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Explore Bulgarian Culture Online

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Due to Covid-19 virus pandemic, all cultural events are shut down. Here are a few things about Bulgarian culture that you might explore while staying at home.

Amid the recent health crisis, museums and educational institutions are closing their doors to the mass public. Despite that, some of the most renowned cultural facilities in Bulgaria have found ways to fulfill the critical mission of cultivating creative audiences. While virtual tools and live streaming cannot replace the original experiences, culture-seekers are still left with an option to browse historical collections, enjoy theatrical plays and operas from home.

The oldest and most prestigious Bulgarian opera house – The National Opera, was founded in 1890. Since then, it has been a home to hundreds of composers, choirs, orchestras and ballet troupes. The first full opera to be performed there was back in 1909. In this period a lot of significant Bulgarian works such as Siromahkinya by Emanuil Manolov, Kamen i Tsena by Ivan Ivanov and Vaclav Kaucky, Borislav by Georgi Atanasov and Tahir Begovitsa by Dimitar Hadzhigeorgiev, were as well presented. Gradually, the opera evolved under the ensemble system and style to foster it’s own ballet. The artists dedicated to this art boast with a respectable portfolio of nearly 30 classic titles. Among them are The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Coppelia, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, La dame aux camelias, Scheherezade, Zorba the Greek, Carmen, Rhapsody in Blue, Cinderella, La Sylphide and others. The Sofia Ballet can be easily compared to leading theatres such as Bolshoi, Mariinski, or Grand Opera. Today the venue is offering a chance to hear great operas online on its website.

opera hall

(Sofia Opera and Ballet)

The theaters may be temporarily closed, but we can continue to stay connected to the stage. Currently, The National Theatre is the most prominent and representative symbol of the Bulgarian culture. The theatrical institution has a rich repertoire staging 10 or so premieres per season. Becoming the center of the county’s cultural life, the place keeps in its memory the triumphs of the greatest Bulgarian directors, actors, and poets. By no coincidence, the National Theatre bears the name of one of the greatest national writers – Ivan Vazov (1850-1921). The theatre invites you to be part of its unforgettable performances by putting out plays online.

national theater

(National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”)

Several museums have faced the challenge to tease those who crave cultural enrichment by creating 360-degree views of their stunning halls filled with famous artifacts. Visitors are now able to virtually storm into The National Art Gallery, The Polytechnical Museum of Sofia and The Bulgarian Archeological Museum.

The National Art Gallery houses over 50 000 pieces of Bulgarian art, including the country’s largest collection of medieval paintings. Since 2015, a large number of foreign art masterpieces are exhibited there along with the works of the Bulgarian Revival artists and the first-generation painters from after the Liberation.

art gallery

(The National Art Gallery) 

The National Polytechnic Museum in Sofia is one of the oldest in the country. Since its establishment in 1957, it has successfully executed the task of preserving movable cultural heritage in the field of technology and engineering. The museum has a collection of more than 22 000 items, but only half of them are permanently displayed. The artifacts are divided into exhibitions of time measurement, transportation, photography and cinema, optics, audio equipment, radio and television, computing equipment, communications equipment and etc. Some objects displayed there stand out from the others, for example, the 1952 Messerschmitt automobile and the emblematic Ford Model T from the end of the 1920s.

ford model t

(Ford Model T; image from Motorpress)

Part of the National Archaeological Institute, affiliated with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, The National Archaeological Museum is the main coordinator of archaeological research in Bulgaria. It has a leading role in the research of native prehistory, all the way from Bronze Age and late Antiquity, ancient Thrace, Greece and Rome to the late Middle Ages. As a national depository of artifacts, the institution takes exceptional care of the promotion of Bulgaria’s cultural heritage with an array of experiences and educational resources.

archaeological museum

(National Archaeological Museum; Sachin Bharadwaj)

While COVID-19 is forcing most of us into isolation, this shouldn’t necessarily mean for us to disconnect from the outside world. Thanks to technological advances, we can recreate societal experiences more or less and mark out the things we want to check on our next journey. Visit our blog to learn more about Bulgarian culture.

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