It is called the White town because of the surrounding white limestone rocks. And in the distant past – Dionysopolis in honour of the Greek god of wine and merriment Dionysus. It was not until the end of the 14th century when Bulgaria finally fell under Ottoman rule when Balchik adopted its present name. In the Historical Museum of the town, you can trace the entire centuries-old history of Balchik, to see many of the findings of archaeologists. And in the centre of the city to see one of, we would say, priceless among them – the remains of the temple of the mother goddess Cybele, revered in antiquity. And today Balchik is a small but friendly port town 40 km north of Varna. Preferred both by lovers of cultural and historical sites and by those who love summer sea recreation in a quieter place, away from the noise of large seaside resorts.
Most Bulgarians and foreigners visit Balchik because of two of its pearls – the Palace of the Romanian Queen Maria of Edinburgh and the Botanical Garden.
The palace, actually – the summer residence of this intelligent and passionate aristocrat of the Bahá’í religion, appears in a particular historical moment for Bulgaria.
In that period: from 1919 to 1940, the Bulgarian region of South Dobrudja was given by the Great Powers after the First World War to be part of the territory of Romania. The queen personally liked the current location of the palace. So in 1924, according to a project by Italian architects, the residence was built, with the name “Silent Nest”.
Its architecture reflects the religious worldview of its owner. The spirit of Baha’i combines with the Islamic elements in the minaret and the layout of Nymphaeum Park.
Christianity is present in the chapel construction and the style of the other buildings, built of the picturesque Balchik stone, in the preserved authenticity of the old Balkan house.
And since we opened the word about the old name of the city – Dionysopolis, along with the details in the summer dream of Queen Maria, you will be able to enter the world of wine among the elixirs on display for tasting and purchase in the royal winery.
One more curious detail: in the castle, except for the royal apartment, anyone who wishes, against a fee, can stay and sleep in one of the apartments of the princes or courtiers, also to dine in the royal dining room!
Many high-ranking officials from Bulgaria and abroad enjoyed this pleasure. Among them is the American director of the best-seller “The Godfather” Francis Ford Coppola.
The Balchik Palace combines magnificently with the beautiful botanical garden, managed by the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. It was established in 1955 by Bulgarian botanists, led by Academician Daki Yordanov on an area of 65 decares.
The garden has the second biggest collection of large cacti in Europe. It includes over 380 rare plant species from around the world and is a fairy tale pleasing to the eye and soul.
When you finish your visit to the castle and the garden, we recommend a walk along the nearly 7 km long coastal promenade called the Dambata. To the south, it will take you to one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in the country, Albena. To the north, the promenade leads you to the city centre, near the yacht port and numerous restaurants and cafes with beautiful sea views.
What else? Perhaps the town art gallery with works of one of the greatest Bulgarian artists Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master; or the ethnographic complex and the Revival church “St. Nikolai Mirlikiiski”, built in 1848.
Balchik is only 36 km from Cape Kaliakra – one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in Northeastern Bulgaria, a natural and archaeological reserve. 70-meter cliffs descend to the sea, in whose waters you can see herds of dolphins, and in the coastal caves until the end of the last century lived a monk seal, which gives the name of one of the local villages – Tyulenovo.
On Kaliakra you can visit the fortress, the small chapel, and the so-called “The gate of the virgins”, where you will hear the touching legend: how 40 girls braided their hair and threw themselves into the sea so as not to fall into the hands of the Ottoman invaders. The small archaeological exposition presents some finds from different epochs, and the guides tell legends about treasures hidden in these lands.
Kaliakra and the surrounding area can be reached by car, but also by yacht. From the yacht marina, you can rent a boat to visit the reserve, to take advantage of fishing or diving. Enjoy beach entertainment on a secluded beach, conveniently equipped for a picnic with a barbecue.
Another idea – to continue the hike through the archaeological sites in the region. Yayla, for example, with cave sanctuaries, rock tombs, ritual sites, even a winery from the period II-V century. Or the village of Kamen Bryag, which every year on July 1 gathers hundreds of people wishing to welcome the first sunny morning in July, as sung in the famous hit of Yuraya Heep “July Morning”.
Not far from Balchik are several of the most popular golf resorts in the region and whoever wants can try his skills in this attractive aristocratic sport or at least take the first lessons.
And for lovers of exotics, we offer several ideas: truffle hunting with specially trained dogs, a visit to a snail farm and the most famous on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, mussel farm “Dalboka”.
Balchik also has a sandy beach and all conditions for sea recreation. And one more thing: in the summer the town hosts international film and concert festivals, plenaries and other similar cultural events.
Although Balchik does not have the fame of a party destination, for lovers of night entertainment, the city offers several cocktail bars and clubs as:
The proximity of the resort of Albena also allows for night experiences.
Balchik offers accommodation in over 130 hotels of various categories, some of which have swimming pools and spa centres. On the website of Boiana-MG, you can find various offers for accommodation in the White City. As far as the SPA services we have another idea – only 8 km from the town is the Balchik saltworks Tuzla, where a modern sanatorium with estuarine mud from the lake of the same name has been built. Tuzla mud has exceptional healing properties and is used for various healing procedures.