Jun 04

Bulgarian Horrible Histories: The Skull Goblet

By Darina | Bulgarian Horrible Histories , History

This is the first article from a blog-post series which will help you learn more about Bulgarian history in an entertaining way. By focusing on the bizarre, you will learn more about general Bulgarian history and culture.

Imagine how Eastern Europe looked like in 809. The Byzantine empire was a major power in the continent, spreading over vast territories around the Mediterranean and beyond. The Bulgarians had already managed to conquer and keep some of the Byzantine territory in the Balkan region, unite the local tribes and establish the Bulgarian country a century ago. The Bulgarian ruler at that time, Khan Krum, was slowly adding territory to Bulgaria by helping nearby tribes revolt agains the Byzantine empire and then adding them to his kingdom. He managed to take over the Byzantine fortress Serdika (nowadays Sofia). Nicephorus I Genik, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, however, did not like Khan Krum’s success.

In 811, The Byzantine Emperor gathered an army, crossed the Balkan passes and headed towards the capital Pliska. He ignored Khan Krum’s offer of peace and besieged and pillaged Pliska, killing men, women and children. According to the chronicle of this time, the emperor “ordered to bring their small children, got them tied down on earth and made thresh grain stones to smash them”. He then started returning to his home victorious.

Khan Krum

Khan Krum and his army

The victory was not to last. While Nicephorus pillaged the capital, Krum set traps and spread his army (which included women) around the Balkan mountain passages. At the Varbitsa Pass, the Byzantines fell into the trap, their army was surrounded. According to the historical sources, when the emperor realised his ordeal, he said: “Even if we have had wings we could not have escaped from peril.” He was right. The Bulgarians attacked first and chased their enemies until they had full victory. Only a few Byzantines survived the defeat.

Emperor Nicephorus died on a dunghill on the day of the battle. That night, at the victor’s feast, Khan Krum drank from a goblet made from the skull of the defeated emperor. According to  an old Bulgarian tradition, the Khan made a trophy by cleaning the skull and lining the outer part of it with silver and jewels.  This incident is the best-documented instance of this grotesque tradition.

May 31

Bulgarian Food: Dishes You Must Try

By Darina | Cuisine , Culture , Travel

If you happen to visit Bulgaria and want to dive into the experience, you simply must try some of the country’s most iconic dishes. If you don’t know what those are, let me show you.

Bulgarian cuisine is generally quite similar to other Balkan cuisines. The close proximity of the people in the region and its history made the tradition in food preparation similar. However, each of the Balkan countries has their own specialties, and in that Bulgaria is not lacking.



A classic breakfast combination is banitsa and boza аница и боза) or banitsa and ayran аница и айраян). Banitsa is a traditionally made filo pastry pie. In the most popular version it is filled with white pickled cheese or a combination of cheese, eggs and yogurt. In other variations the banitsa can contain leeks, onions, cabbage, minced meat, pumpkin and sugar or apples with cinnamon. It can be easily be purchased from any street bakery, during the whole day.

The cheesy banitsa fits very well the sweet thick boza drink. Boza is made of rye or wheat and goes into slight fermentation process. If the boza has slight alcoholic taste, it is not fresh and you should not drink it. The alternative to boza – ayran, is basically a deluded with water Bulgarian yogurt. Salt and even pepper can be added to the drink.

Other breakfast options are tutmanik утманик) and milinka илинка). Both are breakfast breads with cheese and eggs but each has a typical taste and different preparation method. Mekitsa (мекица) is a bulgarian sort of donut, usually consumed for breakfast too. It can be eaten both with sweet and savoury additions such as white cheese, confectioner’s sugar or jam.

Shopska salad опска салата) is probably one of Bulgaria’s most iconic dishes. It is also a favourite among foreigners. The salad is made of tomato, cucumber and onion. What makes it special, however, is the topping of Bulgarian white pickled cheese ирене). The symphony of the ingredients and the simple oil and vinegar dressing makes this salad outstanding. You can order Shopska salad in any restaurant (it is that popular) and you best try it as a starter, with Rakiya.

