Archive for the ‘ Bulgaria ’ Category

Bulgaria: A different colonial yoke

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Copyright Keyvan Tabari 2009. All Rights Reserved.

The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or otherwise distributed without the prior written authorization of Keyvan Tabari.

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abstract: The narrative of victimhood as a legacy of “colonialism” might feel proprietary to non-Europeans. Bulgarians offer a contrast. The “yoke” Bulgaria complains about is the one imposed by four centuries of Ottoman “oppression,” that separated it from the rest of “Christian Europe.” In this story the Church is the agent of liberation, as a result, ironically, of the distinct religious autonomy allowed to four groups of non-Muslims in the millet (community) system of the Ottoman Theocratic-Imperial rule. Still more paradoxes color the Bulgarian complaint. The Ottomans were Turkish tribes just like the Bulgars, both relative newcomers here from Central Asia and beyond. Furthermore, they were successors to the Byzantine Empire which had long fought and invaded Bulgaria, as was common for geographically adjacent states. Bulgaria’s seemingly insistent omission from its history of the developments of four centuries of Ottoman domination is belied by the extensive Turkish influence that permeates its culture: music, dance, crafts, textile, clothes, architecture and language. This was all intriguing for me as a first-time visitor.

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National narrative of history

            I crossed the Danube on the Communist era Friendship Bridge from Romania to Bulgaria. In August, the famously mighty river looked wide and calm. It was another river that looked impressive that day. The Yantra lived up to the meaning of its Thracian name, “quick flowing,” as it continued to carve a deep horseshoe canyon among four tall hills in Veliko Tarnovo .

            This old settlement was established by the Thracian tribes who lived in Bulgaria since at least 3000 B.C. The Romans who came this way early in the new era recognized the unique strategic significance of Veliko Tarnovo’s Tsarevets Hill, a rock that is made naturally inaccessible by the canyons of the Yantra. The Romans’ fortress of walls and towers were augmented by the citadel that the invading Byzantine built in the 5th Century. Veliko Tarnovo’s glory days, however, were as the capital of the 2nd Bulgarian Empire, 1187-1393. The Bulgarian tribes, who arrived here from the area between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in the middle of

the 7th Century, constructed on Tsarevets Hill more than 400 houses, Royal Palaces, 18 churches and many monasteries.

            To see the ruins of those buildings, I had crossed the drawbridge that separated Tsarevets Hill from today’s Veliko Tarnovo. I was standing next to a group of students from the local university who were taking an outdoors history exam. The teacher from the school, considered Bulgaria’s most prestigious, looked serious. A friendly student became the interpreter for me.

            As I learned, Bulgarians take great pride in their history. Like other nations, their narrative is distinctly national. Even an ordinary city street map points out that “Bulgaria is the oldest surviving state in Europe which have (sic) kept its original name -since 681 AD.” The relationship with Europe is central in this historiography.

            The Bulgarian Empire lost its luster in defeats at the hands of the neighboring Byzantine Empire. The latter’s successor in Asia Minor, the Ottoman Turks, followed in 1396. They destroyed the Tsarevets fortress and did not leave Bulgaria until 1877. After liberation, Veliko Tarnovo was chosen as the venue to write the new Bulgaria’s Constitution in 1879 and to proclaim the country’s independence in 1908. The nearly 400 years of Ottoman rule is virtually ignored in the history of Bulgaria that I heard or read. It is a veritable black hole. The “Turkish yoke” seems too traumatic to deal with, except by simply expressing great resentment. It is deemed to be a period when the Muslim Ottomans isolated Bulgaria from the rest of Christian Europe. In that summary the Bulgarians compress their deepest preferences and dislikes.

Veliko Tarnovo

            The 13th Century Patriarch’s Complex is the only large area that has been restored in Tsarevets Hill. I went inside the Church of the Patriarchate where new frescoes in bold black and red colors were painted in the 1980s. These were not religious scenes but depicted Bulgarian history. I climbed the Church’s tower and in the panorama below saw the “Execution Rock” on the edge of a cliff. Among traitors pushed into the Yantra River from the Rock was Patriarch Joachim III in 1300. In the ruins of a vast amphitheater of the Royal quarters from which 22 successive Bulgarian kings ruled, a theater group was rehearsing a play against a backdrop of religious figures hung around the stage.

