Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Balchik = Summer Home of the Romanian Queen

We drove north of Varna along the Black Sea coast to the small town of Balchik. The town itself doesn't have much in the way of beaches but its claim to fame is that it served as the summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania, when that country ruled this part of Bulgaria before 1940. Marie, a granddaughter of England's Queen Victoria, started the construction of a palace here in 1936. Today you can visit the palace and the adjacent botanical gardens.


Below is the guardhouse at the entrance to the palace grounds.


The palace grounds are like a small park, with many paths, a waterfall, a stream, all leading down to the Black Sea shore.


We tasted sweet wine (with very strong tastes of honey and almonds). Some of the below bottles may have been from the queen's personal collection.


Overlooking the Black Sea. Queen Marie loved her palace in Balchik so much that she asked for her heart to be kept there after her death. This wish was fulfilled, but in 1941, the area was returned to Bulgaria, and the queen's last remains were moved to Bran Castle in Romania.



The queen's palace was was a very modest villa topped by a minaret. It is not a mosque. According to the guidebook we read, the queen may have adhered to the Bahai faith, or alternatively she may have had a Turkish lover. All the pictures we saw of her walking around the Balchik gardens showed her head covered by a scarf.


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