Rakiya (ракия) is Bulgaria’s traditional alcohol beverage. It is usually made of grapes, but it can also be produced from plums, apricots, peaches, apples, pears or cherries. The alcohol content is 40-60%. A lot of Bulgarians produce their own homemade rakiya. But don’t limit your alcohol consumption to rakiya. Try some Bulgarian wine too. The country has a long tradition in wine making. If you are more of a beer person, get a Zagorka, Shumensko or Kamenitsa.

The humble bean soup (боб чорба) is a Bulgarian staple. It is an excellent vegetarian dish, but it can also be spiced up with some sausages. The shkembe chorba (шкамбе чорба) soup is a classic dish for those after-a-party days. It is considered to be a hangover remedy. Shkembe chorba is made of lamb, beef or pork tripe, with added milk, paprika and butter. It is served with minced garlic in vinegar. Not a good dish if you have a business meeting or a date later that day.

Bulgarian bean soup

Bulgarian bean soup

For a main dish, Bulgarian moussaka (мусака) is a must-try. It is a casserole with potatoes and minced meat and a pouring of egg and yogurt based sauce. It is served with a spoonful of Bulgarian plain yogurt исело мляко).

Stuffed peppers (пълнени чушки) are a good alternative. They can be both vegetarian, stuffed with rice and sometimes walnuts, or stuffed with minced meat and rice. There is a variant, in which peppers are stuffed with white cheese, covered with egg and flour and fried, called pepper biurek ушки бюрек).

Wine kebab инен кебап) is a popular dish you can easily find in Bulgarian restaurants. It is made of pork lamb or beef chunks, cooked in wine sauce and served with plain white rice.

For a dessert, try some baklava (баклава) or Garash cake араш торта). Baklava, originally Turkish dessert, is prepared in Bulgaria using walnuts and thin filo pastry, soaked in sugar sirup. The Garash cake is basically a thin layered chocolate cake, but it has a typical taste due to the crushed walnuts used in the cake’s layers.

Those are only some of the typical Bulgarian dishes but I hope you can get a general idea of the typical dishes. So, from what was said so far, do you think you would like the Bulgarian cuisine?


May 29

Fruits: Bulgarian Video Lesson

By Darina | Language , Learning

If you want to learn some more Bulgarian words, we suggest you try our new video. Instead of words, this time we use pictures of the fruits to teach you their names in Bulgarian. As usual, each word is repeated in a slower pace. Here is the video:

The point of this exercise is to help you visualise the physical object while learning the word for it in Bulgarian. This way you should be able to learn the words intuitively.

So please tell me at the end: how do you like learning with pictures?

May 09

Bulgarian Currency

By Darina | Culture , History


The official currency in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian lev (лев, plural: лева). It is usually abbreviated “лв.”. The name comes from an archaic form of the word “lion”. One lev equals 100 stotinki (стотинкa, plural: стотинки). The code of the currency according to the international standard is BGN.

History of the Bulgarian lev

The lev was accepted as a Bulgarian currency in 1880 after the country’s liberation from the reign of the Ottoman empire. At the beginning it was not accepted well by Bulgarians. The reason was that During the Ottoman reign and the revolution that followed the generally known currency was gold coins and Russian rublas. The people were distrusting paper money.

The first World War brought inflation in a lot of European countries and Bulgaria was not an exception. The country produced more money in order to pay for the army’s needs and as a result, by the end of the war the Bulgarian lev’s value was 14 times less than before the war.

The Bulgarian bank pegged the lev to the US dollar in order to cope with the inflation. However, when the Big Depression hit the inflation of the lev continued. After 9th of September’s coup in 1944 when the communist party took over, the inflation became uncontrollable and the national bank was forced to issue banknotes which were not backed by gold or silver.

After the second World War, due to a few more money reforms and denomination of the currency, the lev was finally stabilised. The end of the Communist regime in 1989, however, brought several periods of drastic inflation which devalued the lev considerably. This lead to pegging the lev to the Deutsche Mark, with 1000 lev equaling to 1 DM. On 5th of July 1999, the lev was again redenominated at 1000:1 ,making 1 lev equal to 1 DM. With the change of the Deutsche Mark to Euro, the course was left untouched making 1 Euro equal to 1.95 leva.

