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Location: The city of Bourgas has a population of almost 200,000 people according to recent data, and is the second largest city at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It is also the fourth largest city in the country, following Sofia, Plovdiv and connecting Varna. It is situated in the farthest western part of the Bourgas Bay and 390km east of Sofia. Due to the low level of the coast in the area, three lagoon-lakes (the Atanassovo, Bourgas, and Mandren lakes) lie in the area surrounding the city.
History: Bourgas is a successor of the small Roman town of Deultum (later named Develt), founded by Emperor Vespasian as a military colony for veterans. Besides Deultum, the present-day city expands over the area of three other ancient settlements, i.e. Kastiacion, Skafida and Rossokastron. In the Middle Ages a small fortress called Pirgos was erected in the place and was most probably used as a watchtower. It was only in 17tn century that a town named Ahelo-Bourgas grew in the present-day area of the city. This, renamed into Bourgas, had only about 3,000 inhabitants at the time of the Liberation. Soon it became the centre of the Southern Black Sea coast, and a city of well developed industry and trade. A number of oil and chemical works producing more than 30 products were gradually built. Salt and iron are also mined here and traded far beyond the borders of the country. In 1903 the railway station in Bourgas started functioning as well, giving an additional boost to the city's expansion.
Places of Interest:
In the city: The District Museum of History, founded in 1925, is one of the most impressive tourist sights in the city. Today it houses an archaeological hall with a rich collection of items dating back to the old colonies along the Black Sea coast. The Ethnographic Museum is also of particular appeal to foreigners for its exhibitions of masks of koukeri, traditional costumes, ritual accessories, fabrics and embroidery. The museum is hosted in a house built in 1873 and later declared a cultural monument. The Museum of Nature and Science is another place of interest to visitors of the city. It contains more than 1,200 exhibits of insects and reptiles and more than 140 species of fish, plants growing in the district of Strandzha, protected and endemic species. Another such place is the Art Gallery, established in 1945 with halls exhibiting foreign and of Bulgarian artists' works, and icons painted by renowned Renaissance artists. Among the church buildings, one may wish to visit the St. St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, which raises near the marketplace. The cathedral is interesting for its marvelous frescos and wooden altar. Another impressive sight of Bourgas is the Armenian Church located close to Bulgaria Hotel. It was built in 1855 by the local Armenian minority supported by Bulgarians. Finally, a philharmonic hall, an opera house, a drama theatre and a puppet theater are hosted in beautiful buildings and function during the entire season.
Away from the busy centre of the city, the shady Sea Garden is a lovely place to stroll in hot summer days. The park is situated on a hill next to the coast, and is rich in flowers, trees and sculptures. Within the park there is a casino, a small zoo and an open-air theatre, which houses the annual International Folklore Festival, and where participants in the Golden Orpheus Pop-Festival perform. A beautiful forked staircase in verdure leads from the park down to the central beach of the city. The sand is a mixture of various alloys of magnetite, which is the reason for its dark colour. The city also has a northern beach, located close to the Izgrev Quarter, and adjacent to the city's salt-mines.
Outside the city: The lake of Pomorie is located 20 km north of Bourgas. The lake is surrounded by salt-mines and balneo-resorts. The Atanassovo Lake is to the north, too, between the airport and the city. It is 10 km long and once was a nestling site of many marsh and sea birds migrating from Gibraltar and the Bosphorus. Part of the lake is a natural reserve. There are sites for fishing, swimming and having a rest. The Bourgas Lake is a nestling site of pelicans, ibis, and herons. It offers many opportunities for having a rest as well. The Mandren Lake is 10 km south of the city and is also an important ornithological reserve with a large bird population in the summer. It is also appropriate for rowing tours and recreation.
The St. Anastassia Island is 3 nautical miles east of the city. The island has a well-preserved old church and was used for the exile of left-wing revolutionaries in 1923-1925, and anti-Fascists in 1943-1944. That is why the island was named Bolshevik for some years during communist times. The salt-mines of Bourgas may be also a sight of interest. They border the Bourgas Lake, and some of them even stretch to the Atanassovo Lake. Mineral water baths can be found 13km north-west of the city on the way to Aitos. The baths are built over the remains of an old Roman town called Aetos. The present-day baths were built in the 16th century during Ottoman rule and are still functioning. There is curing mud, a balneo-spa, a polyclinic, and a holiday house.
The village of Kraimorie (once named Kafka) is to the south of Bourgas on the way to the old fortress of Pirgos. There is a nice beach near the village, as well as rest homes and private lodgings for holiday-makers. The Otmanli Park is 15 km away from Bourgas near the Choukalya caape. It comprises over 6,000 decares of thick forest and holds in a hunting area and bungalows for recreation.
Two famous Bulgarian resorts rich in history and architectural monuments are located close to Bourgas - Nessebar to the north and Sozopol to the south.
Accommodation: The city has many hotels of different categories, private lodgings, and also two big camping sites in its vicinity. The most famous hotels are Park Hotel, situated on the banks of the Atanassovo lake, Primorets Hotel, Bulgaria Hotel and Cosmos Hotel. While all these offer top-quality service at high prices, cheaper accommodation can be found in small private hotels in the suburbs. One can also use the services of real estate agencies and rent a flat or room in the city at moderate prices.
Catering: The city is full of restaurants, pubs, beer-houses, taverns, and refreshment stalls and groceries. The most famous restaurants are National, Staryat Pristan, Starata Gemiya, Bourgaska Sreshta, as well as hotels' restaurants. Most of the high-class restaurants have live music, while some offer show programmes, too. Food in the city is generally cheap, especially if one goes shopping in the suburbs or at marketplaces.
Transport: The Bourgas Airport operates regular flights to Sofia every day. During the summer season, there are up to 7 flights daily in both directions. Flying time to the capital city is about 40min. The airport is an international one and sees increased traffic, including charter flights, during the summer. The railway station of Bourgas has connections to all parts of the country. The express train to Sofia travels less than 6.30 hours. The city's central bus station is located next to the railway station. Buses to the country's largest cities, including Sofia start from there. There are also a lot of private carriers that offer transport to towns and resorts to the north and south of Bourgas along the coast. There is regular city transport - buses, trolley-buses and route taxis.