Downtown the city of Varna is located in the southern part of the city. The historical center is situated to the south of Hristo Botev Boulevard and its extension Maria Louisa Boulevard. Many main roads, streets for pedestrians only and boulevards are crossing it. Knyaz Boris the First Boulevard is the most popular car-free street. This is where some of the most expensive boutiques in the city are located. Real estate brokers state that this is the second most expensive street in Bulgaria after the Vitosha Boulevard in Sofia.
According to the historians the "Greek Neighbourhood" is the oldest part of the city. It is located right above the Sea Garden, near the sea coast. You will be charmed by the quiet green streets and the many restaurants where different kinds of cuisine are offered.
The Sea Garden is accesible from Slivnitza, Knyaz Boris the First, Tzar Osvoboditel and Primorski boulevards. On the seaside alley, right beneath the Sea Garden, just minutes away from the administrative center you may choose some of the many beaches of Varna, as well as some of the many restaurants and food bars with romantic athmosphere and a sea view, where a great variety of fish and other seafood dishes.
Most of the government and municipality institutions are located downtown the city of Varna, as well as both the largest cultural centers in Eastern Bulgaria - The Festival and Congress Center and the Palace of Culture and Sports. Three out of five universities and many schools, medical centers, museums, galleries, culture and information centers are situated in the area, too.
Both the residents and the guests of the city are attracted by the city gardens with their quiet alleys and whispering fountains, small cafes and reataurants.
Stoyan Bachvarov Drama Theatre is located in the very heart of the city. It was built about a century ago following the architectural pattern of the buildings in Vienna, Austria. Currently it is the home of the Drama Theater, the Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra. Its foundation leads back to the time of the Crimean War when French military actors first performed there in 1856. This is where the first Bulgarian dramaturgy was created and performed, as well. Not far from here is the Puppet Theatre, where the Festival of Puppet Art "The Golden Dolphin" is held every year.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is considered to be the badge of the Sea Capital of Bulgaria. It rises in the very center of the city - right across the alley of the Drama Theatre. From the square infront of it there are buses leaving in different directions, covering all the main arteries of the city and the vicinities, including the airport. The Cathedral was built in 1886 by Revival craftsmen following the architectural plan of the churches in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was inaugurated much later - in 1910 due to the prolonged construction and decoration. The wood-carvings of the alter and the Bishop's Throne are created by the craftsmen from Debar, Macedonia. The main murals date back to the year of 1950.
The Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Maker is located near the Sea Garden and dates back to the year of1886. It benefits from its unique murals and old icons, painted by craftsmen, representatives of different iconographic schools in Bulgaria.
The Roman Thermae could be found at the ideal center of the city. Built in the 2-nd century AD under the rule of Emperor Antonius Pius, were later deserted in the 5-th century when the Barbarian invasion took place. After a long period of research and restoration the site is currently preserved and accesible for sightseeing. In the 14-th century there were many pottery workshops there, later on a neighbourhood was built around them.
The Archeological Museum is housed in the building of an old school from the period of the Revival. The visitors could see a scale model of palaeolithic lake-dwellings, the hall of ancient art and lifestyle, the hall of the antiquity art - one of the largest and most impressive collections in the country, objects and church plates of the early christianity, objects of cult of the Protobulgarian people, the exhibition hall dedicated to the 13-th and 14-th centuries representing the development of crafts, the hall of the Bulgarian applied arts and a lapidarium where sarcophagi, tombstones, steli and columns are at display. The Museum is in a possession of rare artefacts deriving from Egypt, Greece, Babylon and the entire Mediterranean brought to Odesos by merchants in ancient times. There is also an unique collection of ancient Thracian artefacts, the world famous Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis Golden Treasure - the oldest processed gold ever found. It dates back to the year of 6000 BC!
The building the Museum of the National Revival is housed in is a monument of material culture and dates back to the year of 1861. The museum exposition was open by patriotic citizens and scientiests in 1959 and has been repeatedly enriched and expanded. The original arangement of the Church of St. Archangel Micheal is preserved on the ground floor. There is a large display set where the struggle for national education and independence, and the epic battles during the Russo-Turkish War are depicted.
The Naval Museum is located in the Sea Garden and has a big collection of materials from the foundation of the Bulgarian Navy in 1878 till nowadays. The Museum was founded in 1923 by the famous Czech scholar Karel Skorpil. There are exhibits in the yard of the Museum, as well - cannons, old anchors, sea vessels etc.
The Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1960 and displays samples of the Bulgarian flora and fauna, geological and spelaeological models show the Earth structure formation stages, there is a small board where the basic types of stones and minerals are showed. The exhibits are displayed into three halls - Geology, Flora and Fauna.
At The Museum of Varna's History the visitors could get acquainted with the one of its kind exposition, revealing the atmosphere of “old” Varna. In the halls there are restored original objects, craftsmen workshops, a hotel room, a pastry shop, an inn, a photography atelier, a legal office, a hatter’s shop, a book shop, a toy shop, a radio shop, a part of the beach with a dressing-box, a living room made of reed and a courtyard of an old Varna house.
The Art Gallery was founded in 1950. On display there are paintings of famous Bulgarian and foreign artists donated to the Gallery by private persons. The museum-house "Georgi Veltchev" is a branch to the Art Gallery. Many works of the famous Varna artist are exhibited. An exposition dedicated to the icon painting during the Revival period is arranged at the church of St. Athanasii. The church was built near the Roman Thermae in the thirteenth century AD. The frescoes, the icons, the exquisitly carved altar and and Bishop's throne inside the church are of great interest. There is also a collection of prints and lithographies, liturgical books and canonics dating back to the Bulgarian Revival period.
The Sea Garden is another significant landmark of Varna. It was created at the end of the 19-th century. In 1908 was accepted the idea of installing busts Bulgarian National Revival heros on some of the alleys. There is a an amphitheatre, an astronomical complex - the first one to be built in Bulgaria - comprising an observatory, a planetarium and a tower, many playgrounds and a small row-boat canal for children, a water wheel reservoir and a zoo. The Central Sea Baths and the beach lie right underneath the Sea Garden. The Sea Baths were built in the beginning of the century and include a polyclinic, hydrotherapy and mud-cure complex, two piers, few restaurants and discoteques.
The Aquarium was established in 1932 - the first and only marine biological station in Bulgaria. In 1954 was founded the Institute for Research on the Problems of the Sea, the Fish and Fishing Industry. Hundreds of different kinds of sea fish, mollusks, sea-anemones, crabs, periwinkles and freshmater inhabitants, as well. One could also get acquainted with the natural riches derived from the Black Sea - from sea-salt to oil.
The Dolphinarium is one of the favourite attractions for bothe the children of Varna and the guests of the city. There are performances every day to demonstrate the skills of the inteligent sea mammals. It is also allowed to take pictures with and feed the dolphins. The attractions are being updated every year and the participation of clowns, mimes and professional actors only adds to the quality of the show.
The Summer Theatre is the site of many activities, most significant of which are the Varna Days of Music, the world famous International Ballet Competition and the International Music Festival Varna Summer.
The Festival and Congress Center is located in immediate proximity to the entrance of the Sea Grarden. It is a modern building made of aluminium, stone and glass. It houses a few stages and conference halls, a big bazaar, a restaurant and a pastry shop. Many art exhibitions and festivals are held here as well as opera, ballet and theatre performances.
Bus-lines: 3, 7, 8, 9, 14, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 31А, 51, 109, 148, 409
Text and pictures: Mirela - Varna office