The Faces on the Banknotes

1 lev Saint John of Rila (Ivan Rilski) is displayed on the one lev banknote. He was the first Bulgarian hermit, pronounced as a saint while still alive. In his honour the beautiful Rila Monastery was build. Note that this banknote was replaced by a coin.

2 leva The 2 leva note is graced by Paisius of Hilendar (Paisii Hilendarski). He is the author of Istoriya Slavyanobulgarskaya, one of the first Bulgarian history books which kindled the Bulgarian national revival.

5 leva Ivan Milev is maybe the least known of all banknote faces. He was a painter and scenographer, representative of Bulgarian modernism.

10 bulgarian levs 20  bulgarian levs

10 leva Petar Beron is a Bulgarian educator known for creating the first Bulgarian primer. The “Fish primer” had a picture of a dolphin on its cover, from where the name erroneously came.

20 leva Stefan Stambolov is a Bulgarian politician who served as Prime Minister. He had nationalistic views and launched a foreign policy which aimed independence for Bulgaria from the interests of any great power.

50 bulgarian levs 100 bulgarian levs

50 leva Pencho Slaveykov was a famous Bulgarian poet.

100 leva Aleko Konstantinov was a famous Bulgarian writer. His most notable character, Bay Ganyo is a collective character of everything that was ridiculous in the Bulgarian culture at the time.

The Lev and the Euro

Bulgaria’s current political goal to join the Euro Union includes adopting the Euro currency by 2015. This, of course, means the Bulgarian lev’s existence will end then too.

The motif for the new Bulgarian euro coins will be the Madara Rider. The Rider is a large rock carving on the Madara Plateau, dated about 710 AD. It is believed to be created by the Thracians and is part of the Unesco World Heritage list.

Jan 01

Free Sofia Tour

By Darina Rossier | Culture , General , Travel

If you plan to visit Bulgaria and stay for a few days in Sofia, don’t miss the Free Sofia Tour. This tour is exactly what it sounds like: it is free and it is in Sofia.

Free Sofia Tour runs twice a day, every day, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Bulgarian time, regardless of the weather and/or holidays. The tour guides are young enthusiasts who will show you around the most beautiful and interesting parts of the city centre, while telling you about Sofia’s history.

The meeting point for the tour is always the same. Here is a map that will help you get there:

View Free Sofia Tour in a larger map

If you want to reach the meeting point by subway, get off at Serdika subway station. Then pass by St. Nedelya church down the street until you reach the courthouse with the big iron lions in front of it. The meeting is by the left lion (if you are watching towards the courthouse).

If you go by taxi, simply tell them to drive you to “Sveta Nedelya” church (Tsuhrkvata Sveta Nedelia). Then all you need to do is cross the street and walk towards the lions.

I hope these instructions will be helpful. If you happen to be visiting Varna or Plovdiv, there are similar free tours there as well.

So if you have already seen Sofia’s centre, do tell: How did you like it?

Nov 28

Bulgarian Macaroni Dessert

By Darina | Cuisine

bulgarian-macaroni-dessert-featuredHere is a little something for a lazy winter afternoon. The following dessers is very easy to make and is delicious. I think it is very interesting, because it is made of pasta. It is, I believe, contemporary Bulgarian cuisine. I haven’t research its roots but I think they did not have it 100 years ago.

