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  • Writer's pictureTania Andreea

Balchik - The Castle and Botanical Garden

Realizing that sitting on the beach is not for me and that choosing to plan a vacation only for sunbathing at the Black Sea was not a good idea, I started looking for places to visit near Romanian coast, where I had already been. That's how I came across the "Castle and Botanical Garden" in Balchik, whose existence I already knew, but I hadn't managed to visit them.


The location has important historical value for Romania, although this territory belonged to it for a short time. Balchik Castle was the summer residence of Queen Maria of Romania, at the time when the southern Dobrogea area belonged to Romania. Being a great lover of the sea, the queen found the ideal place to build the much-dreamed-of summer house. I was expecting something much bigger and grander, but probably this queen wanted...something simple, not luxury, not opulence, not expensive marble, but rather a connection with nature, with the sea, with the sunrise that you can admire it from the terrace, with the smell of roses, with the sound of the waves.


The construction was thought to be a complex, with several buildings, including a monastery and six houses, but also with a huge garden.


VISITING THE CASTLE AND THE GARDEN:


In Balcic you can organize either a whole stay, in which you visit the whole town and stay at the beach, or you can only visit the castle and the botanical garden in a one-day trip, as we did.


It is very easy to reach by crossing the border from Vama Veche. The location is 65 kilometers from Romania, which you can cover in about an hour.


The complex is open for visits every day, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the summer, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the cold season, when the day is shorter. The price for the ticket can only be paid in cash. To visit this location, it is enough if you reserve two hours, maybe a little less during the winter, or a little more during the summer, if you choose to go to the beach as well.


Finding a parking space can be problematic, especially at the end of the week, so I recommend getting there as early as possible in the morning to avoid congestion. The parking is charged separately.


In the promenade area, before reaching the ticket office, there are several restaurants where you can eat.


ABOUT BALCHIK CASTLE:


The castle, also called the "Lonely Nest" is the main building of the complex, which was built between 1925-1929 by two Italian companies, following exactly the Queen's specifications. This building represents a combination of architectural styles with both oriental and Bulgarian influence.

balchick castle from northeast bulgaria

As I said at the beginning of the article, the building was thought to be a holiday home, as a result the name "castle" does not fit it completely, potentially creating unrealistic expectations for tourists. The location is very small and simple, not extravagant at all. Personally, I compared this location to the one at Bran Castle, in terms of the interior and furniture.

the interior of balchick castle bulgaria

Inside the complex there is also a place for prayer, a small church, which the Queen requested in her will as the place to keep her heart after her death. Her wish was respected until 1940, when the Quadrilateral returned to Bulgaria, and the Queen's heart was moved.


ABOUT THE BOTANICAL GARDEN:


The complex in Balcic would certainly not be as famous among tourists, if it wasn't for the superb botanical garden, which hosts over 3000 species of plants, some of them very rare. The garden is built in steps, following the shape of the terraced relief.


It is a very vast garden, in which you can easily get lost. The main attraction area is the cactus area, which, I must admit, was my favorite. The succulent garden is considered to be the second largest in Europe. It stretches over a length of one thousand square meters and has a greenhouse.


the botanical garden from balcic bulgaria

The cactus exhibition can be admired in any season, including winter, both in the greenhouse and outside. Outdoor cacti are also resistant to low temperatures.


cacti in the botanical garden in bulgaria

From the entrance, we were greeted by a carpet of colorful flowers. In this area there are also benches, a pond with water lilies and an artesian fountain.

botanical garden from balcic bulgaria

For botany enthusiasts or those who want specific information about the plants from Balcic, I leave a link to the complete list here.


plants at the botanical garden from balchik bulgaria

Inside the garden there is a spring that forms a small pond and later, by joining several water sources, a waterfall. The Botanical Garden is structured into 12 smaller gardens. In the image below, Waterfall Garden.

waterfall at balchik bulgaria

In the Rose Garden, you will find these absolutely gorgeous arches. The location is called the Temple of the Waters or Nympheus. The term "nymphaeum" comes from antiquity. The nymph was considered a young woman who was part of the retinue of a god or goddess. The nymph was the architectural structure dedicated to nymphs, built near water sources, a kind of dwelling for these mythological characters.

the castle from balchik bulgaria


view over the sea at balchik castle

From what I noticed, there is direct access from the garden to the beach. There are several beaches that you can choose from, with sunbeds, umbrellas, bars and restaurants. There is also an area for towels.

the beach from balchik bulgaria

And because the location is related to Queen Maria, I leave a link to a video clip about it, very nicely made. Link here.


Read also about another location in Bulgaria that is only 50km from Romania, Russalka Beach. For more travel destinations and photos, you can also follow me on Instagram, or you can subscribe to be up to date with the latest posts, only your email address is required. Thanks for reading!







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