- Price from:
- 1250 GBP /person
- +44 1865 315 441
- +44 1865 315 441
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- Credit Card
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Last updated: 07/10/2009
Tour Date: 23rd - 31st May 2010 /// This tour offers visitors rich insights into Bulgaria's fascinating history and culture.
Flight to Sofia. We transfer to the pretty conservation village of Koprivshtitsa, situated among the wooded hills of the Sredna Gora to the east of Sofia. Our accommodation is in the comfortable 3* family hotel, where we have our evening meal.
In the morning we walk through the old-style streets of Koprivshtitsa and have the chance to visit one or two of the numerous fine 19th C. wooden 'museum' houses, which have been beautifully maintained. After lunch, we drive to the newly excavated Thracian sanctuary at Starosel and then on to Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second city, where we have two nights' accommodation in the pedestrianized city centre. Dinner will be in one of the fine restaurants in the old town.
We have a leisurely walking tour up through the picturesque cobbled streets of the old town in Plovdiv. From time to time we can see the remains of the Byzantine city walls and we pass several well-preserved timbered town houses dating from the end of the Ottoman period, the 19th C., when Bulgaria enjoyed its 'National Revival'. We visit the restored Roman theatre, impressively situated overlooking the main city centre, and one of the elegant 'museum' houses, now the Ethnographic Museum, with a collection of traditional, local items. After lunch in the old town, we drive a short distance into the Rhodope Mountains to the 11th C. Bachkovo Monastery, an attractive ensemble of buildings, where the refectory and the ossuary will be specially opened for us to see the wonderful mediaeval frescoes. In the evening we drive out to a local winery, where we enjoy a wine tasting and take our evening meal, accompanied by a folklore display.
We drive to Kazanluk, to see the Thracian tomb with its fine Hellenistic wall paintings. Then, after lunch, we continue to the Shipka Memorial Church, built in colourful Russian style in memory of those who died in a crucial battle in Bulgaria's war of independence in 1877 on the dramatic summit of the Balkan range, above. After crossing the Shipka Pass, we visit the 'model' village of Etura in a pretty valley on the far side. Here, in a street of old-style shops, craft workers use traditional skills to produce a fascinating variety of artefacts. After lunch we continue to Veliko Turnovo, the 13/14th C. capital of Bulgaria, where we have two nights' accommodation. We shall have time for a walk through the old streets after our arrival, before dinner in our hotel.
In the morning we walk up to the Tsarevets, the old royal citadel, spectacularly situated with impressive fortifications overlooking the winding gorge of the River Yantra on three sides, and to the restored patriarchate at the summit. We then visit Arbanassi village, where the highlights will be the Church of the Nativity, with its complete set of 17th C. frescoes, perhaps the finest set in any church in Bulgaria, and a 'museum' house, formerly the home of one of the village's wealthy merchants. After lunch in the village, we return to Veliko Turnovo, to visit the restored mediaeval church of St Peter and St Paul, and to enjoy some free time exploring the old streets of the city, before dinner in an attractive local restaurant.
We drive west to Troyan Monastery. One of the country's most renowned, it has fine timbered courtyards and a beautiful frescoed church. We continue after lunch in the nearby village to Sofia, where our accommodation for three nights in a 4 star boutique hotel nicely situated opposite a garden in the centre of the city, and our dinner will be in a nearby restaurant.
A whole day's excursion to Rila, Bulgaria's premier monastery, which is beautifully situated in a forested mountain valley to the south of Sofia. Founded in the 10th C. it has a wonderful church and an imposing, arched courtyard, with fine wooden galleries and balconies. After lunch next to the monastery, we return to Sofia. Dinner will be in a local restaurant, near our hotel.
Morning tour of Sofia. The centre of the city has some elegant buildings and is compact enough to be seen mostly on foot. The tour will include visits to the impressive Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral, built to commemorate the Russian soldiers who fought and died in the war of independence in 1877/78, and the churches of St Sophia and St George, both dating from the late Roman/early Byzantine period. We also pass the Bulgarian Parliament and the former Royal Palace, now the National Art Gallery and Ethnographic Museum. After lunch we visit the National Historical Museum; recently re-located to the former President's palatial residence on the slopes of Mt Vitosha to the south of the city, it contains the celebrated Thracian treasures, beautiful silver and gold vessels from prehistoric Bulgaria, contemporary with Classical Greece. Dinner this evening will be in a local restaurant, where we will be treated to a lively display of folk dancing.
In the morning we visit the tiny, mediaeval church at Boyana, on the southern outskirts of Sofia. Specially opened for us, it has a remarkable series of frescoes, dating from 1259, one of the finest surviving achievements of Bulgarian painting. After this we have time for coffee and some final moments of free time in the centre of the city, before we are taken to the airport for our return flight to London.
- Extras -
- Tour Leader: John Osborne
John taught Classics at Marlborough College for over thirty years and also worked for the British Council in Iran and Turkey. He has developed a special enthusiasm for, and knowledge of Bulgaria, which he has visited regularly in recent years. He has taught himself Bulgarian and has led numerous special interest tours to the country.
The basic price of the tour includes return flights, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, transport everywhere in Bulgaria by luxury coach, all entrance fees to museums and sites, services of a British tour leader and a local English-speaking escort, the wine-tasting and the folk evening, and entrance fees, travel insurance.
The following are not included: Uk airport transfer, tips and personal expences.
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Email the tour operator - Classical Bulgaria
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