In Bulgaria, we used to call all kinds of pasta “macaroni” (макарони), but recently the word “pasta” (паста) is more and more used due to the western influence. However, note that if you speak to an older person in Bulgaria and use the word “pasta” (паста), they might think you mean a layered cake. So, here it is:

The best sort of pasta for this dessert is penne. However it works with any kind. It only gets awkward if the pasta is too big or too long. On the pictures, I’ve used tagliatelle.

bulgarian-macaroni-dessertIngredients (Bulgarian in italics*):

  • 1/2 package (500 g) pasta   макарони
  • 50 g butter   масло
  • 500 ml milk   мляко
  • 4 eggs   яйца
  • 1 package vanilla   ванилия
  • 5-6 Tbsp sugar (or more if you prefer it sweeter)   захар
  1. macaroni-dessert-piecePreheat oven to 180 C
  2. Boil the pasta, according to the instructions on the packet. Drain.
  3. While the pasta is hot, add the butter and let it melt from the heat.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of sugar and mix.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, vanilla and the rest of the sugar.
  6. Pour the pasta in a baking tin or casserole and add the egg and milk mixture. Make sure all pasta is covered.
  7. Bake until all the liquid is solid and the top is golden.
* Can’t read Bulgarian? Join QuickStart Bulgarian now!
Aug 30

Studying Bulgarian with a Story: Little Red Riding Hood

By Darina | Learning

Studying words, phrases and basic grammar is a great way to start learning Bulgarian. However, if you are already more advanced in the language, you can increase your vocabulary and get more used to the way Bulgarian sounds by listening and reading stories.

It took me a while to discover stories that are freely available in both English and Bulgarian, and have Bulgarian audio versions. But my research showed that most famous fairy tales have an Audio version in Bulgarian. Also, the translation to Bulgarian is quite close to the English texts, which makes it the perfect study tool.

So let’s start with the first tale. The brother Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood.


Червената шапчица

Имало някога едно малко сладко момиченце. Всеки го обиквал от пръв поглед, но най-много го обичала баба му, която всеки път се чудела какво да даде на детето. Веднъж му подарила шапчица от червено кадифе, която му стояла тъй хубаво, че то не искало да носи друга и затова хората почнали да го наричат Червената шапчица.

Един ден майка му рекла:

— Червена шапчице, ето ти малко козунак и едно шише вино. Занеси ги на баба си, защото тя е болна и немощна и трябва да се подкрепи. Тръгни, докато слънцето не е почнало да прежуря, върви мирно и тихо и не се отбивай от пътя, защото може да паднеш, да строшиш шишето и да оставиш баба си без вино. А щом влезеш в стаята й, недей забравя да поздравиш с „Добро утро“ и не любопитствувай да видиш какво става край тебе.

— Ще направя всичко така, както ми поръча, мамо — рекла Червената шапчица и подала ръчичка на майка си за сбогом.

Бабата живеела чак в гората, на половин час път от селото. И когато Червената шапчица навлязла в гората, срещнал я вълкът. Но Червената шапчица не знаела, че той е свиреп звяр, и затова никак не се изплашила.

— Добър ден, Червена шапчице — рекъл той.

— Добър ден, Кумчо Вълчо.

— Къде си се запътила рано-рано, Червена шапчице?

— У баба.

— Какво носиш в престилката?

— Козунак и вино. Козунака месихме вчера за болната ми и немощна баба — да похапне и да се подкрепи.

— Къде живее баба ти, Червена шапчице?

— Още четвърт час път навътре в гората: къщата й е под трите високи дъба, а малко по-надолу е лещакът, сигурно го знаеш — рекла Червената шапчица.

„Малкото и крехко момиченце е добра хапка, сигурно е по-вкусно от старицата — рекъл си на ума вълкът, — но трябва да подхвана хитро работата, та да излапам и двете.“

Повървял малко редом с Червената шапчица, а после рекъл:

— Червена шапчице, я виж какви хубави цветя има наоколо! Защо не поглеждаш какво става край тебе? Струва ми се дори, че не чуваш как сладко пеят птичките. Вървиш право напред, като че си тръгнала на училище, а тука, в гората, е толкова весело!

Дигнала очи Червената шапчица, видяла как слънчевите лъчи се провират игриво Между листата на дърветата и как земята е осеяна с хубави цветя и си рекла: „Ще зарадвам баба, ако й занеса китка свежи цветя; още е толкова рано, че пак ще стигна навреме“.

Отбила се от пътя и влязла в гората да подири цветя; но щом откъснела някое, зървала по-надалеко друго още по-хубаво, спускала се към него и така навлизала все по-навътре и по-навътре в гората.

