A good way to start the day.

After the horrible day I spent yesterday travelling from Greece to Bulgaria I have to admit that I’m still a bit worried about connections and bus. For today, I’m aware that there is just one bus going to Burgas and leaving at a reasonable time and I don’t want to miss it. On the other hand, since I’m in Haskovo, I don’t want to miss as well the two important sights that are this area: the church of Assumption in Uzundjovo and the tomb in Aleksandrovo.
I will try to put all the tiles together and make with them a proper mosaic. However, first of all I will have my breakfast and this is a very good way to start the day. I need to pamper myself.
After it, from the girl at the hotel’s reception I know that the bus to Burgas will leave at 13:30. This is going to be the cornerstone for building today’s plan. Now my idea is the following: a quick tour of the town since all the attractions are at walkable distance, then check-out and with luggages on to find a taxi for doing the Uzundjovo/Aleksandrovo tour. The same taxi can bring, in the end at bus station since it is not in the centre. The two mentioned villages are on the same road and Aleksandrovo that is the farthest is only 15 kilometres far so, if I hurry up, my plan should be feasible. Then, don’t waste time and let’s go.

Downtown Haskovo.

My hotel is close to centre. Main square that is at a distance of about one kilometre has more less square shape and is quite nice. The typical main square of a small town, with some gardens and benches. Square in HaskovoProbably the most significant thing to see is a Thracian dolmen located in the middle. There is also a great sculpture called the ”Envy” representing a figure whose wings are hold by two hands. Thanks to a public map I find out that the tourist information office is very close so I go there. The three girls working there are very helpful and they give me all hints I need to reach the two sights out of town and they even check with taxi drivers how much it would cost me the whole tour. One of the three proposes me to show me where is the Eski (Old) Mosque, the oldest one in the entire Balkan area. The mosque should be nice but is quite hard to say since it is completely surrounded by shops. Inscription in Eski MosqueOnly visible part is the minaret. It is even difficult to identify how to get in. In the end I find a door with the sign “Iman” written on it and I enter. It is the right one. The mosque is very small. Year of construction according the islamic calendar is reported over the gate with Arabic figures. You can see it in the picture, it is that “V9V” that is actually 797 in Arabic Numbers. Year 797 of Islamic Calendar is 1394-1395 or Gregorian Calendar. I have to hurry so I go quickly to another interesting part of this quiet town. Ploshtat Svoboda (Freedom square) hosts two towers. Statue of Virgin MaryFirst of all there is a modern one with a very peculiar design that was built to celebrate 1.000 years from the foundation of the town. The second one looks much older and nicer but it was recently rebuilt using as model the previous city tower that was destroyed. Modern tower is actually in the place where it was the original and its copy is only 100 meters far. Well, I know, it is quite complicate. It’s time to go to see once again the local proud: the statue of the virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. It is certified by the Guinness book of records as the world tallest. I have to say that I find it quite ugly. Much better the bell tower next to it. By the way, it seems that in this town they really care about the size. On the map provided to me at tourist office it is also mentioned the tallest flagpole of Bulgaria, also hosted in Haskovo. Now I’m again close to the hotel therefore I go immediately to take my luggages and start the second part of the morning.

Uzundjovo church.

After agreement with the taxi driver about the route and the price that is in line with the one estimated by the girl at tourist office, we go immediately in the direction of the first sight: the Church of Assumption in Uzundjovo. I have about two hours to complete the tour. Church of AssumptionWhat moved me to see this monument is that it represents a sort of unicum since it has an hybrid architecture a mix of Islamic and Western style. Reason why is that in this location there was once a church destroyed during the rule of Ottoman Empire and replaced by a new building including a mosque and a Caravanserai. Then, when the the town of Uzundjovo was returned to Bulgaria the church was re-established using part of the existing building. The result is a this very peculiar mix of styles. Arabic inscriptions on the churchFor example there are arabic written over the main gate of the church. It reminded me another quite curious building I’ve see in Karakol, Kirghizystan, few years ago. That one was a mosque built with the style of a buddhist temple belonging to Dungan people (Chinese Muslims living in former Soviet Union). Outside the church is interesting because of the presence at same time of islamic style domes and christian crosses but it is inside that offers its best. There are beautiful frescos that were restored about 10 years ago. Honestly I don’t know how much was restored and how much re-created anew but the result is absolutely beautiful. Usually I spend more time outside a monument than inside but this time it is the opposite. Great place but now let’s move forward.

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