Bulgarian Culture – Traditions, Culture, History and Natural Beauty


Bulgaria is an ancient country, which offers an exciting mix of traditions, culture, history, and natural beauty. The country has many UNESCO world heritage sites including the unique rock formations of the Rhodope Mountains and the capital Sofia’s impressive Neoclassical architecture.

Although Bulgaria has been through turbulent times in its past, the country is now a stable and well-developed democracy. Many of the old values have been retained such as the importance of a family and strong community. Bulgarians are generally very hospitable and welcoming to foreign visitors. It is considered polite to greet people with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. It is also important to address people with their titles (if they have them) and surname – it is only among close friends that casual names may be used.

The educational system in Bulgaria has traditionally been highly respected. In recent years however, funding and teacher morale have been strained. Adherence to classical teaching methods has also handicapped development in some technical fields. In addition to a good infrastructure, the country has abundant mineral resources – lignite and anthracite coal and large deposits of non-ferrous metals such as copper and silver.

Traditionally, most Bulgarians lived in nuclear families with one or two children and had a strong belief that a happy life could only be achieved through marriage. Divorce was virtually unheard of until the end of communism and it is still regarded with some disapproval by society.

Most Bulgarians have a strong sense of pride in their country, its culture and history. This is reflected in the country’s rich culture, particularly through literature, music, art and dance. The country is also home to an impressive number of archaeological sites.

A popular traditional dish in Bulgaria is banitsa – a pastry filled with a variety of ingredients such as baklava, spinach, pumpkin, sweet milk, yoghurt or white cheeses and topped with a layer of sirene cheese. It is often served at Christmas and New Year, when it may be decorated with a paper saying to bring luck for the coming year.

Sirene is a soft, creamy and mild cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is a common ingredient in Bulgarian cuisine and you will find grated sirene in salads such as Shopska Salad and also on top of banitsa. It is also layered with filo dough to make the dessert mekitsa which can be flavored with rose petals, walnuts or honey.

The sour cream based soup shkembe chorba is another of Bulgaria’s most famous dishes. It can be spicy or bland depending on the recipe but is usually accompanied by fried paprika and chili. It might take a bit more courage for the less adventurous palates but it is worth trying as it is extremely filling and satisfying.