А вълкът отишъл право към къщата на бабата и похлопал на вратата.

Кой е там?

— Аз съм, бабо, Червената шапчица, нося ти козунак и вино. Отвори!

— Натисни ръчката! — викнала бабата. — Съвсем без сили съм, не мога да стана от леглото.

Натиснал вълкът ръчката, вратата се отворила и той, без дума да продума, отишъл право към леглото на бабата и я нагълтал цяла. После облякъл нейни дрехи, сложил нейна домашна шапчица на главата си, мушнал се в леглото и дръпнал завесата пред него.

А Червената шапчица все тичала за цветя и когато набрала толкова много, че не могла да носи повече, сетила се за баба си и отново се запътила към нея. Позачудила се, че вратата е отворена, а като влязла в стаята, всичко вътре й се сторило някак странно, та си помислила: „Друг път ми е толкова приятно у баба, а днес, кой знае защо, ми става страшно!“

— Добро утро! — викнала тя, но никой не й отговорил.

Отишла тогава до леглото и дръпнала завесата. Бабата лежала в леглото, но била нахлупила шапчицата ниско над лицето си и имала много чудноват вид.

— Ой, бабо, колко са ти големи ушите!

— Да те чувам по-лесно.

— Ой, бабо, колко са ти големи очите!

— Да те виждам по-лесно.

— Ой, бабо, колко са ти големи ръцете!

— Да те сграбча по-лесно.

— Ой, бабо, колко е голяма устата ти!

— Да те изям по-лесно.

Още не издумал всичко, скочил вълкът изведнъж от леглото и нагълтал клетата Червена шапчица цяла-целеничка.

Уталожил вълкът глада си, мушнал се пак в леглото, заспал и захъркал тъй силно, че се чувало чак навън. Точно по това време край къщата минал един ловец и си рекъл: „Старицата хърка много силно, трябва да видя да не й се е случило нещо лошо“. Влязъл в стаята, спрял се до леглото и видял в него вълка.

— Тук ли трябваше да те намеря, стари злосторнико? — викнал той. — Отдавна те диря.

Дигнал пушката и се прицелил, но му минало през ума, че вълкът може да е нагълтал бабата и едва ли ще му се удаде да я спаси. Не гръмнал, ами взел една ножица и почнал да разпаря търбуха на вълка. Като го поразпорил малко, пред очите му светнала Червената шапчица; рязнал още малко и ето че момиченцето изскочило и рекло:

— Ой, колко бях се изплашила! В корема на вълка беше ужасно тъмно.

После излязла жива и бабата, но едва-едва дишала. Червената шапчица донесла няколко едри камъни и напълнили с тях търбуха на вълка. Събудил се той след малко, рекъл да скочи от леглото и да побегне, но камъните били толкова тежки, че той се строполил на земята, пребил се и умрял.

Зарадвали се тримата много. Ловецът одрал кожата на вълка и си отишъл у дома, бабата изяла козунака и изпила виното, които й била донесла Червената шапчица, и се подкрепила, а Червената шапчица си рекла: „Докато съм жива друг път няма вече да се отбивам от пътеката и да навлизам в гората, щом мама не ми позволява“.

Някои разправят, че веднъж Червената шапчица пак тръгнала да носи нещо печено на старата си баба, заговорил я друг вълк и искал да я отбие от пътя. Но Червената шапчица не го послушала, продължила все напред и казала на баба си, че я срещнал вълк и й рекъл „добър ден“, но в очите му святкала злоба.

— Ако не бяхме на главния път, сигурно щеше да ме изяде.

— Ела да заключим вратата, та да не може да влезе — рекла бабата.

След малко вълкът похлопал и викнал:

— Бабо, отвори! Аз съм, Червената шапчица, нося ти нещо печенко.

Ала двете се спотайвали вътре и не отворили вратата. Повъртял се сивокожият звяр около къщата, повъртял се, па накрая скочил на покрива: решил да почака, докато привечер Червената шапчица тръгне за дома си, та да се примъкне подире й и да я изяде в тъмното. Ала бабата разбрала какво си е наумил.

