Close Menu

Bulgaria in pictures

The end seating area of the Roman chariot racing arena in Plovdiv. Built by the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, the course stretched for over 180 metres down what is now the main high street in the town and was recently restored. Able to seat around 30,000 spectators, it is the largest such structure in the Balkans. The city’s Djumaya mosque can be seen in the background. It is one of the oldest mosques in Europe outside of Spain.

The Roman amphitheatre in old Plovdiv. Built by the emperor Trajan (who was immediately prior to Hadrian) it has some 7,000 seats and was damaged by Attila’s Huns in the 5th century AD. It was only discovered in the 1970s after a landslide but is used for concerts to this day. Below is the view out towards the Thracian lowlands and the Rhodope mountains to the south.

Even more ancient history. Plovdiv dates back nearly 6,000 years as a human settlement and its streets and hilltops (seven hills circle the city) are strewn with the debris of civilisations past. The middle step, found just around the corner from the amphitheatre and a little further up the hill, is supposedly ancient Thracian in origin and possibly part of a fort or temple that once rested on the site now occupied by the restaurant the steps lead into.

Bulgarian art, above an archangel (possibly Michael if my Cyrillic is to be trusted) watches over the tasting room at Dragomir Winery, while below, portraits of Bulgarian poets and politicians gaze out at Starata Izba – Parvenetz.

Milko Tsvetkov, owner of Villa Yustina, tastes through his wines with db. As a manufacturer of winemaking equipment, he has one of the most modern wineries in Bulgaria – and more Bulgarian wineries are buying modern equipment for their wineries so that they are as up-to-date as any European equivalent.

A view from foothills of the Rhodopes across the Thracian Lowlands to the Sredna Gora and Balkan Mountains to the north.

And over those hills lies the Valley of Roses, responsible for 85% of the world’s rose oil production. db was assured that when the roses are in bloom the whole valley is filled with their scent – but, sadly, the rose fields are harvested in June (it was not discovered whether the rose growers plant vines at the end of the rows as winemakers do in reverse). The region is an important winegrowing area though and the domain above is Château Copsa in Karlovo. The castle, not an original, is a boutique hotel belonging to the winery.

The view from the north face of the castle looking towards the Balkan Mountains behind which lies another winemaking area towards the Danube and the border with Romania.

And there were at least some ornamental roses in bloom.

A table laden with food and wine, a common sight across the Balkans – and very agreeable it is too.

The harvest was still coming in during db‘s visit, here at Starosel Winery.

The view across the Bessa Valley from Bessa Valley Winery. The valley is named after the Bessi, who were a Thracian tribe that lived, surprisingly, in the region. All of the surrounding hillsides used to be covered in vines but they were pulled up by the communists.

Belonging to Bordeaux magnate Stephan von Neipperg, Bessa Valley is equipped with all of the mod-cons one might expect of a Bordeaux-backed winery, here the barrel room and its new oak from some of France’s best coopers.

The obligatory end of tour beer while out feasting yet again in Plovdiv and enjoying and evening of traditional Bulgarian dances and songs.

Krasimir Patishanov, general manager of Brestovitsa, gets into the spirit of the evening having appropriated someone’s hat – out of shot to the left is a belly dancer.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No