If you have watched Life in Four Seasons short film, then you may be curious to learn more about the magnificent locations of the film’s story scenes. In this article we have described the history, geography, customs and origin of each one of 19 locations in Bulgaria where the film was shot over the course of 5 months.
1st Scene – Plana Village – 40 min from Capital Sofia
Plana is a small village, situated along the Plana mountain 2ridge at 1200 m. above sea level.
2nd Scene – The Erma River Gorge (79km west from Sofia)
Only 79 km from Sofia, the Erma’s River Gorge offers more than just relaxation and a breath of fresh mountain air, but also an opportunity for various sports. Rocks in the gorge are quite high, probably over 80-100 meters. Erma Gorge eco foot path is 13 kilometers long and takes about 8 hours.
3rd Scene – Thracian Tomb of Mezek
Mezek Thracian tomb dates back to the 4th century BC. During those times Bulgaria’s lands were inhabited by numerous of Thracian tribes, living under the Odrysian kingdom. It is believed that the capital of the kingdom was somewhere near today’s Edirne, Turkey, just 50 km far from Mezek.
4th Scene – Beautiful Ethnographic Village Shiroka Laka (Kukeri Ritual)
Shiroka laka is a Bulgarian village that has been classified as an architectural and folklore reserve. The village has unique architecture and is one of the birthing places of the traditional Rhodope songs.
Kukeri Ritual is celebrated in Bulgaria for millennia. Bulgaria’s kukeri dancers don dramatic costumes to dispel evil and invite good. The bells’ clanging and the costumes’ shocking faces divert the evil eye, but the mummers’ dancing path throughout the village also invoke the fertility of people, animals, and agriculture.
5th Scene – Nestinarstvo (Bulgarian ritual happening at different places of Bulgaria)
Bulgaria is a country with unique and mystical customs. Nestinatstvo is one of the most impressive and astonishing religious practices in the country. It consists mainly of dancing on red hot coals and it has been classified intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. In Bulgaria, Nestinarstvo is still practiced only in selected few regions and it's ancient tradition might soon be lost. We believe that we must keep our traditions alive because within them we can find who we truly are.
6th Scene – The Ancient Amphitheater in Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the oldest inhabited town in Europe and the sixth oldest in the world. It's built around seven hills (Plovdiv's so called "tepes"). There are a lot of landmarks worth visiting in Plovdiv, and among them are the Old Town, the roman stadium which's capacity was around 30 000 spectators and the ancient theatre, built in first century A.D. But the city's magic is so vast, it can be felt in every small street, every nook and cranny.
The Ancient theatre of Philipoppol (Plovdiv’s old name) was used for gladiatorial and hunting games, theatre performances, as well as a seat of the General Assembly of the Roman province of Thrace (Tracon koinon). Nowadays, the Ancient theatre is symbolical for Plovdiv and adjusted to the city’s modern cultural life. Some of the best annual events are the International Folklore Festival, the Opera Festival "Opera Open", the Rock Festival "Sounds of Ages" and many others.
7th Scene – Seven Rila Lakes and the Brotherhood of Light
If there’s one magnificent view to take your breath away, it could well be the Seven Rila Lakes. These glacial lakes are over 2000m high and are situated in the Rila National Park, the largest protected area in Bulgaria. Terraced between pine forests, deep valleys, majestic rocks and grassy slopes, the Cirque of the lakes lead up the mountain like large footprints and are named after their characteristic features: The Tear (highest), The Eye, The Kidney, The Twin, The Fish, and The Lower Lake. One of the Rila lakes walking trails is connected to the nearby Rila Monastery, a popular UNESCO site in Bulgaria.
The Brotherhood of Light annual gathering takes place on Rila mountain, home to the Seven Rila Lakes. Around 2000 people dance at sunrise in August to mark the beginning of the new divine year. The movement was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Bulgarian Peter Deunov. The gathering is based on the paneurhythmy dance - a system of physical musical exercises. There is an emphasis on brotherly love, a healthy diet and living in harmony with nature.
8th Scene – Bachkovo Monastary
The Bachkovo monastery is UNESCO site, located in the Rhodope Mountains, not far from the town of Plovdiv. Founded in the 11th century, it is one of the oldest monas-teries in the Balkan Peninsula.It was connected with three cultures: Byzantine, old Georgean and Bulgarian. It has preserved unique and highly valuable monuments of architecture and painting, typical of Eastern Orthodox culture.
9th Scene – Han Krum Rock Monastery
The Han Krum rock monastery is situated on the Shoumen plateau near village of Khan Krum. It is a natural cave, which was further adapted and transformed for the needs of the monks. The temple has skillfully and precisely carved directly into the rock. The monastery church is different from other rock churches in the region because it has a "concha" ("concha" is a semicircular niche) in the north and south walls of the temples. It is among the best preserved rock monasteries in Bulgaria.
10th Scene - Tsarevets (Fortress) in Veliko Turnovo
Tsarevets is a place Bulgarians consider a national icon. The fortress is a stronghold that protected the town of Veliko Turnovo, capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, until it succumbed to Ottoman invaders in 1393.
In the Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine period, the fortress of Momina Krepost (“Maiden’s Fortress"), also known as Devingrad (“Virgins’ Town"), was established to protect the connection of the Early Byzantine town on the Tsarevets Hill to the road between Nicopolis ad Istrum (north of Veliko Tarnovo) and Kabile (near today’s southeastern Bulgarian city of Yambol).
