Northeast Bulgarian road trip II: the Black Sea coast

Venue: Cape Kaliakra, Yailata nature reserve, Shabla, Balchik

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Music: Vasil Naidenov – Blue / Васил Найденов – Синева (

As explained in the previous post of the road trip series, the final goal of our spring journey was the Black Sea coast and the wild peonies there. We left Silistra on the Danube river and headed towards Balchik, Kaliakra cape and the wild nature reserve Yailata. Along the way we did find plenty of flowers together with some other nice sights that I’ll show and describe below as always.

An arch remaining from the old ruins of the Kaliakra fortress close to the tip of the cape with the same name.
Some of the other remains from the old fortress are now used as a small orthodox chapel, “St. Nicolas”.
This is the view from the western side of the cape to the mainland, while the top photo shows you the eastern side. You can see a small mussel farm in the water and the wind turbines further back implying the typical windy weather in this region of the Black Sea coast.
Another 20km further north is Yailata where the nature and the seashore look very similar to Kaliakra. This is the place to look for the wild peonies, which are supposed to be particularly beautiful to observe at night with the moonlight and the sea behind. We only managed to walk around during the afternoon but it was still quite pleasurable.
Another small chapel, this time constructed within a cave inside the nature reserve. People carved some religious messages inside the walls and places small icons wherever they could find a spot in the cave.
And here are the legendary wild peonies, hidden in the bushes among the other spring flowers. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any wild peonies growing right next to the cliffs in order to get the best photo possible, so maybe I should think about a second try next year.
And this is the lighthouse in Shabla, another 10km further north. I was a bit disappointed by it in real life, but it doesn’t look so bad on the photo, does it?
We spent the evening in Balchik, which is the largest town in this part of the seaside. It was still early for the busy tourist season but there were still quite a few nice restaurants close to the port.
Blachik is actually best known not for its beach but for its botanic garden and palace. The botanical garden is a property of the Sofia University and hosts a large variety of plants, among which many cacti (as in the plural of cactus).
The nice red blossoms of one particular cactus species (of course I forgot the name) in the botanic garden.
Inside the botanic garden there are also some typical old houses from the end of 19th century, some of which are kept untouched and others are turned into small shops or restaurants. The one here was used as a wine cellar and shop offering some very old looking spirits. I tried the rakia (hard fruit liquor) made from pumpkins and it was very good.
Still in the botanic garden, but close to the beach now. There was an oriental looking construction of arches with a small pool in the middle.
More flowers and arches near the sea.
And this is the Blachik palace, which was the summer villa for the Queen Marie of Romania during the decade when this region of the Bulgarian coast was part of Romania. Apparently Marie was very open to diverse religions because the extravagant minaret that tops the building coexists with a Christian chapel right beneath.
One final view of the strange palace and the lone boat in the calm sea from a bit further up in the botanic garden. With this our time was up and we headed back to Sofia.

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