The town of Balchik is a Black Sea coastal town and seaside resort in the Southern Dobruja area of N-E Bulgaria. It is in Dobrich Province, 35 km southeast of Dobrich and 42 km northeast of Varna. It sprawls scenically along hilly terraces descending from the Dobruja plateau to the sea, and is often called “The White City” because of its white hills.
I always had a calling to this town, since my first visit here. As I am enamoured with southern France, this Balchik place is somehow resembling to. Its light slopes towards the sea, the forests that hang on cliffs right above the waters, place where old ruins and legends abound, I have fallen for this sweet place by the Black Sea.
This part of the historical Dobrudja was acquired by the Romanian Kingdom in 1913, rather unjustly and without any reason. It was regained by Bulgaria during World War I (1916–1919), but Romania restored its authority when hostilities in the region ceased. In 1940, just before the outbreak of World War II in the region, Balchik was ceded by Romania to Bulgaria by the terms of the Craiova Treaty.
Queen Marie’s “Oriental Castle”
The Queen Marie Hotel, right on the shore of the Black Sea
The tile roofs are extremely popular and traditional in Bulgaria.
View from the high gardens, Black Sea is never far.
The former Royal Chapel, named “Stella Maris” by Queen Marie. This is the place where the heart of the Queen was brought after her death.
Walking along the shore is a must for tourists. The far away hills show the Kaliakra Cliffs.
This villa is named “Prince Nicholas”, because it was the summer residence of the HRH Prince Nicholas, one of the Queen Marie sons. It can be rented and I did so, staying here at the time of taking these photographs, 2016.
During Romania’s administration, the Balchik Palace was the favourite summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania and her immediate family. The town is the site of Marie’s Oriental villa, the place where her heart was kept, in accordance with her last wishes, until 1940 (when the Treaty of Craiova awarded the region back to Bulgaria). It was then moved to Bran Castle, in central Romania. Today, the Balchik Palace and the adjacent Balchik Botanical Garden are the town’s most popular landmarks and a popular tourist sightseeing destination.
During the inter-war period, Balchik was also a favourite destination for Romanian avant-garde painters, lending his name to an informal school of post-impressionist painters – the Balcic School of Painting, which is central in the development of Romanian 20th-century painting. Many works of the artists composing the group depict the town’s houses and the Turkish inhabitants, as well as the sea.