– By Neeta Lal
The city of Burgas located on the Black Sea coast in southeastern Bulgaria is picture postcard turf. Peppered with scenic beaches, a sea garden, a bay with sweeping ocean views, broad promenades, atmospheric eateries and world class hotels and spas, it is fast emerging as a global tourism hub seducing visitors with its intoxicating blend of freshness and aged urbanity.
The city’s dynamic mayor, Dimitar Nikolov is widely credited with transforming Burgas from a somnolent municipality into a vibrant one offering discerning travelers and professionals world class amenities and infrastructure. According to him, the unexplored region offers “a plethora of attractions for Indian travelers keen to explore an immersive and thrilling travel destination”.
“Burgas is an important port city on the Black Sea and currently ranks as a top summer tourist destination. Our coastline is uncrowded, and the seafront park is a major attraction. The city has a lively atmosphere and friendly people who make tourists want to keep coming back,” he elaborates.
Burgas also enjoys four seasons, has a central location, and is part of the European Union which bestows upon its sundry political and geographic benefits, he adds. “We’re also connected to big international airports with a vibrant aviation and train network and high speed highways. We have the fastest internet in the country and our `Internet Project` (an extensive fiber optics network) has opened Burgas to the world,” says Nikolov.
The city attracts art and literature lovers too and has successfully managed to leverage technology to drive its cultural initiatives. The municipality, considered a muse for great European poets and writers due to its spectacular scenery, continues to draw footfalls from artists. “We offer a great cultural ecosystem including a fine arts academy, a constellation of galleries regularly showcasing works by modern and contemporary regional and international artists. Together artists from different cultures and backgrounds allow for dialogues to emerge between the creative community and a global audience.”
An ongoing exhibition presenting Picasso’s 347 Suite series of etchings (the maestro’s last), displayed at the Sea Casino Cultural Center in the city until August 31, 2022, and curated by prominent Bulgarian curator and gallerist Stephan Stoyanov, has been very well received, points out the mayor. “We hope to continue such synergies with leading international museums and galleries to drive engagement with art lovers and artists,” iterates the mayor.
History lovers will revel in the historically rich region that goes back 2,500 years with the Thracians, Greeks and Ottomans all leaving an indelible imprimatur on Burgas. Various archeological sites and excavations have brought to the fore stunning finds about these fascinating civilizations.
The city’s architecture is a big lure too. The Church of Saint Cyril and Methodius known for its striking stained-glass windows is the pivot around which Burgas flows. Its other attractions include the Natural History Museum, Soviet Army Monument and the Archaeological Museum. The Ethnographic Museum celebrates Bulgarian folk culture, with colorful costumes and everyday items. Along Burgas Bay is the Sea Garden, with broad promenades, performances at its Summer Theater and a viewing platform at the end of its pier.
“Burgas has an artistic spirit and art is an integral part of its residents’ life,” informed Rodvesta Stewart, Director, Municipal Enterprise Tourism, Burgäs. “Apart from events at museums and galleries, we also regularly host international culture festivals such as the ongoing Beer Festival and a sand sculpture exhibition showcasing international artists called Burgassic Park.”
The latter exhibits sculptures that depict ancient creatures such as dinosaurs and mammoths inspired by the movie Jurassic Park. The 12 mammoth figures can withstand potential rain due to the special adhesives mixed with the sand. “The artworks weigh 5,600 tons and cover a five-acre area and have received a phenomenal response from visitors. Overall we have a rich calendar of art and culture events drawing the international creative community to live and work here,” avers Stewart.
Due to its scenic locations, Burgas has also attracted the attention of Bollywood directors and location scouts who are keen to shoot here. The municipality is processing proposals from them. The wellness seekers are drawn to the city’s salt and mud lakes that are known to address a range of ailments .
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Burgas offers exciting beach sports including kitesurfing, stand up paddling and snorkelling. It also hosts regional and international regattas. Not far lies Sunny Beach, an expansive beach resort that appeals to young international travelers for its sand dunes, watersports, a thrumming nightlife, clubs and bars, as well as an amusement and water park which offers daytime family entertainment.
Indian foodies can look forward to trying out a fascinating array of cuisines from Chinese, Japanese to Asian, and Mediterranean at Burgas’ F&B outlets ranging from large establishments in opulent buildings to nondescript eateries cosseted along the coastal streets. ““We’re proud of our culinary heritage and local restaurants and hotels serve up delicious local and seasonal dishes for all palates,” explains the mayor.
Due to the proximity to the coast, fresh seafood dishes are offered aplenty. From Tarator, Bulgaria’s beloved cold soup to flavour-charged Kebapche (the Bulgarian version of the kebab) and shopska salata (salad with cheese), diners seeking an immersive culinary experience will not be disappointed. Turkish, Greek and Serbian delicacies are also on offer including cevapi (grilled sausages) and barbecued meats along with wholesome options for vegetarian and vegans.