Пред къщата имало голямо каменно корито и бабата рекла на момиченцето:

— Червена шапчице, вчера варих наденици. Вземи ведрото и излей водата от тях в коритото!

Носила Червената шапчица вода, носила, докато напълнила голямото, много голямо корито чак догоре. Миризмата от надениците блъснала вълка в носа, той почнал да души и да гледа надолу, и накрая вратът му се източил и станал толкова дълъг, че вълкът не можел вече да се задържи и почнал да се пързаля. Плъзнал се от покрива, паднал право в голямото каменно корито и се удавил.

И после Червената шапчица тръгнала весело назад към къщи и никой не й сторил нищо лошо.


Little Red Riding Hood

Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved by everyone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have given to the child. Once she gave her a little riding hood of red velvet, which suited her so well that she would never wear anything else; so she was always called ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’

One day her mother said to her: ‘Come, Little Red Riding Hood, here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine; take them to your grandmother, she is ill and weak, and they will do her good. Set out before it gets hot, and when you are going, walk nicely and quietly and do not run off the path, or you may fall and break the bottle, and then your grandmother will get nothing; and when you go into her room, don’t forget to say, “Good morning”, and don’t peep into every corner before you do it.’

‘I will take great care,’ said Little Red Riding Hood to her mother, and gave her hand on it.

The grandmother lived out in the wood, half a league from the village, and just as Little Red Riding Hood entered the wood, a wolf met her. Red Riding Hood did not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraid of him.

‘Good day, Little Red Riding Hood,’ said he.

‘Thank you kindly, wolf.’

‘Whither away so early, Little Red Riding Hood?’

‘To my grandmother’s.’

‘What have you got in your apron?’

‘Cake and wine; yesterday was baking-day, so poor sick grandmother is to have something good, to make her stronger.’

‘Where does your grandmother live, Little Red Riding Hood?’

‘A good quarter of a league farther on in the wood; her house stands under the three large oak-trees, the nut-trees are just below; you surely must know it,’ replied Little Red Riding Hood.

The wolf thought to himself: ‘What a tender young creature! what a nice plump mouthful – she will be better to eat than the old woman. I must act craftily, so as to catch both.’

So he walked for a short time by the side of Little Red Riding Hood, and then he said: ‘See, Little Red Riding Hood, how pretty the flowers are about here – why do you not look round? I believe, too, that you do not hear how sweetly the little birds are singing; you walk gravely along as if you were going to school, while everything else out here in the wood is merry.’

Little Red Riding Hood raised her eyes, and when she saw the sunbeams dancing here and there through the trees, and pretty flowers growing everywhere, she thought: ‘Suppose I take grandmother a fresh nosegay; that would please her too. It is so early in the day that I shall still get there in good time.’

So she ran from the path into the wood to look for flowers. And whenever she had picked one, she fancied that she saw a still prettier one farther on, and ran after it, and so got deeper and deeper into the wood.

Meanwhile the wolf ran straight to the grandmother’s house and knocked at the door.

‘Who is there?’

‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ replied the wolf. ‘She is bringing cake and wine; open the door.’

‘Lift the latch,’ called out the grandmother, ‘I am too weak, and cannot get up.’

The wolf lifted the latch, the door sprang open, and without saying a word he went straight to the grandmother’s bed, and devoured her. Then he put on her clothes, dressed himself in her cap, laid himself in bed and drew the curtains.

Little Red Riding Hood, however, had been running about picking flowers, and when she had gathered so many that she could carry no more, she remembered her grandmother, and set out on the way to her.

She was surprised to find the cottage-door standing open, and when she went into the room, she had such a strange feeling that she said to herself: ‘Oh dear! how uneasy I feel today, and at other times I like being with grandmother so much.’ She called out: ‘Good morning,’ but received no answer; so she went to the bed and drew back the curtains. There lay her grandmother with her cap pulled far over her face, and looking very strange.

‘Oh! grandmother,’ she said, ‘what big ears you have!’

‘All the better to hear you with, my child,’ was the reply.

