Laser F/X On-line Newsletter - Virtual Visits
A Virtual Visit to Spectronika Ltd.
Bulgaria is located in Eastern Europe and borders on Greece and Turkey to the south, Macedonia and Serbia [the former Yugoslavia] to the west, Romania to the North and the Black sea to the east. Bulgarians are a friendly and cheerful people who have developed a great sense of humour during the days of communism as an antidote to the repressive regime. Drawing on over 13 centuries of history, Bulgarians have a rich and colourful culture and a fantastic cuisine.
The history of Bulgaria from antiquity until recently
has been influenced by it's geographical location on the trade routes
between Europe and Asia. Waves of settlers have swept from both continents
into the country at various times in the past. This has often turned the
Balkan mountains into an arena of fierce clashes - most recently in the
former Yugoslavia. Prior to the settlement of the Bulgarians about fifteen
hundred years ago, the Balkans have been some of the most occupied lands in
eastern Europe. This has led to a variety of cultural influences on the
country, it's citizens, culture and cuisine.
We went to visit Bozhentsi, an idyllic village
nestling in the folds of the Balkan mountains, 16 km from the town of
Gabrovo. The centuries old village is now an artists and musicians colony
with well preserved example of traditional Bulgarian village architecture
and a number of fine restaurants. Until the 19th century, Bozhentsi was a
local business and education centre. Many of the inhabitants were merchants
and took trips by horse as far as Moscow, Vienna, Alexandria and Baghdad to
We wandered about looking at the well preserved buildings and making our way slowly up one of the hills until we came to a small restaurant heated by a traditional wood stove. Here, with only 6 tables in the entire establishment, we dined on Banitza, Bulgarian Bean shop, Shopska salad and a very tasty main course of rabbit casserole - all served by the friendly owner and his charming daughter. We enjoyed the attentive old world service with the owner/cook sitting at the table next to us discussing the recipes and ingredients first before we could order, and then hastening off to his wood fired stove in the kitchen to custom make our dinner.
Etura Architectural and Ethnographic Complex
Eight km from Gabrovo, lies the Etura Architectural and Ethnographic Complex. Here master craftsmen fashion beautiful icons, tablecloths, rugs, gold, silver, copper, leather and wooden articles using centuries old hand crafting techniques. Much of the equipment, such as the lathe used for turning wooden bowls and the braid weaving machines, are powered by water. The sent of bread baking in stone ovens mixes with the smell of wood smoke and drifts down the streets between the beautifully preserved and restored old buildings. A small coffee shop served us streaming sweet Turkish coffee in a copper pot with white jam and fresh sweet bread rolls on the side.
The city of Veliko Turnovo is situated on 4 hills - Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, Momina Krepost and Sveta Gora with the Yantra river meandering through the gorges below. The ridges and cliffs of the hills provided ideal natural fortifications in ancient times, thus the royal palace was built atop one of the hills. Tsarevets was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom in the 12th century. Ancient travellers described the city of Turnovo as "second only to Constantinople" in its beauty and might. Seven centuries ago, as a capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, the town of Tsarevets had had a major role in the political and the spiritual life of Bulgaria. Now the town of Veliko Turnovo is an administrative, economical and cultural centre. Tourists flock to visit the partially restored royal palace with it's Patriarch Church on the summit of the walled hill.
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