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Free Sofia Tour's Blog

October 30, 2017
Sofia Alternative Tour

Sofia Alternative Tour

Adventure seekers, Sofia Alternative Tour is finally here! 365 Association proudly presents the beginning of something unseen… We have been exploring the city the way no tour guide did before. Therefore, we are ready to give you the chance to unfold some secrets that have stayed hidden even for locals. Until now. Sofia Alternative Tour is here! If you: are always searching for a way off the beaten path; want to see places on your own and take part in a treasure hunt; want to escape from the crowd and participate in something different than your typical tourist experience; are not afraid of city legends and the ghosts behind them; sometimes act before you think and jump before you are pushed; think you can handle the Bulgarian style of communication; like riddles and you think you can deal with the pieces of the Sofia puzzle; are comfortable with giving, taking and sharing; If you’re The Alternative Tourist – Our brand new project is for you. You will discover the hidden spots of Sofia on your own, […]
August 10, 2016
6 Interesting Facts we Love about Bulgaria

6 Facts we love about Bulgaria! :)

Free Sofia Tour turns 6 years this week! To celebrate this, we made a list of the 10 countries we’ve had most visitors from. So far we’ve presented to you our #10, Israel, #9, Netherlands, #8, Italy, #7, Australia, #6,France and #5, Spain. Today, we will tell you 6 interesting facts about our number 4 by guests visits with 6133 visitors so far – Bulgaria! Facts about Bulgaria №1: The Cyrillic script was developed in Bulgaria during the 9th century. Now it is used by more than 252million people in the whole world and in more than 50 lanuages. It is predominantly used in many countries such as Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and more.   Fact about Bulgaria №2: The monarch’s title Tzar derived from the word for Ceasar and means emperor. The first Tzar in the world was the Bulgarian Tzar Simeon I. The last person that has this title is again a Bulgarian Tzar – Simeon II. Fact about Bulgaria №3: Sofia is the second oldest capital city in Europe (after Athens in […]
May 11, 2015
The 365: Communist Tour of Sofia | Free Sofia Tour

The 365: Communist Tour of Sofia

This year the 365 Association, which stands behind the Free Tours of Sofia and Plovdiv, is launching two new and exciting projects: the 365: Communist Tour (link for the tour) and Culture Tour (link for the tour). The idea behind starting a 365: Communist Tour actually arose out of the experience of our guides doing the Free Sofia Tour. On many occasions our guests show a deeper interest in the topic and have asked about what it was like in Bulgaria during that period, wanting to learn more about the story of our side of the Cold War. The 365: Communist Tour – Communism and Europe The Cold War is, of course, something that practically affected the whole world in the previous century. It has been over 25 years since communism officially disappeared in Europe. It is natural that memories are already starting to fade away or get distorted. At the same time, most people still have strong opinions on the topic. If you just talk to a local about it, you […]
February 27, 2015
Baba Marta and the Martenitsa

Baba Marta and the Martenitsa – an old Bulgarian tradition

One of the most ancient traditions in Bulgaria is called “Baba Marta” (literally – “Grandma March”). It is a pagan tradition and we celebrate it on 1st of March. The symbol of this tradition is the martenitsa.  The martenitsa is a piece of decoration in red and white, which has two main versions. The traditional one consists of two little dolls – Pizho, the male, is white and Penda, the female, is red. You would usually pin this on your clothes. The other version is a bracelet, made of one red and one white thread, which you can put on your hand. The colors of the martenitsa symbolize Bulgarian beliefs: white is for good health and red is for fertility and to scare away the bad spirits. On March 1 you exchange martenitsa with everybody that you know: family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances. When you give them the decoration you wish them everything you want to happen to them during the year. You will also recieve plenty of martenitsi and you’ll have to wear them till you […]
January 20, 2015
name day

