The district of Varna consists of 12 municipalities with a population of almost 500 000. The municipality of Varna itself comes to 350 000 and 320 000 of them live in the city itself.
Varna is the third biggest city in Bulgaria and is also known as the sea capital of the country. It is located on the Northern Black Sea Coast 470 km east from the capital Sofia, 130 km north from Bourgas and 107 km south from the Romanian border.
The town rises in tiers following the curves of the Bay. The Varna Lake divides the city in two parts connected with a 2050 meter long bridge - Asparuhovo Bridge.
Varna hosts the biggest commercial and passengers' port in Bulgaria. Most commercial ships enter the Varna Lake through a channel below the Asparuhovo Bridge to load their cargo from the factories in Devnya and Beloslav.
The city also has an International Airport with regular flights to 35 countries and 101 towns.
Varna is also a major railway station. The first railway ever built in Bulgaria was connecting Varna and Russe.
Varna is also a summer tourist destination and has a number of resorts in its territories - Golden Sands, Riviera, Chaika, Sunny Day, St Konstantine and Helena.
The National Park Golden Sands is also part of the municipality. The park includes more than 50 rare species included in the Red book.
Contemporary Varna has a number of shopping malls, cinemas, bowling centers, ice ring, sports facilities, restaurants, bars and disco clubs. Every major company has a branch in the city.
According to early documentations Odessos was established by settlers from the Anatolian town Millet during the VI century B.C. This is the era of the so called Great Greek Colonization. The name Odessos means village on the sea and comes from a very ancient language which suggests that the city was inhabited even earlier. At that time the town was an independent polis - an important trade and port center with connections with Greece and Asia Minor.
It was part of the Macedonian Empire during Alexander the Great but shortly after it regained its independency. The city minted its own golden coins in the 3 century B.C. This is a symbol of great economical stability as this was a privilege of the important cities. The increased number of Thracian residents made some changes to the religious life in the city. A supreme god in the pantheon of the city was the Thracian god Darzalas.
In the 15 year A.C. Odessos is included in the territories of the Roman Empire. It remains an important trade and port center. Proofs of that are the bronze scales and balances found from that time. The cultural life was even more lively - lamps, theatre masks, silver statues of an actor and sports facilities have been discovered as well. During the 2nd century the biggest thermas on the Balkan Peninsula were built. They comprised an area of 7000 sq m. After the IV century the city is fortified and gets new thermas.
During the VI century a great number of Slavs settle down in the area. In 681 the Bulgarian Khan Asparuh reaches Varna near Odessos. This is the first time the town was called with this name.
In 1018 the Bulgarian Kingdom is conquered by the Byzantines. A new fortress called Varna was erected on the place of the ancient town Odessos. Once again the city becomes an important port center. A number of golden amphoras imported from Constantinople were found from that time.
In 1201 the Bulgarian king Kaloian added Varna to Bulgarian territories. In 1366 Varna was given to the Dobrudzha ruler Dobrotitza who made it his capital.
In 1389 the city falls under the Ottoman Reign. After the Liberation Varna becomes a cultural center with a great number of museums, theatre, opera house, puppet house, galleries and many others.
- One of the symbols of the city is the Cathedral Saint Bogoroditsa (1886). It was designed and built by architects from Petersburg
- The Roman Therma is also worth visiting. They were built in the 2nd century and comprise an area of 7000 sq m. They are the biggest on the peninsula found so far.
- The Sea Garden of Varna is a unique park located along the coastal area of the city. It takes an area of 85 hectares and includes a number of rare Mediterranean plants. Nowadays the park is a favorite relaxation place for the citizens. It has a planetarium, Dolphinarium, a zoo, Navy museum and quite more entertainment facilities. During the past few years the garden was also decorated with colourful lamps, alleys and benches
- The Festival complex, built in front of the entrance of the Sea Garden is hosting quite a lot international events
- The Palace of Culture and Sports is an interesting building designed in the same style as the Opera in Sydney.
- Pobitite Kamyni Reserve is located 18 km west from Varna. It contains rock columns situated over an area of 5 sq km. They resemble the ruins of an ancient temple. Some of them reach 5-7 meters in height and 3 meters in diameter.
- The Aladzha Monastery is a cave Monastery located on the road towards Golden Sands. It consists of a chain of cells used by monks in the 12th century. The unique colourful paintings on the walls are the reasons the Turks to call it Aladzha (colourful).