‘But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!’ she said.

‘All the better to see you with, my dear.’

‘But, grandmother, what large hands you have!’

‘All the better to hug you with.’

‘Oh! but, grandmother, what a terrible big mouth you have!’

‘All the better to eat you with!’

And scarcely had the wolf said this, than with one bound he was out of bed and swallowed up Red Riding Hood.

When the wolf had appeased his appetite, he lay down again in the bed, fell asleep and began to snore very loud.

The huntsman was just passing the house, and thought to himself: ‘How the old woman is snoring! I must just see if she wants anything.’ So he went into the room, and when he came to the bed, he saw that the wolf was lying in it.

‘Do I find you here, you old sinner!’ said he. ‘I have long sought you!’ But just as he was going to fire at him, it occurred to him that the wolf might have devoured the grandmother, and that she might still be saved, so he did not fire, but took a pair of scissors, and began to cut open the stomach of the sleeping wolf.

When he had made two snips, he saw the little red riding hood shining, and then he made two snips more, and the little girl sprang out, crying: ‘Ah, how frightened I have been! How dark it was inside the wolf.’

After that the aged grandmother came out alive also, but scarcely able to breathe. Red Riding Hood, however, quickly fetched great stones with which they filled the wolf’s belly, and when he awoke, he wanted to run away, but the stones were so heavy that he collapsed at once, and fell dead.

Then all three were delighted. The huntsman drew off the wolf’s skin and went home with it; the grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine which Red Riding Hood had brought, and revived. But Red Riding Hood thought to herself: ‘As long as I live, I will never leave the path by myself to run into the wood, when my mother has forbidden me to do so.’

It is also related that once, when Red Riding Hood was again taking cakes to the old grandmother, another wolf spoke to her, and tried to entice her from the path. Red Riding Hood, however, was on her guard, and went straight forward on her way, and told her grandmother that she had met the wolf, and that he had said ‘good morning’ to her, but with such a wicked look in his eyes, that if they had not been on the public road she was certain he would have eaten her up.

‘Well,’ said the grandmother, ‘we will shut the door, so that he can not come in.’

Soon afterwards the wolf knocked, and cried: ‘Open the door, grandmother, I am Little Red Riding Hood, and am bringing you some cakes.’

But they did not speak, or open the door, so the grey-beard stole twice or thrice round the house, and at last jumped on the roof, intending to wait until Red Riding Hood went home in the evening, and then to steal after her and devour her in the darkness. But the grandmother saw what was in his thoughts.

In front of the house was a great stone trough, so she said to the child: ‘Take the pail, Red Riding Hood; I made some sausages yesterday, so carry the water in which I boiled them to the trough.’

Red Riding Hood carried until the great trough was quite full. Then the smell of the sausages reached the wolf, and he sniffed and peeped down, and at last stretched out his neck so far that he could no longer keep his footing and began to slip, and slipped down from the roof straight into the great trough, and was drowned. But Red Riding Hood went joyously home, and no one ever did anything to harm her again.

Attribution: The audio version of the fairy tale is provided by avtori.com

Jul 01

Bulgarian Cultural Sea Resorts

By Darina Rossier | Culture , Travel

In our previous article about Bulgarian sea resorts we presented you with some of the largest and most popular Black sea vacation places in Bulgaria. In this article we will show you some smaller sea resorts which, however, have a big history. All of those settlements have been founded in ancient times and have some of their former glory preserved. Those are towns where you can find both golden sand beach holiday and a cultural trip to the past.


(Sozopol; Созопол)

View of the town
Photo by PL Przemek

Sozopol is one of the oldest Bulgarian towns, its first settlement dating back to the Bronze Age. The current town was founded by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC and was initially called Antheia. Soon the town was renamed Apollonia, because the city temple dedicated to Apollo used to contain a famous colossal statue of the Greek god.

Apollonia was located on an islet which is now connected to the mainland with a narrow piece of land. Its inhabitants, mostly Greek, lived by fishing and agriculture. The town soon established itself as a trade and cultural center, having strong relations with the ancient Greek cities. During the 1st century AD, the name Sozopolis began to appear in written documents and coins.

