I recently visited a stunning place in the motherland, which for some inexplicable reason does not feature among the most well-known tourism sites. As I’ve tirelessly preached before (do excuse the patriotic urge), Bulgaria is a place offering numerous wondrous sights, with majestic mountains, breathtaking lakes, wild woods and amazing natural formations. Sadly, it is internationally recognised mostly for the wild party town of Sunny Beach, and possibly as a select skiing destination in the winter months. But there is so much more to it! So much so, that I might actually write a full post dedicated to Bulgaria’s must see places. Look out for that soon!
One such place is The Eyes of God, a karst cave in the Iskar Gorge in Northern Bulgaria. Laying eyes on it was a most humbling, yet incredibly exhilarating experience. If you think the pictures are impressive, then physically being in the cave can make your head spin.
We started off our road trip early on Saturday morning. We had a quick coffee break at a gas station where I couldn’t help but snap this ancient Trabant car which was living a new life as a vibrant planter.
As soon as we arrived, I could feel my excitement level steadily increasing. The cave looks massive even from afar, and the darkness lurking just a few metres from the entrance creates a great sense of mystery.
As you descend further down the trail, the entrance chamber opens up before you, and you see the first few enthusiastic climbers taking on the vertical wall. The sight of people hanging from harnesses and relying purely on their body strength to make their way up this almost flat stone immediately made me want to give it a go.
When you find yourself looking up into the openings on the ceiling in the main chamber of the cave, words are almost certain to escape you. The feeling is formidable and electrifying in equal measures. You can almost feel your whole existence shrinking under the intense gaze above, but you also feel endless, connected with nature and the universe, monumental. You could say you were looking straight into the Eyes of God.
It was hard to leave this place, it had an almost palpable aura of cosmic might, a magnetic force about it, which leaves you feeling like a moth drawn to a flame. Once you’ve actually left, you are overcome by the deceptive sensation of just having woken from a dream.
Fully back to reality, we made our way to a nice little family hotel near Ribaritsa, a small quiet village nestled in the Balkan mountain.
There is opportunity for more sight-seeing in the area – the site of Kostina is where one of the greatest Bulgarian revolutionaries, Georgi Benkovski, was caught and beheaded by an Ottoman search party during the April Uprising, a supressed attempt to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in the 19th century.
After a nice long stroll we were ready to put our feet up and relax. It had been an emotional day, centred around a fascinating new experience. Next time you’re looking at summer holidays, give a thought to an adventure break in Bulgaria. I would highly recommend exploring its variety of wonders, and I hope you’ve felt at least a little bit inspired by my recollection of just this single one. Until next time, when I’ll offer you a nice long list of marvellous places you probably never even knew existed!