10 quirky facts about Bulgaria

Take the beautiful mountains, wild beaches, deep forests, breathtaking villages and wholesome dishes, and you will have just a fraction of what makes Bulgaria stand out from the rest of the world.  Bulgaria is a country with a rich history and numerous tourist attractions, which make it the perfect travel destination. If you have ever wondered where to go during your holiday, here are 10 quirky facts that will make you pack your suitcase and head to Bulgaria.

The Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral, Varna, Bulgaria

Credit: News Field

Bansko, Bulgaria

Credit: News Field

The inventor of the computer has Bulgarian origins

Hardly anyone can imagine his life without a computer nowadays. The creator of the most revolutionary invention actually has Bulgarian origins. John Vincent Atanasoff created the first prototype of the machine in 1930 at Iova State College. John was one of the ten children Ivan (John) Atanasoff (1876-1956), a Bulgarian electrical engineer, and Iva Lucena Purdy (1881-1983), a mathematics schoolteacher with French and Irish descents, had. What is even more interesting is that Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg also has Bulgarian origins. He is named after his Bulgarian grandfather – Marko, who emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940.

The second oldest church in the Balkans is in Bulgaria

There are a lot of fascinating churches and cathedrals in Bulgaria. However, Saint Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia is one of a kind. It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals around the world and the second largest on the Balkan Peninsula. The bells of the cathedral could be heard at a radius of 15 kilometres.  The total weight of its 12 bells is 23 tones.

Saint Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, Bulgaria

Credit: News Field

Bulgarians celebrate on 1st March

In Bulgaria people celebrate on the first day of March. The day is called ‘Baba Marta’ (translated Grandma March) and it marks the coming of spring. In Bulgarian mythology, Baba Marta is a figure, presented as the sister of January and February. On 1st March people wear bracelets, called ‘martenitsa’, made of white and red yarns. The martenitsa is a symbol of health, wealth and fertility. People wear their bracelets until they see a blossoming tree or a swallow.

Credit: News Field

14th February – St. Valentine’s Day but not in Bulgaria

All around the world couples celebrate their love and appreciation towards each other on 14th February.  This day is all about love, chocolates and presents. However, in Bulgaria 14th February is also Trifon Zarezan (Trifon the Puner), a holiday dedicated to wine and vines. Saint Trifon was the guardian of winemakers and vineyards. He died as a martyr during the Roman prosecutions over Christians.

Bulgarian wine

Credit: News Field

‘Yes’ means ‘No’, ‘No’ means ‘Yes’

If you ever go to Bulgaria and see a person shaking head from side to side and then you hear ‘Yes’, do not be surprised. Although this is a gesture, meaning ‘No’ in a lot of countries, in Bulgaria it means ‘Yes’.  In conclusion, you should be extremely careful while talking to Bulgarian people. If you ask them a question, don’t regard the moving of their head from side to side as a ‘No’ This is actually a ‘Yes’. You might want to play Justin Bieber’s hit ‘What do you mean’ if you visit Bulgaria:

‘What do you mean?

When you nod your head yes

But you wanna say no

What do you mean?’

Bulgaria is the place where yoghurt comes from

Dr Stamen Grigorov was the Bulgarian scientists who first identified in 1905 the essential bacterium that caused milk to ferment and turn into yoghurt.  The microorganism became known as lactobacillus bulgaricus. Yoghurt is one of the symbols of Bulgaria. It is an essential ingredient in many traditional Bulgarian dishes like tarator, a soup made of yoghurt, water and cucumbers. Yoghurt can be the perfect dessert, especially when served with fruit jam.

Bulgarian yoghurt

Credit: News Field

The Bulgarian actor who starred in Game of Thrones

Zahary Bacharov, 38,  was the Bulgarian actor who starred in the fifth season of Game of Thrones, the most watched TV show of all times. He was portrayed as the 40-year-old leader of a merciless cannibal tribe Loboda. Zahary was one of the main actors who played in the most successful Bulgarian series, Undercover. The show was screened in more than nine European countries, including China, Turkey and Latin America.

Zahary Bacharov

Credit: Avtora

A Bulgarian song is in space

The Bulgarian folk song “Izlel e Delyo haidutin” (in English: “Delio rebel has come out”), performed by the singer Valya Balkanska (77), was included in the Voyager Golden Record. It is part of the music compilation launched in Space as a music message from the Earth to extra-terrestrials that might discover it. Valya Balkanska’s singing is accompanied by the Bulgarian instrument gayda (the equivalent of a bagpipe) which makes her performance even more powerful.

‘Every time I listen to this song, I get goosebumps all over my body. It is the work that best represent the Bulgarian national folklore’, said Veronica, a Sofia native.

Valya Balkanska

Credit: BGNES

The world record holder in women’s high jump is Bulgarian

Stefka Kostadinova, 54, is the Bulgarian athlete, who contested high jumps and set a world record  of 2.09 m (6 ft 10.28 in) at the  World Championships in Athletics in Rome, Italy, on 30th  August 1987. It has been 32 years since her record remains unbeatable. Stefka Kostadinova  is currently chairman of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee.

The Bulgarian prophet that predicted the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the attack on the Twin Towers

Vangelia Pandeva Dimitrova (1911-1996), better known as Baba Vanga, was the Bulgarian medium who predicted several events that changed dramatically the course of history, including the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1989 she was believed to have accurately predicted the Terror Attacks of 9/11.  She had also foretold Brexit,  and the rise of ISIS.

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