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Culture in Strandja

Strandja is a stronghold of Bulgarian culture. Here the vibrant Bulgarian culture is not just a thing of the past, but still very much alive.

The Strandja people are very proud of their cultural heritage and preserve it in their everyday life. Today you can still experience those old Strandja traditions that have survived the ages.

Five Bulgarian women in traditional customes sit on wooden stools in the forest.

Rural Bulgarian villages

Many villages in Strandja give you the feeling time has stood still. During your holiday to Strandja you can see beautiful traditional houses with a stone base and wooden cladding.

Donkey and cart is still in use for transport. And when you follow the country lanes out of the village into the open fields, you often come across shepherds with their flocks. The traditional rural way of life is becoming rarer and rarer in Europe. But in Bulgaria it still thrives.

By coming on holiday to Strandja you help to preserve Strandja's unique cultural heritage, because eco-tourism creates a vital source of income to Bulgarian village communities.

See responsible travel for more information on how your holiday helps.

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Colourful Bulgarian traditions

In Strandja you can still experience many Bulgarian traditions and folklore. These traditions are full of reference to the mystical ways of nature. They tell stories, happy and sad, about Strandja's history.

Musicians that play the bagpipe, large drum and flute accompany festivities in Bulgaria. The traditional Bulgarian Horo dance, of which many intricate variations exist, is something you may see in Strandja. Young and old practise folk dancing at every opportunity and with great enthusiasm!

Traditional Bulgarian dress is very bright and colourful, and the detailed embroidery is a true work of art. You can recognise the traditional dress of the Strandja people by deep red aprons with white lines worn by the women.

Throughout the year there are several celebrations, and during your holiday to Bulgaria you will be able to experience the vibrant and colourful Strandja culture for yourself.

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Nestinar fire dancing

Nestinar fire dancing is one of the most special cultural celebrations in Strandja. Nestinar fire dancing is an ancient practise dating back to pagan times. It is celebrated on the days of St Konstantin & Elena at the beginning of June in Bulgari village. The fire-dancers, or Nestinari, go into a trancelike state and dance to ancient drum and bagpipe rhythms on hot embers, while holding the icons of the Saints.

This unique Nestinarstvo fire dancing ritual has recently been entered onto the UNESCO Tangible Heritage List, as an important part of the living heritage of the world.

For more information see our blog article about Nestinar Fire-dancing in the Strandja Mountains

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Bulgarian icons and churches

During your holiday to Strandja you can see many Bulgarian icons. These icons play an important role in the religious life of Bulgarians. They are beautifully painted portraits of Christ or the saints.

Bulgarian icons are holy objects and the people in Strandja actively use them during religious celebrations. When not in use you can see them in churches and chapels, where they sit on carved wooden screens.

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Rituals in nature

An important part of religious life in Bulgaria happens in nature. Many villages in Strandja have chapels scattered around them, often deep in wooded valleys. Many of these chapels are near springs, which are said to have healing properties. They are perfect places for quiet contemplation and relaxation.

The routes of our suggested walks come along several of these beautiful chapels. Or you can visit the churches in Malko Turnovo and Kosti.

If your holiday coincides with one of the holidays of the Saints, you will be able to join the Strandja people in their unique celebrations.

Nature & Culture holiday to Strandja

Visit our Nature and Culture holiday page to see what a Nature and Culture holiday to Strandja in Bulgaria could look like.

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More about Strandja

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The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. - St. Augustine