Lately, we have been besieged by the idea that the real traveler is only the one who climbs moutains and dances with wolves or, if s/he is among people, s/he spends his or her time harassing them to confess of how they live. I claim that no traveler is the one who has not entered the museum to first get acquainted with the history and culture of these people before starting to arrange them in his/her photos. In this line of thought, I invite you to join me for a walk around the Bulgarian museums, because I’m sure there is a lot to discover. Some time ago I wrote about the museum in Blagoevgrad, quite naturally, this is my place, but today I invite you to the Pernik Museum.

The entrance to the Mining Museum in Pernik

This is the entrance to the Mining Museum, the only one of its kind in Bulgaria. And this is the right place for it, everyone knows that Pernik is a mining town. The entrance in question is right next to the Regional History Museum, but if they don’t show it to you, you can easily miss it. Not because it is not a serious construction, but because it’s hidden inside the yard and then in the hill. It is guarded by a bronze miner with a lantern, as you can see in the photo. Plus the stone guys I chose to put at the beginning of the article. Who says social realism is dead?

Underground Pernik

Under the ground, there is a world different from the one above. Dark. Cool. Wet. Quiet. It’s hard to imagine what it was like here, when those boys, now of flesh and blood, were scurrying back and forth, rattling with the heavy trolleys, and their voices echoing in the stone arches. The acoustics here are so special that the Pernik Museum sometimes organizes concerts. It has always been difficult for me to imagine what it is like to start each day with the clear awareness that you are taking a risk and relying on a bird in a cage or the flame of a petromax lamp to tell you when the risk becomes real. Well, in the end, you obviously only rely on one thing.

Mining chapel

That is the mining chapel saying “God Help!” In this strange world, you will see more interesting things, such as the various mining lamps, various ways to strengthen arches without joints, a bomb shelter and others; I will not fill the story with spoilers. When you return to the surface, be sure to enter the main building of the museum. Here I must admit that, despite the different exterior, most museums in Bulgaria look quite the same from the inside, because they were planned in more or less the same period, and that was a long time ago. To the extent that they manage to conceal from the visitor many really curious and remarkable exhibits. Let me show you –

Grave stele - Pernik MuseumA drawing of grave stele from the Pernik Museum

Perhaps the experts will say that there is nothing remarkable about this. Well, I’m not an expert and I’m a representative sample of the average visitor, so … It’s a stone stele about 3,300 years old. The stele, for those who don’t know, is a tombstone or memorial plate of sone or wood on which important data or messages about people and events are expected to be written. In this particular case, the important message is obviously that here lies an important warrior. But isn’t the way in which his tiny hands were carved into the stone just touching? I suppose nothing was considered more important than having something to hold your weapon with.

Manya the Tourist as a mummer

A visit to the Regional Pernik Museum will not be complete without taking a mummer’s photo. After all, the city is the national capital of masquerade and mummer’s games, and it is no coincidence that they organize a whole international festival every year to prove it to us. Finally, I recommend that you go up to the Krakra Fortress. The same fortress that was once circulated in the media as a sad example of European projects. I myself went only recently, can’t tell you why I had ignored the old Bulgarian saying that in every situation, the “eye must see and the hand must touch”. Go, see and touch, do not lie on what you have read somewhere.

The fortress of Krakra

The fortress is located in a fantastic place, the view of the Struma river valley and the surrounding hills reminds us again that our ancestors were not fools at all. Inside, there are preserved foundations of buildings and parts of walls; alleys, benches and models of ancient siege weapons have been prepared for the visitor. The people from the Pernik Museum keep the place welcoming and organize various events for the young and old. In short, visit at will, just avoid the heat and rain, but you probably already know that if you’re a fortress fan like me.

Pernik fortress