            In my hotel the portrait of Tsar Simeon (893-917), under whom Bulgaria reached the zenith of its power, dominated the wall of its restaurant. Through the opposite window we could see a light and sound spectacle about the Second Bulgarian Empire which was staged on Tsarevets Hill across the canyon. I struck up a conversation with a local resident who had returned from working in Spain. “I just loved my country,” was his explanation for leaving a

much more lucrative job abroad. The sound of Bulgarian folk music filled the air. A man was on a keyboard and a violinist played while strolling in front. They were accompanied by two vocalists, a man and a woman. In their break they all sat down at a corner table to eat with their children. The waiter asked how I wanted my bread which was baked like a pizza in an open oven. The choices were with soft sirine (white) cheese and hard kashkaval (yellow) cheese.

            The scene was less festive in the bar of the Kiev Hotel across the street. The dark room with about twenty tables and red leather seats and drawn curtains was almost empty. A young man was drinking a red soft drink from a tea glass and reading a newspaper in Cyrillic print spread on a card table before him. At the other end, an older man sat on a couch and smoked. A skinny girl with pimples and wearing a shabby dress was the bartender. Bottles of beer and soft drinks kept in a cabinet were all that she could offer. Time was trapped here. In the stillness there seemed to be no expectation of anything to happen. You could imagine the specter of a Communist era Securitate agent with the collars of his trench coat pullet up under a fedora watching you from a dark corner.

Arbanassi

            As Veliko Tarnovo was abandoned during the Ottoman rule, the nearby village of Arbanassi emerged in late 15th Century. “It thrived,” we were told “because the Turks exempted its wealthy Orthodox Christian residents from taxation, in return for guarding the mountain passes in the area.” The 17th Century Konstantsliev House which we visited had the looks of a home of a prosperous Ottoman Turk. Much of the vast main room was filled by a big wooden platform covered with carpets that served both as a bed and sitting and dining room furniture. “They also ate and entertained there.” The bathroom next to it on this second floor had “a Turkish triangular hole in the ground for discharges.”

            The Christian population of Arbanassi had been circumspect. The exterior of their early 17th Century Nativity Church did not have the typical Orthodox dome or the shape of the cross, and its windows were discrete. A brick circle on the ground inside substituted for the dome. The frescoes on the wall had secular elements. There was a twelve-sided zodiac as the circle of life and women in local dresses as pilgrims to the Holy Land. Among inscriptions in Greek, the figure of Eve was oddly identified by Latin letters, Hava . “The painter probably did not know Latin and just copied the letters,” the guide told me as explanation.

            The crooked, narrow streets of Arbanassi featured women vendors of embroidery, one of the two main traditional Bulgarian crafts. The other was wood carving which we saw demonstrated in the Etar Village Museum, an hour’s drive from Veliko Tarnovo. Life as lived since the middle of the 18th century was on display here. “In some villages nearby much is still the same,” we were told. Laundry was washed in a spinning device located outdoors and powered by the kinetic force of a short waterfall from a running stream.

Shipka

            Bulgarians are indebted to the Russians for liberating them from the Ottomans in 1878 and acknowledge this by the Monument to Freedom at the 4300 feet Shipka Pass over the Balkan Mountain. In the one-year war with Turkey, the Russians lost some 200,000 soldiers, many of them at this strategic location where the Bulgarian militia armed with mere rocks helped in repulsing a major Ottoman attack. The Russian cannons of that war have been left, showing the direction of the attack in the stunning mountain scenery . Down in the valley, the 1890 Shipka Memorial Church with gleaming golden onion domes graphically depicts the Russian victory. The cross of this church is the Russian Cross with three parts, one of which is a cross hoisted over the Turkish crescent. Inside, the names of the Russian generals of the war are inscribed on the exalted walls that are also adorned with portraits of medieval Bulgarian kings.

            The Ottomans had held onto this region, called Eastern Rumelia, for seven more years after the war. This is the Valley of Roses with 350 years of a rose growing industry which began when Turkish merchants planted a variety of pink roses from Tunisia. The soil and climate here are ideal for growing roses. In the parking lot of the Russian church the vendors offered bottles of rose oil. Over 85% of the world’s rose oil which is the source of perfume and many other products is made here. The rose fields which we were seeing now “are covered in May to June by fragrant flowers,” our guide said. They harvest the crop when the blossoms open, at dawn before their oil evaporates.