Houses in the old town of Sozopol
Photo by Martyr

During the centuries, Sozopol was part of the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman empires. After the Bulgarian independence war in the 19th century, Sozopol became part of the new Bulgarian kingdom.

Sozopol is located 53km south of Burgas. It is a major seaside resort famous with its golden beaches and the Apollonia art festival which takes place every September. The buildings of the old town are preserved in 18th-19th century Bulgarian style but there are also some remains from the ancient Greek era. In fusion with the ancient atmosphere, Sozopol offers a lot of modern and comfortable hotels.


(Nesebuhr; Несебър)

Fortification in front of Nesebar

Until the Middle Ages, Nesebar was known as Menebria (by the Thracians) and Mesembria (by the Greeks). It was originally a Thracian settlement which later became a Greek colony. Mesembria became an important trading center and a rival to Apollonia. At the 1st century BC, the town fell under Roman rule, but managed to keep its autonomy.

Church of John the Baptist, Nesebar
Photo by Gérard Janot

During the Middle Ages Nesebar was often fought over by the Byzantine and Bulgarian empires. The Bulgarian variant of the name, Nesebar or Mesebar, was first attested in the 11th century. The Turks captured the town in the 15th century. Nesebar reunited with new Bulgarian kingdom in 1885, after the independence war.

Nesebar, or “The Pearl of the Black Sea” contains many historic sites such as an ancient acropolis, temple of Apollo and part of the defensive ancient wall. There are over 40 churches in Nesebar, wholly or partly preserved. The town’s rich history and abundance of historic buildings made it part of the Unesco’s World Heritage Sites.

Jun 03

The Bulgarian Alphabet

By Darina Rossier | Language

We’ve decided to share a mini-lesson of the Bulgarian Alphabet with you. This video is part of our Bulgarian language course called QuickStart Bulgarian. Because it is a beginner course, QuickStart Bulgarian’s first lesson teaches the Bulgarian alphabet, how to read it, as well as explanation related to some challenging letters and specifics. The following video is the “fast mode” of the Bulgarian alphabet, or simply the alphabet without shown examples.

May 24

Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature

By Darina Rossier | Culture , History , Language

Cyril and Methodius

May 24 is the Bulgarian education and culture, and Slavonic literature day. It is also known as the day of St. Cyril and Methodius, in honor of the brothers who created the Cyrillic alphabet. It is a public holiday in Bulgaria, celebrated with an abundance of cultural events.

Cyril and Methodius were canonized as saints for their extensive work for the christianizing of the Slavs and the creation of the first Slavic alphabet. They are also known as “Apostles of the Slavs”.

In a nutshell, Cyril and Methodius were born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. With the help of their uncle, Cyril received his education in the university of Mganaura (the most prestigious school in the Byzantine empire, where the children of the aristocracy got their education) and Methodius received a job as a manager of an area near Thessaloniki.

Cyril’s education and his ability to speak both Arabic and Hebrew made him appropriate for several missions in the Middle East. Then in 862 the prince of Moravia requested from the Byzantine emperor to send missionaries to evangelize his Slavic subjects. Cyril and Methodius were sent for this mission. During their mission they developed the Glagolitic alphabet, with the tasks of translating the Bible in Slavonic. The Glagolitic is the first alphabet used for the Slavonic language.

After the death of his brother, Methodius continued his work among the Slavs with the help of his disciples. However, the new Pope forbade the use of Slavonic for liturgy in the Church and Methodius found himself in an uncomfortable position; he had to flee to the First Bulgarian Empire.

The Glagolitics was based on the Greek letters and was difficult for daily use. St. Clement of Ohrid, a disciple of Cyril and Methodius, simplified the Glagolitic and thus the Cyrillic alphabet was born.

In memory of Cyril and Methodius, the national library of Bulgaria in Sofia bears their names. A statue of the two brothers is situated in front of the library in their honor. Also, the first modern Bulgarian university, the University of Sofia, bears the name of St. Clement of Ohrid.