Name day: A Special Day for a Special Name

In this post we would like to introduce you to a widespread Bulgarian tradition: the name day. If you ever wondered what this is or why we have it – apart from the countless Bulgarian holidays, we also have days when we honor our names, so let’s hope that the following will shed some light on the subject. Celebrating name days is a wonderful folk custom, still very common and strongly associated with the life of Bulgarians. It gathers you with your family, gets you to make some new friends, takes you away from the daily grind, but, most of all, it shows respect and attention to a person bearing a special name. This is a tradition (the name day) revered since ancient times, but how old is it actually? Well let’s honor the custom of Free Sofia Tour and start with a small historic introduction. Name days have existed in our culture for a long time. With the introduction of Christianity in Bulgaria, people began to baptize their children using […]
June 6, 2013
Kyustendil: A Hidden Gem

Kyustendil: A Hidden Gem

Kyustendil is not one of those pushy places that get right up to your face and demand your attention. In fact, rather aristocratically, it just is there and it’s up to your own initiative and inquisitiveness to discover it. Quite frankly, you should, because there’s a lot going on there. If you ask a Bulgarian about Kyustendil, most likely they will tell you one thing: ‘cherries’. The whole region is famous within the country with the production of the best quality specimens of this fruit and, accordingly, the town holds an annual Cherry Festival. It was this festival that the 365 Association was invited to witness by the Culture and Spiritual Development Department of the Kyustendil municipality. However, it is not the only thing that was the focus of our visit. Our wonderfully welcoming and helpful hosts made sure it became quite clear that the town has a lot more to offer. Where is Kyustendil? Located in southwest Bulgaria, from a tourist point of view the place basically has everything. If you’re […]
June 3, 2013
The Rhodopes

The Rhodopes – Where Time Has Stopped

The Rhodope Mountains When was the last time that bird songs were the only sound around, your lungs were full of oxygen, and your eyes could not grasp the immensity of the sky with the snowy mountain peaks piercing through it on the horizon? Somewhere deep in the Rhodope mountains the clocks have stopped ticking. As if it is still the time when young boys and girls from times long forgotten were laughing around in the steep cobble stone streets, women were knitting socks on a bench in front of the church and men were gathering the goats from grazing.   Experiencing The Rhodopes There you can taste the past of a nation, you can breathe it; it can make you shudder. You start wondering whether to watch, take pictures, or just close your eyes and let the Universe pulsate in your chest. There your breath turns into eternity. You are alive! Have you just realized that? While taking a sip from the home-made strawberry juice or perhaps the red wine in the local roadside tavern, the stars laid […]
May 30, 2013
Bulgaria - the Land of Roses and rose oil | Free Sofia Tour

Bulgaria – the Land of Roses

Coming to Bulgaria, you have probably heard that our beautiful country is also called “the land of roses”. Bulgaria is world number 1 producer of rose oil – from the rare rose type Rosa Damascena. The oil extracted from Rosa Damascena is used as a base element in cosmetics and perfumery all over the world – and ever since the middle ages! If you are looking for the highest quality of rose oil – you should definitely visit the Bulgarian Valley of Roses 🙂     Gathering the roses is quite labor intensive since it must be done by hand. There are between twenty to forty days per year suitable for harvesting – usually end of May, beginning of June. During that period, in Kazanlak – the biggest city in the Valley of Roses – you can enjoy the Bulgarian Rose Festival. It includes a lot of art activities, performances and wine tasting. For a second consecutive year the guests of Sofia landing at Sofia International Airport will be given […]
May 24, 2013
cyrillic alphabet

May 24th – Slavonic Literature & Culture Day

Bulgaria and the Cyrillic alphabet As you may probably know, Bulgaria is the only country in the European Union that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Our entry into the EU in 2007 made Cyrillic the third official alphabet in the EU after the Latin and Greek ones. On May 24th we celebrate the Slavonic Literature and Culture. We also honor the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet – the brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius and their students. What is the story of the Cyrillic alphabet? In the 9th century there was something like a competition between the Pope in Rome and the Emperor of Constantinople. A competition for influence over the still not Christianized (and mainly Slavonic) peoples in Europe. The Byzantine Emperor and his Patriarch thought it would be a good idea to provide an alphabet to the Slavs. The idea was to eradicate the Western influence. Cyril and Methodius were chosen to go to Great Moravia; parts of today’s Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Their mission  was to create a Slavonic […]

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