            This valley has also been called by another name, the Valley of the Thracian Kings because several Thracian royal tombs have been unearthed here since 1965. The most famous tomb is located in the town of Kazanluk. We walked through the terraced Tylube park to see mural paintings of the Kazanluk Vault  which are considered to be masterpieces of Thracian paintings of the end of the 4th century. To preserve the fragile paintings tourists are shown only a full scale replica. Battle scenes decorated the vaulted entry to the burial center which had a dome with murals of a funeral celebration showing both the deceased and his wife. Our guide shared with us the local legend that the Thracian kings had their favorite wife buried alive with them. This seemed to be a version of Herodotus’s more interesting history:

Those of the Thracians who live above the Crestonaeans do the following: each man of them has many wives, and when a man among them dies, there is a great judging of the wives, and much earnestness among his friends in this respect: as to which he had loved the most. She that is so judged to be best loved, and is so honored, is greatly praised by men and women and then slaughtered at his tomb by her closest kinfolk, and, being so slaughtered she is buried with her man. The other wives feel this is a great calamity, for it is for them the greatest of reproaches.”

Plovdiv

            From the windows of my hotel room in Plovdiv I could see the ruins of the Roman forum . They were fenced off but pedestrians walked through the holes in the fence, crossing the ruins as a short cut to offices on the other side. The Romans who came here in the 1st Century also built an amphitheater which is the best preserved in the Balkans. On the day of my visit it was being staged for one of the frequent performances which benefit from the amphitheater’s great acoustics and marble seats.

            Further down the hill, a Roman stadium is left half uncovered in the center of town so as not to unduly encroach on its two neighbors which were themselves monuments to different eras of the history of Plovdiv: a statue of Philip the Macedonia king who ruled here in 4th Century BC, standing as tall as the diamond-patterned minaret of the 15th Century Dzhumaya (Community) Mosque of the Ottoman rulers next to it. 

            The Mosque is still used today, a rare reminder of the time that this city had 500 Mosques. Plovdiv boasted the biggest Turkish community in the Balkans during the Ottoman rule. That distinction has not changed much as an estimated 25% of Plovdiv’s residents are Turkish. The pedestrian heart of Plovdiv still has a mid 19th Century feel. We climbed the hill with the Turkish name Sahat Tepe (Clock Hill) to see the distinct Bulgarian National Revival architecture of the 1830s-1840s.

            These were substantial homes built closely side-by-side along narrow cobblestone streets. Their windows almost touched. Second and third floors were larger than the first floors, counter-levered for maximal use of the limited ground space. The buildings, such as the Turkish merchant Georgiadi’s House, were decorated on the outside. Inside there were delicate wood carvings around the ceilings and low doors connecting several rooms. The roofs had flat tiles. The Kuyumdzhiogh House which was turned into the Ethnographic Museum had a pretty garden in front. Inside the museum, the traditional Bulgarian crafts on display seemed indistinguishable from those of the Ottomans. One was about the manufacturing of aba (robe), another showed “traditional distilling apparatus for attar (rose oil),” and the third had “flasks for attar and rose water.” There were pictures of women picking roses.

            On the street, a souvenirs vendor introduced himself as the “Spirit Man,” and a “teacher.” He said that the Bulgarians were not Turks. They came from northern Iran. “They are the oldest people after the Jews.” Some visiting students from Varna on the Black Sea later joined this discussion. They acknowledged the conventional theory that the Bulgar tribes were of Turkish descent and those of them who came to what is now Bulgaria merged with the Slavs and adopted their South Slavic language. They argued that Bulgarians were still different from other Slavs because of two linguistic differences. “The word chatrang in our language which means something like center is from Sanskrit, and similarly a special sound of “o” in our language does not exist in other Slavic languages.” One student speculated that this may be due to the influence of yet another tribe with whom the Bulgars mixed in this area, “the Alans who spoke an Eastern Iranian language.”

            What these “Danube Bulgarians” have in common with the other Slavs is, of course, Orthodox Christianity –whereas, the Volga Bulgarians who settled further East chose Islam. We were reminded of this as we walked passed the Church of Sts. Konstantin and Elena. Worshipers in their best clothes were going in with flowers in their hands . This was August 15 which is celebrated as the Virgin Mary’s day. The streets nearby were lined up with women on improvised seats, selling flowers for the occasion. 

