Three Undiscovered Historical Sites in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe expert Steven Warrender brings you these almost undiscovered towns in the region.
Located in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine the sites are located on a trail that stretches from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia all the way up North to Odessa, Ukraine. All of these small towns are well off the beaten track with and definitely worth a visit.
Lovech (“Loh-vetch”) is off the main railway line so you have to change. Nonetheless, Lovech is served by a handful of buses each day and well worth a visit . Going to Lovech can be combined with a trip to nearby Troyan, another picturesque small town that was named after the Roman Emporer Trajan.
Lovech is very easy to walk around and is not busy with either people or traffic. The heart of Lovech is the historical Varosha district and the wonderful covered wooden bridge over the river Osam, and this leads to a small square with cafes, restaurants. It is a great place to stop to eat and drink before making your way through the rest of the Varosha district.
After a steady climb through quiet narrow streets and paths, passing old traditional Bulgarian houses you will get to the heights of the Hisarya Fort. The Fort is not complete by any means, but there are walls standing and the steep climb to the top is rewarded by the breathtaking views for miles around as well as the fresh air and the intrigueing view of the fort itself.
Coming back down to the centre, you can follow the river southwards and make a gentle walk into the woodlands just outside the town before returning and admiring the baroque houses and shops around the area of the covered bridge. Quiet and relaxing and well worth straying off the beaten track.
When visiting Transylvania you are spoilt for choice, but it would be a mistake to miss out on Medias, a very small town that you can pass on a ring road and never even notice it and thus dismiss it as nothing to be seen. But inside that ring road is a great heart, an old centre of magnificent buildings and old traditional one storey houses that have been preserved and not spoilt by progress, overbuilding or change.
Mainly traffic free and very quiet in this part of town you are left to just meander around the streets and uncover the delights as you go. It is a really good way to discover Medias, the colors of the buildings really add to the ambience and you can sense the history around you as you walk around the nearly deserted streets that are almost entirely unhindered by noise or traffic.
Apart from the fantastic houses there are churches and a great little square complete with cafes, restaurants and a very nice little park where you can relax and take in the atmosphere. Medias is great to take in along with a visit to the more famous Sighisoara nearby,and is definitely not to be missed.
Bilhorod is easily accessed by train or bus from Odessa and is great for a day trip. You can order a Bus ticket from Odessa to Bilhorod-Dniestrovskiy online for 70 Ukrainian Gryvna which is just 2,5€.
The main attraction there is the magnificent preserved Akkerman Fortress, a huge and imposing structure that sits on the edge of the Dniester Estuary and has great views from the top of the walls of the fortress out over the wide expanse of the estuary.
The atmosphere is pretty quiet apart from the odd small boat and looks a haven for the local wildlife. The fortress is located on the edge of town. If you arrive on bus or train head for the centre on the other side and you can’t really miss it.
You can spend a good few hours walking around within its walls, climbing up the steps that scale most of the walls and walking on top of them as they are so wide.
The grounds are also interesting with working museums where you can watch craftspeople, dress up in medieval clothes for photos and have a drink and a snack at the cafe,which is much needed on a hot day after scaling up and down all the steps in the fortress. Walking around Akkerman Fortress is quite strenuous and suitable footwear is a very good idea.
Back in town, it is pretty quiet around the streets. Pretty interesting if unspectacular, nonetheless worthile and a great sight is Park Peremogi, a beautiful place to visit that has some great murals and art from the Second World War. The park itself appears to be a memorial to the soldiers who fought in the war, it is not to be missed for lovers of war time memorabilia and Akkerman Fortress is not to be missed for anything.
Here is a great Video that was filmed by a local (open in new tab here)
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