Virginia Barton

29 November 2015: St George in Bulgaria

29 November 2015: St George in Bulgaria


29 November 2015


One is dreadfully ignorant. Personally, I try to disguise the fact with all sorts of ruses – waffle being the chief among them. One does not like to expose one’s ignorance. Then suddenly you are rumbled and must come clean: astounded by a fact, a picture, a place, or a person, you suddenly realise, good golly, I am this old and I know absolutely nothing about – in my case very recently – Bulgaria.

I fear it’s too late to go to Plovdiv or Varna; and climbing the Vitosha mountain is out of the question. I did know about the fabulous and largely unspoiled churches, but that’s it.

A son-in-law has just returned from a lengthy trip filming there, and is full of its beauties, people, and culture. He is a well-travelled fellow, having been born in the South of France and explored most of Europe on his motor bike. (He’s the sort of chap with whom BH wouldn’t mind sharing a slit-trench.)

When he finished the job as Art Director on the film and came home, his team presented him with an icon, painted and framed by themselves. Here it is:


Icon Tom


We have not yet seen it in the flesh, as it were, so I can’t describe the icon exactly, what type of paint, or the actual size; but by appearances it looks to become an heirloom in the family.


The fourth century soldier martyr George is patron of countless countries including England and Bulgaria, and despite his exploits being largely mythical (the dragon, for example) he is hugely popular. There are many churches throughout Bulgaria dedicated to him; this one is in the capital, Sofia:




The dominating Hotel Sofia Balkan almost swamps, but cannot crush the little church’s perfection.


Does the Tourist Board tempt you to visit the country? I don’t find this very inviting; it’s the introduction on Bulgaria’s website:

Bulgaria is a Balkan nation with diverse terrain encompassing Black Sea coastline, rivers, including the Danube, and a mountainous interior. A cultural melting pot with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian influences, it has a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes and crafts. At the foot of domed Vitosha mountain is its capital, Sofia, dating to the 5th century B.C.E. Etc.

Does that make you want to go there? Me neither. But the icon and the image of that little round church in Sofia most certainly do.





  • mary says on: December 2, 2015 at 9:02 am


    I have visited Bulgaria, Ginny, and, like your son-in-law, found it very beautiful and welcoming. Great food — amazing vegetarian restaurant “Sun and Moon” on ul. Sptemvri and wonderful little shops and bistros around ul. Ivan Shishman. The churches are amazing, totally unspoilt and very well cared for.

    A momentary bubble post-Communism and pre-Consumerism, I fear.

    • Ginny says on: December 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm


      Lucky you, Mary! Did you take in Plovdiv?

      Could it be that the Soviet era may itself be the “bubble”? After all, the Bulgarians practiced devout Orthodox Christianity for centuries before Communism arrived. Perhaps the reconstruction and care of their religious buildings points to a return of the old beliefs?

      On a lighter note — how was the wine, or is it hop country? Ginny

      • Mary says on: December 7, 2015 at 7:49 pm


        You are right Ginny. Good to look at the bigger (far bigger) picture.

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