Sofia                                                               

            Bulgaria’s National (Patriarch) Cathedral in Sofia is named after the 13th Century Prince Alexander Nevsky who is the military hero of Medieval Russian history. It is the biggest Orthodox Church in the Balkans. It was consecrated in 1924, and the smoke from countless candles has since covered much of its frescoes. The Russian diplomats in Bulgaria, however, chose to build their own church, St. Nikolai in 1914, which became a large congregation when the émigrés poured in following the 1917 Russian Revolution. On the day of my visit, a side walk painter was sketching this church, with a sign next to him that said: “I refuse in any way to be identified with Bulgaria .”

            The heart of Sofia is the Rotunda of St. George, an early Byzantine cross-dome architecture built in the 4th Century over a previous Roman rotunda. Frescoes were added in the 12th Century, but were covered up when the Ottomans later turned the church into a mosque. They have since been uncovered as the place has been converted back into a church. Another reminder of the intersection of religion and politics stands nearby. The Nedelya Cathedral had a sign at its entrance about how, in 1925, the Communist attempt here to assassinate the king had failed but had succeeded in wiping out most of his cabinet. The Communists came to power some twenty years later and their Party House still stands in Sofia, now used by the Bulgarian Parliament. Bulgaria’s gratitude toward the Russians extends to the Soviets. Not far from the center of Sofia is a huge socialist realist monument to the Soviet Army.

            Bulgarians have replaced Communism with a Presidential regime which has its own form of “pomp and circumstance.” In front of the Presidency, as the Presidential Palace is called,  we stood to watch the elaborate hourly ceremony of the changing of the guards who high-stepped in their fancy clothes and swords and rifles. Nearby, much of the history of Bulgaria’s diverse rulers is witnessed in the artifacts of Sofia’s Archeological Museum which used to be the city’s Grand Community Mosque. My favorite there, coincidentally, was a stone frieze called An Invitation to the Circus.

            Bulgarian folk songs and dances reflect strong Turkish influence. In a special restaurant at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in Sofia we saw a group perform a rather athletic version of those dances, accompanied by singers and several musicians. Then they came to our table and took us to the stage to join them. After dinner, a series of moves that included “push ups” felt strenuous. My team “won” as though in a contest and we were each rewarded with a bottle of “Gold Beer.” Our guide quipped that at least we were spared the dance of The Feast of St. Constantine and St. Elena. This was the ritual performed barefoot on live coals, holding icons in hands. He pointed out a middle-aged man who was expected to do this dance later. We did not wait to test his devotion. 

Rila

             The lead article in the English language paper, Sofia Morning News, on August 17, 2009, was about the government plan to reduce the “dangerous budget deficit” by cutting the expenditures of government agencies, implementing better tax collection and stopping the flow of contraband. I discussed it with two thoughtful Bulgarian youth I met on a bus. “Our grandparents liked the simple life and not having to work hard during the Communist era: so what if one could not get all the goods or travel? But our parents like the challenges that the post-Communist times offer,” they said. As for themselves, “We don’t like politics because of the corruption, but we want to live in Bulgaria because it is beautiful; it has good mountains and the sea.”

            Disappointment with politics puts in focus the significance of religious symbols. Bulgaria’s “most glorious cultural feast” is on 24th of May. It is described as “the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment, Culture and Slavic script, thanks to the second half of the 10th Century, Holy brothers Cyril and Methodius from Salonika and their disciples.” Bulgarians take special pride that in 1980 the Pope declared the two monks “the patron saints of Europe.”        

            Another monk is credited with awaking the Bulgarians in the middle of the 18th Century to their forgotten national identity. Paisii Hilendarski wrote the first complete history of the Slav-Bulgarian people in 1762. He traveled across Bulgaria reading his book to illiterate people. This eventually led to a resurrection of cultural heritage and identity among an emerging  educated and prosperous urban middle class. This phenomenon, called the National Revival, was helped by the official recognition of an autonomous Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1870 by the Turkish governing authorities.