One of the legend about naming the fortress ‘Maiden fortress’ goes like that: Velislava, the beautiful daughter of Strashimir, a rich and powerful Bulgarian boyar (a medieval Bulgarian title for a noble second in rank only to the Tsar) was in love with a brave and beautiful but poor young man named Borimir. Instead, Strashimir wanted to marry Velislava to the rich but cowardly Svetoslav. Borimir was summoned to the Bulgarian army during a Byzantine invasion, with the war putting off the wedding between Velislava and Svetoslav. When the Bulgarians fended off the attack and peace was restored, the wedding was supposed to take place but the night of the wedding celebrated with a feast in the imperial palace in Tarnovgrad (Veliko Turnovo), Velislava disappeared and was found in her wedding dress near the Yantra River, after she had jumped off the tower of the fortress across from the Tsarevets Hill. After her death, Borimir left a flower on her grave, and nobody ever saw him again
Тук има 2-ра легенда, но тя е по-скоро за отмъщение и реванш. Легендата е за Балдуин и как царицата (жената на Калоян) се влюбила в него, иска да избягат заедно. Балдуин и казва, че няма чувства към нея и тя за отмъщение разказва на Калоян, че Балдуин я харесва и обръща историята. Разярения Калоян заповядва на стражите да убият Балдуин
11th Scene – Rose Valley close to Karlovo (Rose picking tradition)
The Rose Valley spans the Karlovo and the Kazanluk hollows and it's well known for it's roses. The roses from the valley have become one of the things synonymous with Bulgaria and every year there is a rose festival held - one of the most important events for the region. Rose growing is a Bulgarian ritual with over 100 years of tradition.
12th Scene – Gela Village (Traditional Bulgarian Fold Gathering)
Gela is a small village in southern Bulgaria, near the city of Smolyan. A legend says that Gela is Orpheus’s birthplace and that he was stepping down to seek Eurydice in nearby Devil’s Throat cave.
There is an annual Bagpipe Contest held in Gela beginning of August. The bagpipe is one of the many traditional instruments that present the Bulgarian culture to the world even nowadays.
The goal of the festival is to promote the authentic Rhodope folklore, history and traditions.
13th Scene – Battle of Shipka Pass
The Battle of Shipka Pass remains in History as one of the most heroic ones in the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-1878. It contributes to the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke that lasted for 5 centuries.
The battles, which lasted for 6 days at Shipka pass are known as The Shipka epopee. The Turks led by Sulleiman Pasha advanced with a huge army from the south and attacked the detachment led by General Stoletov, who had to fight the Turks with a limited number of solders, around 5500 initially. The defenders of the pass were short-numbered, but they were ready to fight to the end. In the most dramatic moment of the battle in the 3rd and most important day, the defenders received support from General Radetski, who sent 2 Cossacs brigades and the 4th rifle brigade. At that time the Bulgarian and the Russian troops, who were defending the pass were running out of power. All defenders, including the wounded took part in the battle. The Turkish soldiers were horrified when stones, wood and bodies started to fly towards them. Thus, after 6 days of heavy battles, the mount Shipka was successfully defended.
14th Scene - Alexandra Jekova Pro Snowboarder at Todorka Mountaintop
Alexandra Jekova won a silver medal in 2012 Winter X Games in Aspen and a gold medal in the snowboard cross in the Winter Universiade in 2015 in Granada.
Todorka Mountaintop is a massive peak in the Pirin Mountains of south-western Bulgaria. It is the only peak of the Todorka side ridge and has a summit elevation of 2746 m (9009 ft.) above sea level.
15th Scene – Yordan Yovchev 6 times Olympian at the Wonderful Bridges
Yordan Yovchev took part in six consecutive Olympic Games, more than any other Bulgarian athlete in Olympic history. He is president of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation and also works as a sports commentator.
The Wonderful Bridges are an incredible rock phenomenon in the west part of Rhodope mountain. They are situated in the karst valley of the River Ekrupia, in the foothills of the Big Persenk Peak.
16th Scene – Nikolai Buhalov 2 times Olympic Champion in Kanu Kayak at Arda River
Nikolai Buhalov is a two-time winner of the Canoe World Cup – upon the establishment of the Cup in 1993 and in 1995.
Arda is the longest river in the Rhodope mountain. The river flows from its source near the village of Arda into the Maritsa river on the border of Greece and Turkey. There are three hydroelectric and irrigation dams along the way - Kardzhali Dam, Studen Kladenets and Ivaylovgrad Dam.
17th Scene – Petar Stoychev 11 times World Champion in Swimming Open Waters at Cape Kaliakra
Petar Stoychev has won 11 consecutive victories at the Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog in Magog, Canada (34 km) and at Lac Saint-Jean in Roberval, Canada (32 km)
Kaliakra is a long and narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast,
18th Scene – Ivet Lalova European Champion in Sprint Running at Sunflower field near the capital Sofia
Ivet Lalova won gold at the 2012 European Athletics Championships in the Women's 100 metres. In July 2016 she won two silver medals at the 2016 European Athletics Championships in both the Women's 100 and 200 metres.
In Bulgaria early July is the time to see the sunflowers in their glory. There are endless fields of sunflowers, following the sun all over the country.
19th Scene – The Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Ensemble at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia
Bulgaria is well known with its rhythmic gymnasts since 1980-s, known as the "Golden Girls" of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Ensemble latest achievement is the gold medals of the mixed combination with hoops and clubs at the World Cup in rhythmic gymnastics in Baku in 2019,
The Alexander Nevski cathedral serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and primary tourist attractions.
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