country often described to lie at the crossroads linking the
East and West, Bulgaria was the centre of Slavic Europe during
much of the Middle Ages, exerting considerable literary and
cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world
by means of the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools. Bulgaria
is also the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, the second
most widely used alphabet in the world, which was developed
in these two schools in the tenth century. Bulgaria is well-known
for its rich folklore, distinctive traditional music, rituals
and tales, but the country's contribution to humanity also
continued in the nineteenth and twentieth century, when individuals
such as John Atanasoff - born in USA with Bulgarian origin,
regarded as the father of the digital computer, a number of
noted opera singers (Nicolai Ghiaurov, Boris Christoff, Raina
Kabaivanska, Ghena Dimitrova), Anna Veleva, and successful
artists (Christo Javacheff, Pascin, Vladimir Dimitrov) popularized
the culture of Bulgaria abroad.
A number of ancient civilizations, most notably the Thracians,
Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Bulgars, have left their mark
on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. The country
has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of these, two are
Thracian tombs (one in Sveshtari and one in Kazanlak), three
are monuments of medieval Bulgarian culture (the Boyana
Church, the Rila Monastery and the Rock-hewn Churches of
Ivanovo), while the Pirin National Park and the Srebarna
Nature Reserve represent the country's natural beauty, and
the ancient city of Nesebar is a unique combination of European
cultural interaction, as well as, historically, one of the
most important centres of naval trade in the Black Sea.
In addition, the Varna Necropolis, a 3500-3200 BC burial
site, contains what are believed to be the oldest examples
of worked gold in the world.
|The Roman theatre in Plovdiv.
|Stoyan Bachvarov Dramatic Theatre, Varna.
Bulgarian folk music is unique in its complex harmonies
and highly irregular rhythms. These kinds of rhythms, also
called uneven beats or asymmetric measures, were introduced
to musicologists only in 1886 when music teacher Anastas
Stoyan published Bulgarian folk melodies for the first time.
Examples of such beats are 5/8, 7/8, 8/8, 9/8 and 11/8,
or composite ones like (5+7)/8, (15+14)/8 and (9+5)/16 -
(9+5)/16. Each area of Bulgaria has a characteristic music
and dance style. Bulgarian folk music inspired and was used
by musicians like Kate Bush and George Harrison.
Bulgarian vocal style has a unique throat quality, while
the singers themselves are renowned for their range. Their
voices are low and soprano, and the children love singing,
and anything artistic. (Orpheus is said to be from Thrace,
a region partly in Bulgaria.) Diatonic scales predominate
but in the Rhodope mountains, for example, pentatonic scales
occur, while in Thrace chromatic scales with augmented intervals
(similar to the music of Classical Greece). Also, the intonation
varies, and is quite different from the modern Western equal
temperament. Depending on whether the melody moves up or
down, an interval can augment or decrease by a quarter tone.
Musical instruments (also characteristic of the whole Balkan
region) include gaida (bagpipe), kaval (rim-blown flute),
zurna or zurla (another woodwind), tambura (guitar-like),
gadulka (violin-like), and tapan (large two-sided drum).
Dances have complex steps matching the rhythm, and are
often fast. Most are circle-dances or line dances called
horo; but some are done singly or in pairs, like the 7/8
Although traditional music and dance are not popular among
Bulgarian city youth, they are often performed at weddings,
and generally countryside fiests. They are also performed
in Bulgaria and abroad by amateur and professional performing
Number of museums: 220 (2002)
Number of museum exhibits: 5,766,707 (2002)
Number of museum visits: 3,554,515 (2002)
Number of libraries: 49 (2002)
Number of volumes in libraries: 34,676,995 (2002)
Number of library readers: 319,403 (2002)
Number of people: 7,839,374 (2006)