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Rediscovering Dobrudja as tourist destination

The region of Dobrudja, located in northern Bulgaria has been a great source of inspiration to one of the most beloved Bulgarian writers – Yordan Yovkov. Many of his stories take place among the golden fields of the region and tell of the lives of the hard-working people living there. To this day, Dobrudja remains the most important wheat-growing region in Bulgaria, but it is not only an agricultural area as it offers interesting sites that are attractive to tourists.

In recent years, rural tourism has been on the rise in the region and a number of small rural houses were converted into guest houses. One such house is located in the village of Bezmer, Tervel municipality, some 30 km away from the land border between Bulgaria and Romania. The village is inhabited by Bulgarians, Turks and Roma and for many years it has been an example of good cohabitation and tolerance among ethnic groups. In 1989, nearly 600 residents left it and moved to Turkey, while in later times the number of economic emigrants started growing. But there are still enthusiasts who want to prove that Dobrudja is alive and rich with its people and traditions. There we have met Nevena Deneva who owns a guest house:

"My task with having a guest house in Bezmer is to promote tourism in this area. I want people to see that Dobrudja has folklore, traditions, crafts… Local people have preserved these values ​​and are happy to present them to the guests. I am an economist by profession. It was a long time ago that the idea of ​​creating a guest house with a museum was born as my whole family has been engaged in folklore and craftsmanship. Everyone is singing and playing. When I retired, I decided to turn the heritage houses of my husband’s parents into such a site. I arranged everything and organized an exhibition dedicated to life and folklore of the people of Dobrudja. The house has become an attractive center for both tourists and guests, as well as for visitors to the ethnographic collection on the ground floor."

Nevena Deneva says that she has benefited from minimal support from the EU funds. "The amount is not big, but the support was very important especially for the people in Dobrudja, because we know the price of every coin," she says and thanks for the financial help from the European funds.

"This part of Dobrudja is not well known among tourists. But there are important sites that are worth seeing. 20 km from Bezmer one can see the archaeological site in the village of Onogur. Archaeologists are also sometimes guests to our house, and every evening they talk about the great discoveries they make.”

A basilica dating back to the 5th century was discovered by archaeologists in the early Byzantine fortress of Palmatis near the village of Onogur. In the distant past the fortress stretched over 200 acres near today’s village of Onogur. The ancient city was destroyed and burned several times by invaders in the 6th and 7th centuries. The basilica was built during the rule of Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565).

But the real wealth of Dobrudja is the hardworking people, traditions and folklore, Ms. Deneva says. Many traditional crafts are still alive in Bezmer. The ethnographic exhibition throws light on the lifestyle of people from the past. After learning about the idea of ​​creating a museum, many of the locals came and donated old artifacts.

"Here I have arranged the various crafts of Dobrudja, as well as exhibits related to the life and work in the region. Everything is a gift from the people of Bezmer. Everyone wanted to bring something.”

Often Turks who left Bulgaria years ago are guests to the house and the songs of various ethnic groups can be heard in it. If you happen to travel to the northeastern corner of Bulgaria, it is good to know that in Bezmer there is a house that has its doors opened for tourists.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: private library

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