Independence weekend

Venue: Zemen, Sofia, Vitosha mountain

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: My beautiful forest / Хубава си моя горо (

3rd of March is Bulgaria’s Independence Day and as it happened to be Friday this year everyone had an extended 3-day weekend out of work. Together with my girlfriend we decided to take it easy and decide what to do day by day without any big plans. And the outcome was that we went for a road trip to a nearby monastery on the first day, a gallery visit in Sofia on the second day, and a walk in the nearby mountain, Vitosha, on the third day. And as always I brought my camera with me and made plenty of pictures, here they come!

On the way to the Zemen monastery we first considered having a picnic at lake Pchelina, but it turned out that the accessible places around the lake were occupied by local fisherman and we didn’t want to disrupt them.
So we went on our way to the Zemen monastery, situated about 70 km away from Sofia. The church is the oldest conserved part of the monastery dating from 11th century AD.
This is the painting at the entrance of the church. It is quite richly painted also inside including some unusual masonic symbols among the usual Biblical scenes, but I was not allowed to take photos unfortunately.
The view from the monastery to the nearby small town of Zemen. At this place we finally managed to have our picnic on the loan next to the church.
The Bulgarian tradition of martenitsa at the beginning of March – it is an old pagan ritual of wearing red and white wool dolls or pieces of string. Sometimes we also leave them at the blossoming trees to welcome the coming spring.
On the way back we passed by the town of Zemen with its abandoned bus station (АВТОГАРА in Bulgarian) right next to the railroad.
We stopped on the side of our road to Sofia for a few last photos of the quiet nature before heading to the city.
Sofia greeted us with a gorgeous pink sky at sunset and eerily empty streets due to the national holiday so I had to stop for some more photos.
The next day we decided to go around Sofia meeting some friends and visiting the gallery for modern art. One of the exhibits was on the theme of the naked male body.
In the next room there were far less people, but at least they were all dressed.
Some cool sculptures I thought would make a nice photo, but by now I already forgot who was their author and what was the emphasis.
The last day of the long weekend we decided to be more active and hike up in the Vitosha mountain, starting from one of the neighborhoods of Sofia – Knyazhevo. This is at the last stop of the tram that took us there, with a nice graffiti wall depicting the old times when Knyazhevo was still a village outside the city and the tram was obviously more retro style.
On the way up there was a nice playground in the forest with some kids running around.
The yellow trail mark on some of the trees leading us up to some of the mountain cabins. Unfortunately the weekend was over so we had to leave the mountain woods and come back to daily life.

30 thoughts on “Independence weekend

  1. We don’t call murals on buildings graffiti, since it could have been commissioned. It was very pretty and historical.
    I did like the ancient monastery and the peaceful lake scene.


  2. What a nice group of photos – I like the variety. I like learning about martenitsa, and the photo of the tassels in a tree – also love the church painting – in America, we don’t see anything that old, except rocks and some trees I guess! 😉 Thank you for the follow, I appreciate it.


  3. Thank you for the follow 🙂 I am glad to have come across yours. Looking forward to browse it. Beautiful photographs and captions which just add so much more to the visual experience. Cheers.


  4. Wonderful photography, and a really interesting look at Bulgaria. I’ve never been there, although I have a son who’s taught at a seminary there. God bless you!


  5. What an awesome photographic essay of a great weekend getaway! I particularly liked the trams – look just like the ones in Prague, where I lived for a year. I’ve never been to Sofia. Thank you so much for following my blog – I’m honored and please stop by any old time. I’ll have some pictures from Prague later this summer since we’re going to visit some friends there.


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