The Northern Black Sea coast never ceases to fascinate us with its atmosphere, wild beaches, amazing views and in general the sea as we know it from 15-20 years ago. And not that time has stopped here in the North. Rather, it has managed to preserve its beauty and identity. The real pearl in the crown of our Northern Black Sea coast is undoubtedly Balchik.
The palace in Balchik – the quiet nest of a queen
Established more than 2,600 years ago on the ruins of an old settlement named Kruny (Springs), the town ranks among the most ancient in Europe.
But what can we see when we arrive in Balchik today?
First we head to the architectural park complex”The Palace”, included in the 100 national tourist sites of Bulgaria. Located between the cliffs and the sea, about 2km from Balchik, the palace was the summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria Alexandrina Victoria de Edinburgh (1875-1938). The residence was designed by the Italian architects Amerigo and Augustino in 1924, who took pains to preserve the style of the old buildings.
The new buildings are in harmony with the old ones, preserving the characteristic contrast of the city of white cliffs and red roofs. The old mills have been restored. The shore is decorated with beautiful rectangular terraces, and two springs overflow into water mirrors and waterfalls. The waterfront park is the work of the Swiss gardener Jules Jeannie. Over an area of more than 400 m, there are beautiful wells and gardens where Christian and Muslim symbols intertwine.
Today in the park part of the palace is located the University Botanical Garden, established in 1955 by Acad. prof. Daki Yordanov. It occupies an area of 190 acres and its plant collection now numbers over 3500 species. There are several spaces in the garden. The greenhouses house the largest permanent display of succulents and cacti on the Balkan Peninsula.
On a covered area of 800 square meters, you can see over 2600 species of representatives of the families Cactaceae and Euphorbiaceae, over 400 of them are globally protected, and some are unique – such as the Galapagos cactus. The park area, along with the building stock, is a true monument of garden and park art. The core of the modern botanical garden is the park built for Queen Mary’s residence.
After the walk in the garden and the palace we head to the historical museum in Balchik. It began its history in 1907, but since 1936 it has been housed in a separate building and since 1937 it has been receiving visitors. It contains artefacts from the history of the town from its foundation in the 6th century until its liberation from Romanian occupation in the 1940s.
Balchik also has an art gallery. It was established at the beginning of the 20th century, but after all the exhibits were taken to Romania, it was closed. In 1965 the first exhibition “Balchik and the Sea” was made, and in 1987 the gallery moved to a separate building.
The ancient temple of Cybele will not be overlooked. It is believed to be the only temple of the Great Mother Goddess in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is built of dressed stone blocks and its cape is in the shape of a square. The discovered marble statues of the goddess, coins, vessels are kept in the archaeological exposition of Balchik.
One of the most visited museum sites in the town is the Renaissance complex. It includes the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and a complete reconstruction of the old mutual school, which existed from the mid-nineteenth to the first half of the twentieth century. The church was the first in Balchik and is now active again. The old Renaissance school has been turned into a museum, where one can see a reconstruction of a schoolroom, a teacher’s room and the exhibition “Balchik during the Renaissance”.
Where to walk around Balchik?
This question has many answers. You can taste the effects of the healing mud in the Tuzlata area. Just 36km from Balchik is Cape Kaliakra – an incredible nature reserve of unearthly beauty. On the northern side of Kaliakra is the Bolata reserve. Here is the only sandy beach in the region of Kaliakra, from here the birds pass by on their Via Pontica.
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