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Varna

Basic facts

Varna
  • Name: 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.

  • Location: 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.

  • Orientation: 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).

  • History: 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.

  • Getting there: 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.


  • Sights

    The port and the adjacent train station are south of the city centre. From there, simply walk along ул. цар Симеон (Tsar Simeon st.) northwards and you will get to пл. Независимост (pl. Nezavisimost, Independence square) - the central square of Varna. From there, the pedestrian zone Княз Борис (Knyas Boris, Duke Boris St) leads eastwards. When you walk along this street and turn right into ул. Пушкин (Pushkin street), you will get to a large and ugly concrete structure shortly called ФК (FK, festival and congress centre). Behind that, there's the beautiful Приморски парк (Primorski Park, Sea Park) and further to the north the Dolphinarium and Maritime Museum. Between the park and the port you can see the remainings of the Roman Baths. Next to the ruins stands the beautiful църква Анастазиос (Anastasios Church). Worth mentioning as well is the Museum of History and Art, where, among many other things, the worldwide oldest artificial objects made of copper and gold are on display.

    I'm not sure why, but I haven't taken any pictures in Varna. Hence the text-only version.


    Surroundings

    In the vicinity of Varna, many very touristy beach resorts as well as historic places like →Nesebar and Поморие (Pomorye) in the south and Балчик (Balchik) in the north line up along the Black Sea coast. But there are also some less known sights such as Побити камъни (Pobiti Kamani, stone forest).

    The stone forest near Varna
    The stone forest near Varna

    The stone forest can be found 18 km west of Varna. There are up to 5 metres high and almost 3 metres wide, trunk-shaped stones being scattered all over the place. It is not quite clear how these objects were formed and why they are there. However, similar objects can be found in Germany, Australia and South America as well.


    Accommodation

    There's definitely no lack of accommodation in Varna and along the coast. I didn't stay in Varna but moved on to a small town, and so I cannot recommend a special place to stay in Varna.


    WWW

  • www.bulgaria.com/varna English website with some images of Varna.
  • www.varna.bg/eng Official website of Varna in Bulgarian and English. With plenty of information about the city.
  • www.goldensands.bg Some information about the resorts lining up along Golden Sands.

  • Do you have or do you know a good website about Varna? Don't hesitate, let me know! After checking it, I would love to add it to the link list. Please note that commercial websites will be declined. For e-mail link see menu on the left.


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