Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plovdiv Ethnographic Museum

The Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum is really close to us. Like it takes less than five minutes to walk there. So I don't know why it took us so long to go, but we finally did, and it was cool.

First, the kids had fun in the courtyard.

This is a huge, beautiful painting in the very large entry area.

From the second story windows looking out into the front courtyard.

I took tons of pictures of traditional costumes. They are so colorful and varied and have beautiful hand-knit socks and intricate scarves and sashes and all kinds of fancy braiding. I'll spare you all of my pictures of that stuff, though. Here's just one.

I think this is a typical rich person's Revival-era room.

Mira with some awesome rugs.

The kids exhausted after exploring the whole place. (Not really that exhausted. They just liked those wide window seats.)

From the front courtyard of the museum, which is a house that was built in 1847 for a wealthy merchant. The tower is the bell tower of Св. Св. Константин и Елена (Saints Konstantin and Elena) church.

Saint Konstantin is none other than Constantine the Great, who was the Roman Emperor who converted to Christianity. It still blows my mind that he was declared Emperor in York, England. At about the same time that he was building a cathedral in York, he was also building a cathedral in Sofia, which we saw when we visited. Only the foundations are left, but both sites have cathedrals there now -- York Minster and Sv. Sofia -- and have preserved the foundations under the newer cathedrals. Saint Elena (or Helena) was his mother. They are both saints in the Orthodox Church.

More graffiti

There's a lot of really cool street art in this pedestrian underpass in Plovdiv, but unfortunately, I don't have pictures of much of it.

Somewhere in Plovdiv.

This is a swimming pool on top of Mladezhki Halm, the tallest hill in Plovdiv.

Somewhere else in Plovdiv.

Somewhere in Sofia.

This is at the bottom of a memorial built for Buglaria's 1300th birthday, which Seth blogged about here (at the very end of the post).

Near the ancient aqueducts in Plovdiv.

A couple by Plovdiv's graffiti artist Билко (Bilko). Jon mentioned him here and included a link to an article about him, which is in Bulgarian, but Google Translate can help with that.

Views from the terrace on a sunny December day

Tomorrow we leave for Sofia. Early on Friday morning, we have a flight from Sofia to Paris and then a flight from Paris to Salt Lake City. It's hard to believe that we'll be in the States in a couple of days, though we won't be back in our own home until the first of March. And while the kids are packing and cleaning, I'm doing some random last-minute blog posts. Ah, my life of leisure!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sounds of Plovdiv

Every day at about 8:00 am, 8:35 am, and 5:00 pm, the bells ring at Sv. Nedelya, the Orthodox church that is almost right next to our house. I can tell that someone is actually ringing them, because some days they're slow and rhythmic and sometimes they ring kind of fast, like someone's in a hurry. And sometimes they get a little out of sync. The times are a little different on Sundays: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, and 4:00 pm. And on holidays, they sometimes ring at different times and for longer. I love hearing them.

Here's another video from Christmas Day. It's long, so don't feel obligated to listen to all of it, but it's an example of how different it sometimes sounds.

And here's a video that I took during the call to prayer at Dzhumaya Mosque.

Another sound that I hope I don't forget is the sounds of the caged birds chirping at our neighbors' house. There are several small cages attached to the outside walls of their house, and each one has a tiny bird in it. I love to hear their happy chatter in the mornings, even when it's cold out. Update: I noticed the day after this post that the birds and their cages have been moved inside for the winter. I'm glad it was unseasonably warm for much of our stay, so we could hear them a lot!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Бачковски манастир (Bachkovo Monastery)

Бачковски манастир / Bachkovo Monastery, founded in 1083, is the second-largest monastery in Bulgaria, and is said to be one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. Those two links go to Wikipedia articles that explain much more, including interesting connections to Georgia and Armenia, and have some good photos. See these pages on and for more history and photos.

A couple of weeks ago I went there for a day with Jacob and Phin. They requested that photos not be taken inside the monastery itself, but we have plenty from the beautiful hills and nature, and of several wonderful small churches up in the mountains.

This is the gate to the monastery grounds:

Water fountains are common, and some like this one have icons and inscriptions too:

This was the furriest fountain we've ever seen:

This is the main monastery entrance:

This is a graveyard and ossuary (bone house), but it wasn't open:

We met a nice man who worked at the monastery in the kitchen, and who took us on a hike into the hills. He took this photo of us:

Our friend pointed out that this is the end of a poem by Пеньо Пенев (Penyo Penev) from 1955, which I believe was at the yard of a former orphanage:

On our walk we came to a walled courtyard with a tiny shrine or chapel built around a spring said to have healing water.

A bit farther up the path was a really tiny shrine built onto the side of a rock hill with steps going up, through, and beyond:

Beyond that was a bigger (but still small) church:

The scenery was beautiful, air clean, weather gorgeous, though as soon as the sun set it got cold quickly!