I’m talking about our Northeast, the Bulgarian one, I haven’t gone further yet. And the surprise was the gift for my birthday in the form of a short but meaningful trip around Shumen area. I hadn’t toured that place in a long time, no matter that my hometown is not far from there. And maybe I hadn’t been there in spring before, because now everything seemed like an unseen miracle. Some green forests, some colorful gardens, one intoxicating air! Could it be that everything seems brighter and more exciting to us now due to the Covid situation?! Nah, I don’t believe it; Bulgaria is just miraculous in itself. Here, for example, is the above view of Shumen town and the Monument of Founders of the Bulgarian State from the Shumen Fortress. So, let’s talk about what to see in Northeast Bulgaria.
Since we mentioned the Monument of Founders of the Bulgarian state, I’ll start with it. Everyone close to my age (I will not mention it, those who know just know it), was certainly led here as a student on the occasion of the 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian State. However, I mostly remembered that a terrible wind was blowing on the top and that the stone figures looked too cubical to me. Now, the wind on the Shumen plateau is still the same wind, but it depends on the day. On a warm June day, for example, it’s all right. And that the figures are cubical, there is no doubt, but now I somehow managed to appreciate the author’s idea. In addition, there are beautiful meadows around the monument and the views of the plain below are not to be overlooked. I was impressed by how many people climbed the 1,300 steps from the city center to the top, and some even jogged and walked along the road, which is a lot longer.
On the opposite “horn” of the plateau, opposite the Monument, is the Shumen Fortress. She had been there since Roman times, then in the Middle Ages, a long and dignified life in general, and I didn’t even know about her. Apparently, the organizers of the jubilee school trips did not consider it as important as the Monument. True, the same Shumen-plateau wind is blowing on this side as well. But the place is tidy, nice, people have painted boards for us with what the fortress looked like when it was inhabited, and there is even a tiny museum where you can see clay baby rattles:
In this line of thought – about museums and what to see in Northeast Bulgaria – you can give a chance to the Regional History Museum in Shumen. It seemed to me very much like the Blagoevgrad one, I am talking about the building, and like the Blagoevgrad one, it is struggling to get out of the grip of its socialist past, but there is a lot to see inside. The Treasury was not allowed to be photographed, and you have to go and see it for yourselves, because there are amazing things inside. Apart from that, I personally liked this colorful bowl from the Preslav school of art:
Our other stops were the two old Bulgarian capitals. We started with Pliska in chronological order. I had visited her sooner, so I remembered her better. I was again impressed by the scale and the idea of the founders of the Bulgarian state to position their capital in the middle of the fields. We’ve already talked about the northeast wind, and probably their idea was to see in all directions, but I still see it as an unusual decision not to find at least one little hill for protection. And there is nothing like a river to mention; it relied on wells and reservoirs. Only one thing was new to me, and I couldn’t find information what it was:
I would like to note the care and obvious love with which the staff took care of the place and especially of the small museum complex. Alleys, benches (which, because of the Covid were not allowed to sit on, but still nice), gazebos, trees with patched shade, bushes between the old pots on display in the garden, and piles of flowers. Plus working vending machines for coffee, water, juice and various other snacks. The coffee was even delicious! On a quiet Saturday morning, it was a real bliss to sit in the shade and have a coffee in this setting. Here’s what I’m talking about:
The museum contained the usual museum things – some old stones, some pottery, some metal tools, etc. Before, I hadn’t paid attention to the large sacrificial stones with different types of gutters carved on top, I guess with an obvious purpose. I think that the costumes of various officials and warriors from the time of the First Bulgarian State were new, but I am not sure. From the old capital itself, I choose to show you the royal baths in the Citadel (the inner city), which, like everything else, are preserved only as foundations, but with a little imagination we can see what it was like when they functioned.
Our tour today ends at the Great Basilica of Pliska, which can be reached by the so-called Ceremonial Road from the capital. The distance is not too great, they give it a kilometer and a half or so, but if it had to be passed ceremoniously in the heat or winter with the wonderful northeast wind, it must have required stability of faith. The famous spring with the disputed water is sealed now, but the Basilica is still white, beautiful and impressive, just like I remembered it. It is a pity that almost nothing can be seen from the monastery complex which once existied by, but again we can count on our imagination. We will continue to the other old Bulgarian capital in my next publication.