermented pears, grapes, or apricots. It is Bulgaria's national drink and is usually consumed together with shopska.
10. Every first of March, Bulgarians celebrate a unique holiday known as Baba Marta (Grandmother March). Locals exchange martenitsas or tassels of white and red yarn.
11. The town of Kazanlak holds a Rose Festival yearly, wherein a girl is elected as “Rose Queen”. Festivities include street processions, folklore concerts, art shows, wine tasting, exhibitions, and more.
12. The two major mountain ranges in Bulgaria are the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope Mountains.
13. The medieval town of Bansko is a famous spot for skiing.
14. Bulgaria's Rila Monastery houses a wooden cross with 140 microscopic scenes from the Bible. The biggest of the 1,500 figures featured is smaller than a grain of rice. It's just one of many interesting places in Bulgaria.
15. Bulgaria ranks as the third most biodiverse Eastern European country. It has over 3,500 vascular plant species and almost 415 bird species.
16. In the 1980s, Bulgaria was the second largest wine producer in the world.
17. The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, has a motto which goes as “Raste no ne stare”. In English, it means “grows but does not age”.
18. The country's official language is Bulgarian. It is written using the Cyrillic alphabet.
19. Fire dancing (Nestinarstvo) is one of the oldest Bulgarian customs. Today, it is still performed in several villages in the Strandzha Mountains.
20. Bulgarian primary and secondary education is state-supported. The country has a literacy rate of 98 percent.
21. Bulgaria has no state religion, but the majority of Bulgarian citizens identify as Eastern Orthodox Christians.
22. The oldest processed gold in the world is found in Varna in Bulgaria. The golden artifacts were believed to be 7,000 years old.
23. On Jordan's Day in Bulgaria, there's one custom that involves a priest throwing a cross into the river. The man who can retrieve the cross is said to be rewarded with good health and happiness.
24. The unique consistency of Bulgarian yogurt is because of the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus which cannot be found anywhere else.
25. The St. George Rotunda Church is the oldest building in Bulgaria's capital.
26. Bulgaria has a parliamentary system of government.
27. The Stone Wedding is an awe-inspiring natural rock formation in southern Bulgaria. It has interesting colors of pink, brown, and red. The two largest rocks are the bride and the groom, while the many others are the wedding guests.
28. Bulgaria is the only European country that hasn't changed its name since the year it was established.
29. The Bulgarian folk song “Izlel e Delyu Haydutin” by Valya Balkanska was sent in space on board Voyager I. It is part of the Golden Record, a collection of human artifacts intended as a message for extraterrestrial life.
30. No army in the world has ever captured a Bulgarian flag in battle.
31. John Vincent Atanasoff, the inventor of the first digital computer, is of Bulgarian descent. He is the son of Bulgarian immigrant Ivan Atanasov.
32. About 15,000 Thracian tombs were discovered in Bulgaria. A tenth of this number is in the Valley of the Thracian Kings.
33. Bulgarian former athlete Stefka Kostadinova holds the world record of 2.09 meters at the 1987 World Championships. No one has matched or beaten her record until today. She's one of the most famous people from Bulgaria.
34. Tribal leader Loboda in HBO's Game of Thrones is played by Bulgarian actor Zahary Bacharov.
35. Peter Petroff, the inventor of the first digital wristwatch, is of Bulgarian descent.
36. In 1976, the ancient Bulgarian calendar was hailed by UNESCO as the most accurate of its kind in the world.
37. In 2010, a city councilor in Bulgaria was fired from work because of Farmville. Dimitar Kerin of Plovdiv was dismissed so he can “have more time to tend his virtual farm”.
38. Mount Musala, standing at 2,925 m, is the highest point in Bulgaria.
39. The lowest point in Bulgaria is in the Black Sea.
40. Bulgaria was once regarded as Europe's Silicon Valley. It ranked 8th in terms of a number of Information Technology experts in 2002.
41. Bulgaria was one of the two countries that protected their Jewish inhabitants from being sent to the Nazi concentration camps.
42. Bulgaria's population is shrinking due to low birth rates and outward migration. It is estimated that the current population will decline by almost one-third by the year 2060.
43. Bulgaria's boundaries are the Black Sea (east) and the Danube (North).
44. Coca-Cola Bulgaria holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest glass bottle mosaic. It was made using 72,933 empty soda bottles that cover a whopping area of 250 square meters.
45. Bulgaria ranks 20th in the worldwide ranking of countries with fastest internet speeds.
46. Forests in Bulgaria constitute one-third of the country's territory.
47. The current version of the Bulgarian flag (horizontal tricolor of white, red, and green) was adopted in 1991.
48. Sofia is the only major European city located a mere 15 minutes away from a mountain. The Vitosha Mountain offers a beautiful silhouette that can be viewed anywhere in the city.
49. Dan Kolov is the first World wrestling champion with an astonishing 1,500 wins and only 2 lost matches. He remained a proud Bulgarian until his death. He was even quoted saying, “I feel strong because I am Bulgarian.”
50. The village of Kovachevitsa reflects Bulgarian architectural genius. It has a Revival period charm with cobblestone streets and houses made of wood and stone.
51. The Kadin Bridge in Nevestino is a 100-meter long stone bridge. It has a secret: an engraved plate on its east railing states that it was constructed in 1470.
52. Bulgarians have what is called as ‘Gypsy summer' or when summer extends to September. It is the warm beginning of autumn.
53. M-Tel IMAX, the largest cinema screen in the Balkans, can be found in Sofia. The IMAX screen is 4.5 thousand times larger than a normal TV screen!
54. One of Bulgaria's wonders are the Belogradchik Rocks. The bizarre rock formations each have a name: The Schoolgirl, The Camel, Adam and Eve, The Madonna, The Mushrooms, The Horseman, The Cuckoo, The Red Wall, The Bear, and so on. Each rock formation has its own story.
55. Name Day is a celebration in Bulgaria by those who have the name of a Saint. The person with the Saint's name invites guests at home or at a restaurant. Name days are widely celebrated by locals, even more than their own birthdays.
56. Bulgarian cuisine is a lot like Greek and Turkish cuisine. Some shared elements are cucumber, tomato, and filo pastries.
57. Bulgaria is still not on the Euro. It has its own currency – the Bulgarian Lev.
58. The longest Bulgarian word is composed of 39 letters. It means “do not perform actions against the constitution”.
59. Kozunak is a traditional braided sweet bread. It is a favorite among Bulgarians, especially during Easter.
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