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Balchik

 
     The ancient town of Balchik has a history spanning over 2,600 years. During that period it was known as the ancient Greek colony of Krouni, the Greek and subsequently Byzantine fortress of Dionyssopolis, medieval Bulgarian town Karvouna and the Ottoman and subsequently again Bulgarian town of Balchik. The town was named after the Boyar Balik who owned it and ruled over it. In the period between 1913-1940 Balchik was under Romanian rule. The 2,600 year old Balchik (formerly known as the city of Dionysos - Dionysopolis) is a small but very romantic Bulgarian seaside town. It is located partly on the sea shore and partly on the Dobroudzha and the Frangen plateau. The height varies from sea level to the level of the plateau and reaches up to 250 meters.
     Today Balchik is a small but very romantic Bulgarian seaside town. With its white rocks, and houses, standing in tiers, the pearl of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is a preferred place for rest and tourism by the people of art and culture, scientists and foreign visitors. With its narrow streets and picturesque landscape, the town is a living symbol of a peaceful world. The view of the town from the sea impressed the great Ovid, who exclaimed: "O white stone town, I salute thee for thy inimitable beauty!".
     The beach strip reaches up to 30 kilometers in length, which is an important premise for the development of the region in the sphere of tourism and recreation. This area is extremely rich in mineral springs and underground waters, which are the main sources for the modern water-supply system with a capacity of 1000 liters per second. There is a big harbour used for medium–sized passenger and trade vessels.
     One of the most interesting places in the vicinity of the town is the Quiet Nest Palace - a modest building constructed upon three terraces, combining elements of the Moor style, Mediterranean architecture and the typical Bulgarian house. The extravagant minaret renders a touch of oriental opulence to the building. The architectural complex was built by Italian architects Amerigo and Agustino in the period 1920-1936. It was the summer residence of the Romanian queen at the time of the Romanian occupation of South Dobroudzha.
The place is famous mainly for its exotic botanical garden - the biggest and most diverse in the Balkans. Flowers and trees from the Mediterranean islands, the Pacific Ocean, the Black Sea, South Asia, and America delight the visitor. The garden is a "residence" of about 3,000 spieces (over 250 of which are cactuses), set up between waterfalls, streams and ornamental canals.
 
     History

     The place was first inhabited in the 5th century BC. A settlement was founded here and was called "Kruni" or "Krounoy". The name of the town comes from the Greek word "izvori" (springs) as there are a lot of Karst curing springs in the area. Later on it was renamed "Dionisipolis" after the name of "Dionisius", God of wine and feasts. 
     The image of this God was on the coins minted here, and the town was also the most important center, second only to Odessoss (Varna) on the northern Black sea coast till the beginning of the new era. After a sequence of invasions at the time of the Roman Empire the town fell to decay. It became possession of Boyar Balik, and so it was called Balchik. After the Crimean war (1853-1856) the town flourished and grew into a big corn - trading center. After the Balkan war in 1893 it was included in the territories of Romania. Struck by the nature beauty of the place Queen Maria built a palace and a Botanical Garden, a chapel and a villa complex for the Romanian aristocrats. The town turned into a luxury resort. After 1940 Balchik was again included in Bulgarian territory.
 
     Landmarks

     Apart from the Palace complex and the botanical garden – the biggest and most din on the Balkans, the town is attractive to tourist with its ancient atmosphere that has been preserved for centuries now. It is interesting to walk along and observe the Tartar quarter with the pebbled streets and the stone and adobe houses. The Art Gallery of the town and the History Museum are very interesting. The coastal alley, 4 km long, is a nice place for strolling, so are the harbour and the small street around the mosque. There is a small ethnographic museum, a beautiful old church St. Nikolay and an old mosque. The Renaissance complex with the old school in the town is quite well preserved. 
 
     Surroundings

     The area of Touzlata is located 4 km east from the town and is well known for its curing mud. A balneo – center was built here beside the two lakes, formed by old landslide. It receives patients suffering from disorders of the bones. A large recreation complex, a lot of villas, bungalows and a camping site have been built here. There is a mineral spring water with temperature of 31 degrees C. 15 km south-west from Balchik is the village of Obrochishte with a well-preserved fortress dating back to the early ottoman rule.