Arts and cultural activities, Environment and sustainability

The Way through the unknown Bulgaria

Development of a tourist and pilgrimage route through known and unknown settlements, crossing Bulgaria from east to west, to stimulate active non-mass tourism along cultural and natural sites.


Who is behind this?

Chavdara Nikolova

Re-animatory Foundation


Who is joining forces?

Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria - regional college Varna


Uzana Nature Park


Potential partners could be Grabrovo Municipality, Dryanovo Municipality, Etara Regional Ethnographic Museum, Rodni Balkani Tourist Association. We already had preliminary talks with some them!


Idea pitch

This project was inspired by the pilgrimage route of St. Jacob - El Camino, providing experience of thousands of people, led by religious, sports and other reasons.
"The Way" will support development of settlements with obvious depopulation process. The team will contact local authorities, representatives of local business, cultural and tourist operators and put them in a situation of interaction to find common solutions so as to promote community development and local sustainability.

Where will your project idea take place?

Settlements from Varna to Sofia along the Balkan Mountain, North-Eastern and South-Central Bulgaria

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Depopulation, aging and economic decline lead to loss of artifacts and opportunities for tourism development in line with the expectations of the modern "cultural nomad" who needs easily accessible and structured information to make a journey. The most visited sacred sites are preserved, but nearby small villages and hamlets of cultural-historical value and a well-preserved level of authenticity are not studied and remain unknown to tourists. Their potential is great as hiking routes can pass through them and help them revive. Our team will seek engaging in a multi-stakeholder dialogue. The planned activities: meetings, round tables, collecting stories, seek to inform local communities about innovative opportunities for developing a national tourist route as a tool for regional development

Who are you doing it for?

“The Way” aims to provoke interest in anyone who wants to discover Bulgaria, not famous, but authentic and mystic, rich in spiritual places and landmarks. “The Way" is for pilgrims who want to see life and sacred places in the central part of the Balkan Mountain; for tourists who are interested in the cultural-historical heritage and those who love nature and hiking. The development of the route will bring tourists and specialists, ready to deepen and supplement the collected information. It will be posted on a website, and local cultural organizations and travel agencies will contribute to its implementation and promotion. Foreign tourists are another target group. They may be attracted by appropriate inclusion of "The Way" to the network of Cultural routes of the Council of Europe

How do you plan to get there?

Preliminary study of an exemplary route Varna - Sofia. Collecting information about conditions for accommodation, transport, etc. Preliminary contact with local representatives. Preparation for passing the route.
Passing the route by car and meeting local representatives. Studying possible interactions with stakeholders. Checking suggested routes
Detailed local studies of cultural-historical sites in the selected regions to illustrate the pilot part of the proposed route and the mechanisms of interaction. The terrain research will be carried out in 2 stages: first: passing the routes, identifying potentially interesting places, research of walking routes; second: extensive prospecting, interviews, documentation of interesting buildings, collection of personal stories. Results and potentials will be discussed at a round table locally.
Summary of the information. Making interactive maps. Developing an action plan, applicable in other parts of the route.
Development of a free website. Informing local communities, corrections and additions, discussing constructive opinions.
Promotion of the results. Due to the Covid situation, stakeholders will be invited to take part in an online conference. To promote the results, local and national media will be included in the webinar.
Seeking interaction with tour operators and international organizations to promote the "

What are the expected results?

The main expected effect of the project is revival of the Bulgarian village and creation of conditions for sustainable development via cultural, active and non-mass tourism resulting in:
- promoting sustainable development at local level;
- building partnerships in different sectors based on exchange of experience and good practices;
- increasing the visibility of the cultural heritage and promoting its preservation.
Many people are looking for the calming effect of living in small towns close to nature, especially now in the contemporary pandemic situation, when people are restricted to travel abroad, they are oriented to discover the sightseeings of their own country. The availability of organized information and good communication would provoke their initiativity and mobility.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Creation of a pilgrim route crossing Bulgaria from East to West is a tool for regional development of small settlements, which has proven its effectiveness in many European countries. The aim is to provoke a multidisciplinary dialogue between the administration, entrepreneurs and cultural organizations to be convinced of the benefits of the project, discuss new solutions and add local initiatives. The Way is not just a physical trajectory, but a network of active actors, aware of the need for collective action and will give impetus to joint initiatives. Local activities and research aim to empower community members to participate in policy-making processes at local level. The planned PR campaign to promote the results is aimed at tourists and pilgrims from the country and abroad.

Why is this idea important to you?

Veselina Tabakova, initiator, dipl. engineer, translator, experienced in mountain hiking and pilgrim routes.
Arch. Emanuela Marinska, graduated architect, ENSA-V, Vesailles, specialty Preservation of Legal Estate Cultural Heritage to National Institute for LECH and Ecole de Chaillot; enthusiastic tourist.
Arch. Chavdara Nikolova, graduated ENSA-V, Vesailles; co-founder of “Re-animatori”; interested in urban problems of contemporary residential places and their development.
Arch. Nevena Valcheva, master in architecture, graduated in Sofia; co-founder of “Re-animatori”, working on contemporary challenges of civic environment.
Ivelina Ivanova – actress, working in Paris, master in linguistics and semiotics; working in FR - BG projects for collecting stories in rural regions.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel (project management, administration) - 5000 EUR
Marketing and communication - 1500 EUR
PR – popularization – 3500 EUR
Team of specialists for local activities - 11 000 EUR
Routes and mapping
Documenting cultural-historical heritage
Collecting stories of native inhabitants
Collecting useful information for tourists
Organising meetings and round tables with local representatives
Organising pedestrian tours along suggested routes
Working out a website - 3500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would be happy to work with partners from Civic Europe, both with Bulgarian teams and with foreign teams with experience in similar routes. Any recommendations, useful contacts, shared experiences and information about such initiatives in other countries are welcome.



Idea created on April 25, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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