            Bulgarian monasteries are considered the main preservers of “the nation’s cultural identity during the dark centuries of the Ottoman rule.” None among them was more important than the Rila Monastery, Bulgaria’s largest, hidden away in a wooded valley in the 9000 feet Rila Mountain. It is now the most revered place in the country. I shared my visit there with many Bulgarian pilgrims. “Ivan Rilski from Sofia decided to change his normal life at the age of 25. He went to Rila and entered into a cave and became an exorcist,” my tour guide said. There in 927 he founded a monastic colony of hermits. Their monastery was moved to its present location in 1335. A fire destroyed it in 1883 but it was rebuilt within a year with money from rich Bulgarian families.

            The Monastery is a striking sight with colorful red, black and white striped arcades and four levels of balconies . Monks who live there strolled among the tourists who are allowed to stay in some of the rooms on the premises. I went into the Monastery’s Museum. The product of a monk’s devotion was the highlight here. The Rila Cross is a small wooden crucifix which Brother Raphael started to carve in 1790. It took him 12 years to finish its 40 biblical scenes and more than 650 human figures, all in miniatures. The price he paid was his eyesight.

            In the Rila Museum there were also three Firmans (edicts) of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th Century, 1540, and 1831, all confirming the right of the Monastery to continue its activities. The displays in the Museum demonstrated the significance of these activities. The “Archmandarin” of Rila brought the first printing machine from Vienna to Bulgaria in 1865. The Rila Monastery’s printing house became the first printing studio in Bulgaria. The picture of Hiermonk Neofit Rilski (1793-1881) identified him as the “patron of Bulgarian writers and pedagogues.” He was a prolific writer himself. The Rila Monastery claimed to be a “great school” for the study of “ordinary books,” and “higher sciences.”

            The relics of Ivan Rilski have been cherished for their healing effects. “Byzantine Emperor, Manuel Komnin is believed to have been healed by St. Ivan in the 12th Century,” our guide said. Ivan’s body was kept and distributed to as far away as Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo and even Russia. Today only his left hand remains and for a small fee anyone can attempt to see it in the Nativity Church of the Rila Monastery. I paid the equivalent of 70 cents and approached a box that contained the relic, attended by a monk. Ahead of me a two-year old boy was held up by his parents who made him touch the box and look through the glass top into it. When my turn came, I peered into the little opening and saw something that looked more like the reflection of the light.

            The frescoes on the walls of the church were far more vivid. They are by a number of painters from the National Revival period.  With one exception, none has signed his name as they humbly considered their work not to be theirs but done by “the hand of God.” The exception was the most famous painter of the era, Zahari Zograf (1810-53). His signature accompanies his trademark gory scenes of naked sinners being tortured by demons in hell, all inspired by medieval Bulgarian art.

Varna

            It did not take long to go from the sacred to profane. Flying on the small plane of Bulgaria Air to Varna the next day, a sister and brother shared the row of seats with me. He opened the conversation by saying that he had returned from his job as a DJ in Germany to see his sister. This was his sister’s first time flying, and she spoke no English. The forty something woman was nervous. She sometimes covered her face with her hands. At other times, without asking, she pushed the sleeve of my shirt up to see how much more time was left of the flight, as she did not wear a watch herself. She also took my copy of the in-flight magazine. She showed us a page that had a bilingual article about “The Silicon Valley Girls.” These were famous Bulgarian pop singers. She pointed out the pictures of the ones who had enhanced their voluptuous looking breasts with silicon implants. “This one, however, had hers reduced,” the woman said, according to her brother.

            Varna is a throw back to the days when it was called “The Pearl of the Black Sea.” That is its charm. Its Grand Hotel Musala Palace was Hotel London when it originally opened in 1912. Exquisite stained glass windows adorn the entry door. You have to go several steps to reach a very slow elevator to your room. On the landing the antique shoe polish contraption on the landing still works but sometimes does not stop. The service is impeccable. Breakfast is not buffet-style; you are served your choice at tables covered with white linen. My room had a balcony with a view of the sea. In the afternoon, tea was served on the porch set with straw chairs facing a small park in a cul-de-sac.

            Alas, on the short alley outside the hotel that connects to the center of town, the old tiles were broken, and the big building next door was empty and dirty. Across the alley young woman clerks, fully dressed and made-up, swept the sidewalk in front of their clothing and accessory stores and then stood and smoked while waiting for customers who seldom came. People strolled on the long pedestrian-only streets that stretched from the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin to the beach. Older men carried on conversations on the benches . A woman sat on a low stool and crocheted baby socks to sell. A man hustled tourists, offering them, alternatively, women and exchange for foreign currency. The writing on the sleeve of the T-shirt of a young woman nearby said “Come, get your fun.” Her uninviting appearance, however, indicated that the inscription was more an unintended gibberish. There were several ice cream kiosks. I stopped at one. The vendor rushed to the counter from the back where she was being given a massage by a family friend. In the small park nearby, dominated by a statute of an avuncular leader, a birthday was being celebrated by cheerful children.

