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100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria

The Belogradchik rocks
Photo: Veneta Nikolova

“100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria” is a unique Bulgarian national movement aimed to promote tourism in the country. Many young Bulgarians and a number of foreigners are fans of the movement and are ready to visit all the top 100 tourist landmarks. In order to become a member of the club, one needs qualities like curiosity, adventurous spirit, and spare time. Another condition is getting a booklet to place stamps from the visited tourist sites. Those who collect all the stamps get a diploma and a golden badge. There are other prizes, as well.

Etara ethnographic museum village

The biggest prize, of course, is the satisfaction from the experience tourists get from visiting the top 100 Bulgarian tourist sites. For almost half a century the campaign has been very attractive to tourists. The movement started in 1962 when a group of students from Samokov decided to visit the top Bulgarian tourist sites. A few months later, 20 people received the first golden badges at a ceremony on the Musala peak, which is the highest on the Balkans. Many Bulgarians followed the example of the young enthusiasts. During that time, the top 100 sites also included communist monuments and factories and Bulgarians accepted the visits to these sites as a patriotic duty. But times have changed and these sites dropped from the top 100 list. During the democratic changes in Bulgaria the interest in the movement decreased but in 2003 the initiative was restored, as new archeological monuments and natural landmarks were added to the top 100 list. That is how Bulgarians started to collects stamps from tourist sites again and many foreigners also joined them. More than 300 000 people have joined the initiative for the past 7 years. “We were surprised by this huge interest, as there were no advertisements. People often tell us that they just want to get to know Bulgaria better,” Ventsislav Udev from the Bulgarian Tourist Union says.

“The movement includes all kinds of architectural and historical monuments, natural landmarks, and others. Thracian tombs are a hit among tourists. The list includes the major sites that must be seen, such as the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon and the Boat Museum in the Danubean town of Tutrakan. What are the most popular sites in the list?
For 2009 the most popular landmark was the Belogradchik Rocks, which also took part in the New 7 Wonders of the World international campaign. The Etar ethnographic complex, the ancient town of Zlatograd, and the caves in Bulgaria are also among the most popular tourist sites from the list,” Mr Udev said.

Zlatograd

One of the last additions to the list is the Uzana locality, where the geographic center of Bulgaria is situated. The Bulgarian Tourist Union has also published a number of information booklets and maps.
The Uzana locality
Most of the enthusiasts are young people and children. “Actually 90% of the participants in the movement are young people,” Ventsislav Udev says. About 60 000 tourists took part in the initiative in 2009. 1500 people among them are foreigners. Most of them are from neighboring Balkan countries, as well as Germany, Hungary, Russia, and Japan. Those who managed to visit the top 100 tourist sites participate in a lottery. In 2010 the prizes include a new car, excursions, and sports equipment. Some of the fans of the movement are officials from the foreign embassies in Bulgaria. Recently Vietnam ambassador to Bulgaria Fam Kuok Bao also received a golden badge for visiting all the top 100 Bulgarian tourist sites. “ The initiative becomes more and more attractive and we expect the number of participants to reach 100 000 people in 2010,” Ventsislav Udev from the Bulgarian Tourist Union says in conclusion.

English: Alexander Markov

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