Варна (Varna). Sometimes also written as 'Warna'. Only a few kilometres away, there was an
ancient Greek town called Odessos, later on a flourishing Roman town called
Marzianopolis. Varna exists since the 6th or 7th century; the present name was used from the beginning.
Varna stretches along Varna bay in the north-east of Bulgaria. West of Varna, a long lake fed by
Провадийска (Provadiiska) river
forms the border of town. Right in the north of Varna starts the Dobruja plateau (see →Dobrich).
Population: almost 320,000 inhabitants - Varna is the third biggest city of Bulgaria after
→Sofia and →Plovdiv.
Water in the west and in the east, mountains in the north and in the south - it's the perfect location for a nice town.
The centre of town is spacious and features some parks, some historic buildings here and there and nice streets.
Varna is 'chic' - here you can find all the expensive shops you will also see in the capital. Furthermore, Varna is an
important industrial town and is home to a large port, but these are things you won't notice in the city centre.
Additionally, Varna is conveniently located, since there are many interesting places around the town (see also
getting there and →surroundings).
Probably the oldest remainings of settlements in Europe were excavated at the northern shore of Lake Varna, only a few kilometres
away from the city centre. Some of the remainings are more than 6,000 years old. In the 7th or 6th century BC,
Greeks from Milet founded a small town and called it
Odessos (not to be confused with →Odessa
in the Ukraine!). Not far from Odessos, ancient Romans founded another town called
Marzianopolis. During the 2th century AD, a large spa with many baths was added. Unfortunately, almost
all of it was destroyed by a desastrous earthquake in the 5th century. Still, some remainings are left. During the
migration of the peoples in the early medieval age, Goths destroyed both towns.
Slavic tribes used the ruins to built a city called Varna during the 6th and 7th century. The town soon developed into an important
trading centre. During the long Ottoman occupation, Varna's importance gradually declined. But after the liberation at the end
of the 19th century, it soon became an important place for trade and industry. Nowadays, Varna is a vibrant city especially during
the summer months. Therefore it is often regarded as Bulgaria's summer capital.
There's even a direct train running from →Prague all the way to
Varna. I guess this train doesn't operate in winter. The train leaves the Czech capital (Prague hl.n.) shortly after midnight
and arrives at around 10 am the next day - all in all around 34 hours. There are good train connections to
→Ruse, →Stara Zagora,
→Plovdiv and →Sofia. However, there's no train to
→Burgas in the south. Well, there's one, but the train doesn't run along the seashore, so
the it takes more than 5 hours to get there (it's 100 km to Burgas). Hence, the bus is much better. Busses are cheap and reliable and
run virtually everywhere. All the seaside resorts such as Golden Sands, Albena, Drushba etc north of
Varna and Sunny Beach in the south are easily accessible by bus and microbus; it doesn't take much longer
than 30 minutes to get there. The fastest way to get to →Romania is
via →Dobrich. Varna has an International Airport with many charter
flights from all over Europe during the summer months.