            On the day I arrived in Varna a tourist told me that two persons had drowned in the sea. This was unusual because Varna has a fine beach. Varna is also a port. I walked on a path over a sea wall to reach the Captain Cook seafood restaurant facing the busy port. The food was different from the common Bulgarian fare of kebabcheh (grilled spicy meat sausages) and shopska which is a salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions covered with feta cheese. Turbo fish was special to this part of the Black Sea. My server had a name tag which simply said “Waiter”. “It is rare to have a visitor from the United States here,” she said, “most are from Germany, Britain, Scandinavia and Russia.”

            That also seemed to be the case in the newer resorts of Golden Sands and Sunny Beach. Golden Sands was a two mile long strip of gold-colored sands blanketed by sun-bathers and their beach umbrellas. The area behind them was fully occupied by souvenir vendors and, further back, rows of hotels. Sunny Beach was twice as long, with more families of tourists but also with a rowdy group of hustling young beach bums wearing T-shirts which said things like “Party Crew.” The old resort of Balchik in the north was now owned “twenty percent,” by the British expatriates, according to my taxi driver.

Nessebar

            I took the water taxi from Sunny Beach to Nessebar. As we approached it I could see along the coast line of a small peninsula the remains of the fortifications  of the old town of Nessebar including walls of broken rocks joined by mud with gates anchored by two quadrangular towers . These dated back to times as ancient as the 8th Century BC when the Thracians lived here. The Isthmus that connected the peninsula to the mainland was narrow and could easily be cut off by digging. Nessebar was thus deemed defensible against invaders. It was not, however, invincible. Herodotus tells us that the Thracians surrendered without a fight to the army of the Persian King Darius in the 5th Century BC. Groups of Greeks from Asia Minor began coming with that army and settled in the midst of the Thracians. The new population also surrendered when attacked by the Roman legions in 72 BC, and again much later, in 814, to the army of the Bulgarian king. Nessebar fell to the Ottomans in 1453 and was not liberated from their “yoke” until 1878, according to the publication of Nessebar’s Archeological Museum –which did not include artifacts from the Ottoman era.

            I talked to the director of the museum. In the small hall that was to the left of the entrance she showed me millennium- old Thracian triangular stone anchors and the edict of the Thracian dynast Sadales from 3rd Century BC in which he guaranteed the safety of shipping by citizens of Nessebar in return for commercial and political privileges. This was considered a sign that the residents of Nessebar “were good at diplomacy.” In the three other halls were the artifacts of the Hellenist Nessebar: marble figurines and sculptures, terracotta statues and ceramic vessels. There were also some sculptures from the 13th and 14th centuries, which surprisingly did not seem better than the ones from the much earlier periods. The museum had an abundance of old coins in gold, silver and bronze. They had been minted here from the 5th Century to 250 AD.

            Nessebar’s beautyreminded me of Italy’s Amalfi coast. It is the only Bulgaria town on the list of the Sites of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage. This is due to its 13 and 14th Century churches and the buildings of the National Revival period. The Christ Pantokrator  and St. Paraskeva churches have earned Nessebar the title of “the jewel in the crown of Christian Orthodoxy.” These churches are built in the Byzantine “pictorial” style, with ornate facades. Alternating brick and stone layers mixed with green ceramic and turquoise inlays produces an exceptionally attractive exterior. There are blind arches decorated with sun and herringbone designs.  Nessebar also boasts some 100 homes from the National Revival era. Typically they have two stories. The first floor was used for storing grapevine-growing equipment and the second floor consisted of rooms around a large hall. The few picturesque windmills in Nessebar from the 18th Century are additional reminders of the economic revival of the town toward the end of the Ottoman rule.

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This article, entitled Bulgarian Paradox; a different colonial yoke, was published on the following website of Iranian.com on January 14, 2o10,  with related pictures: http://www.iranian.com/main/2010/jan/bulgarian-paradox

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