The city of Bourgas has a population of almost 200,000 people according to recent data, and is the second largest city at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It is also the fourth largest city in the country, following Sofia, Plovdiv and connecting Varna. It is situated in the farthest western part of the Bourgas Bay and 390km east of Sofia. Due to the low level of the coast in the area, three lagoon-lakes (the Atanassovo, Bourgas, and Mandren lakes) lie in the area surrounding the city.
Bourgas is a successor of the small Roman town of Deultum (later named Develt), founded by Emperor Vespasian as a military colony for veterans. Besides Deultum, the present-day city expands over the area of three other ancient settlements, i.e. Kastiacion, Skafida and Rossokastron. In the Middle Ages a small fortress called Pirgos was erected in the place and was most probably used as a watchtower. It was only in 17tn century that a town named Ahelo-Bourgas grew in the present-day area of the city. This, renamed into Bourgas, had only about 3,000 inhabitants at the time of the Liberation. Soon it became the centre of the Southern Black Sea coast, and a city of well developed industry and trade. A number of oil and chemical works producing more than 30 products were gradually built. Salt and iron are also mined here and traded far beyond the borders of the country. In 1903 the railway station in Bourgas started functioning as well, giving an additional boost to the city's expansion.
Places of Interest:
The District Museum of History, founded in 1925, is one of the most impressive tourist sights in the city. Today it houses an archaeological hall with a rich collection of items dating back to the old colonies along the Black Sea coast. The Ethnographic Museum is also of particular appeal to foreigners for its exhibitions of masks of koukeri, traditional costumes, ritual accessories, fabrics and embroidery. The museum is hosted in a house built in 1873 and later declared a cultural monument. The Museum of Nature and Science is another place of interest to visitors of the city. It contains more than 1,200 exhibits of insects and reptiles and more than 140 species of fish, plants growing in the district of Strandzha, protected and endemic species. Another such place is the Art Gallery, established in 1945 with halls exhibiting foreign and of Bulgarian artists' works, and icons painted by renowned Renaissance artists. Among the church buildings, one may wish to visit the St. St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, which raises near the marketplace. The cathedral is interesting for its marvelous frescos and wooden altar. Another impressive sight of Bourgas is the Armenian Church located close to Bulgaria Hotel. It was built in 1855 by the local Armenian minority supported by Bulgarians. Finally, a philharmonic hall, an opera house, a drama theatre and a puppet theater are hosted in beautiful buildings and function during the entire season.
Away from the busy centre of the city, the shady Sea Garden is a lovely place to stroll in hot summer days. The park is situated on a hill next to the coast, and is rich in flowers, trees and sculptures. Within the park there is a casino, a small zoo and an open-air theatre, which houses the annual International Folklore Festival, and where participants in the Golden Orpheus Pop-Festival perform. A beautiful forked staircase in verdure leads from the park down to the central beach of the city. The sand is a mixture of various alloys of magnetite, which is the reason for its dark colour.
The city is full of restaurants, pubs, beer-houses, taverns, and refreshment stalls and groceries. The most famous restaurants are National, Staryat Pristan, Starata Gemiya, Bourgaska Sreshta, as well as hotels' restaurants. Most of the high-class restaurants have live music, while some offer show programmes, too. Food in the city is generally cheap, especially if one goes shopping in the suburbs or at marketplaces.
The Bourgas Airport operates regular flights to Sofia every day. During the summer season, there are up to 7 flights daily in both directions. Flying time to the capital city is about 40min. The airport is an international one and sees increased traffic, including charter flights, during the summer. The railway station of Bourgas has connections to all parts of the country. The express train to Sofia travels less than 6.30 hours. The city's central bus station is located next to the railway station. Buses to the country's largest cities, including Sofia start from there. There are also a lot of private carriers that offer transport to towns and resorts to the north and south of Bourgas along the coast. There is regular city transport - buses, trolley-buses and route taxis.