Melnik and Rozhen Monastery

Europe, Bulgaria, Southwest Bulgaria

Melnik and Rozhen Monastery

No Comments 21 July 2010

Southwestern Bulgaria is something of a spiritual heartland to the country, particularly for its associations with the Macedonia Question. Speaking of spirits, the Monkey’s were raised when he visited Melnik, one of Bulgaria’s ancient winemaking regions.

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Sofia’s religious architecture

Europe, Bulgaria, Sofia

Sofia’s religious architecture

No Comments 21 July 2010

As a crossroads of cultures, Sofia has many religious buildings of outstanding quality. Here the Monkey visits a few of the Bulgarian capital’s classic churches, temples, and mosques.

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Vidin and its Fortress, Baba Vida

Europe, Bulgaria, Northwest Bulgaria

Vidin and its Fortress, Baba Vida

No Comments 21 July 2010

Along the banks of the Danube, the Monkey explores the Bulgarian city of Vidin. In the process, he discovers an unrivaled stone fortress and other remnants of the city’s contested past.

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Alpine terrain near Sofia

Europe, Bulgaria, Sofia

Alpine terrain near Sofia

No Comments 21 July 2010

The Monkey escapes from Sofia to hike in the nearby mountains. Get your boots on!

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More sights in Sofia

Europe, Bulgaria, Sofia

More sights in Sofia

No Comments 21 July 2010

As a one-time resident of Sofia (back in 2001-2002), the Monkey got to explore the city a bit more deeply than some of the places he visits. Here are a few of his photos from those days.

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Recommended reading

A Concise History of Bulgaria
R.J. Crampton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)
This short book has become the go-to summation of this Balkan country’s long and complex history. A perfect introduction to the country.

Beyond the Frontier: The Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944
E.P. Thompson (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997)
A fascinating exploration of a British mission to rendez-vous with Bulgarian Partisans and raise a force against the Nazi-allied royalist dictatorship during World War II. Reads like a spy novel at times, but also a memorial to the author’s brother, who was killed in the effort.

Communism and the Remorse of an Innocent Victimizer
Zlatko Anguelov (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2002)
Part personal memoir, part exploration of the all-encompassing nature of Bulgaria’s Communist government, this book poses uncomfortable questions about the banal, everyday forms of repression and victimization that take root under coercive governments. Anguelov’s observations resonate far beyond Bulgaria’s borders…

The Balkans: A Short History
Mark Mazower (New York: Modern Library Paperback, 2002)
As the title says, a short history of the Balkan region. A helpful intro to this corner of Europe.

The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999
Misha Glenny (New York: Penguin, 2001)
A rather epic undertaking by a former BBC correspondent for Central Europe, this book traces the tumultuous two centuries of the Balkan states’ struggles for independence from the Ottoman Empire, the emergence of pan-Slavic tendencies and their tribulations, and the reign of various regimes of the right and left during the 20th Century. A worthwhile read—don’t let its dimensions frighten you…

Description of a Struggle: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Eastern European Writing
Editor: Michael March (New York: Vintage Books, 1994: Out of print)
A great anthology of short stories from the former Eastern Bloc, providing an evocative snap shot of the early post-Cold War era. Stories are organized by state, with the Bulgarian Victor Paskov’s tale of “Romanian” exiles in the Paris Metro a particular highlight.

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