Tsarska Bistritsa

 

“Tsarska Bistritsa” is a former palace of the rulers of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. It is situated close to Borovets in the Rila Mountains. It has been built between 1898 and 1914. It has served the function of a hunting lodge for the kings Ferdinads I and Boris III. The architectural appearance is influenced by the traditional Bulgarian Renaissance style, however alongside it there are visible European architectural influences as well.

Tsarska Bistritsa is an important part of the history of the last Bulgarian royal dynasty. Here, on the 28th of August 1943, Queen Giovanna receives the information that her husband, Boris III, is suffering from a mysterious illness. It was here that six-year-old Simeon and nine-year-old Marie-Louise see their father for the last time.

 

The palace’s first wing, known as “The Old palace” was built in 1898. It consists of several rooms, an office and bedrooms. Afterwards two other wings were built with a spacious living room, a dining room and second flour with bedrooms, dressing rooms and an office. At its completion in 1914 there was a whole complex of royal buildings and a beautiful park that goes through the Bistritsa Musalenska River.

 

The first room of “The Old palace” was furnished with a ship cabins. In 1902 Ferdinand traveled to Brazil on the ship “New America”. According to one version, the captain, Jan-Louise Morris, who was a close old friend, gave the king the ships furnishings as a gift.

 

The hunting lodge of Tsarska Bistritsa holds a large collection of hunting trophies, gathered in the course of half a century. Most of the animals are hunted by Boris III, but there are some trophies from prince Kyril and princess Nadezhda, who loved to go hunting with the rest of the men. The feet of a chamois are used to support a table lamp in the office on the first floor. The authentic atmosphere of the hunting cabinet was sealed during the shooting of the movie “King and general”.

 

The small vestibule that separates the old part from the palace is decorated with a Persian carpet, a gift from the Shah of Iran to the second wife of Ferdinand – Eleanor von Royce Kyostrits. A huge engraved shell is set on a low table as a symbol of the last shell fired during the Balkan war. All rooms of the palace are equipped with beautiful tile stoves decorated with elaborate flower decorations and specially delivered from Austria. Although they are 50 in number, no two are of the same shape and color. The prettiest ones are placed within the bedroom chambers of princess Eudoxia and princess Nadezhda. These chambers have also been preserved with the old wallpapers of silk and cotton, which were not glued to the walls, but rather simlpy stretched on them. There is a large portrait in the dining room of Ferdinand’s personal hunter- Hristo Markov, who died from his wounds after being wounded by a bear. The spacious living room is decorated with acarved wooden ceiling,the ornaments of which are made by master carpenters from Tryavna, Samokov and Koprivshtitsa. The fireplace in the living room is decorated with marble tiles- a gift from the mayor of Samokov the king. They were part of the authentic decoration of the famous Samokov fountain, built in the XVII century. On the piano, in one of the niches, stands a large Jewish candlestick, big enough for seven candles- the so-called menorah, bestowed to Boris by the Bulgarian Jewish community. The palace has its own power supply, which is provided by a small hydroelectric plant "Siemens", installed in 1912, which still operates today and the company wants to buy back as museum piece.

 

After 1945 the “Tsarska Bistritsa” palace was nationalized by the new regime in Bulgaria.

 

After the democratic changes in 1989, “Tsarska Bistritsa” was restituted by Boris III’s son, Simeon II, during his tenure as Prime Minister of Bulgaria.

 

Today, the palace is open to all visitors.

 

The palace is open from Thursday to Sunday, between 9:00 am and 17:00 pm.

 

The visitor’s tour starts from “The Old palace”. The first room is furnished like a ship’s cabins. In 1902 Ferdinand traveled to Brazil on the ship “New America”. According to one version, the captain, Jan-Louise Morris, who was a close old friend, gave the king the ships furnishings as a gift. According to another, however, the Frenchman simply lost a game of cards against Ferdinand.

 

On the walls of the hunting area of the palace there are hundreds of hunting trophies set up- mostly from: heads of wild boars, deer, wild cocks, antlers, great bustard, bear head. Most of the animals are hunted by Boris III, but there are some trophies from prince Kyril and princess Nadezhda, who loved to go hunting with the rest of the men. The feet of a chamois are used to support a table lamp in the office on the first floor.

 

The small vestibule that separates the old part from the palace is decorated with a Persian carpet, a gift from the Shah of Iran to the second wife of Ferdinand – Eleanor. A huge engraved shell is set on a low table as a symbol of the last shell fired during the Balkan war. The old wallpapers of silk and cotton have also been preserved. They were not glued to the walls, but rather simply stretched on them.

 

An interesting piece in the dining room is the large portrait of Ferdinand’s personal hunter Hristo Markov, with a killed dear over his shoulder. He was attacked by a bear and died from his wounds. Master carpenters from Tryavna, Samokov and Koprivshtitsa have worked on the rich ornaments on the living room’s wooden ceiling. The fireplace was decorated with marble tiles, bestowed to the king by the mayor of Samokov. They were part of the authentic decoration of the famous Samokov fountain, built in the XVII century.

 

There is also a chapel is “Tsarska Bistritsa”, built for the wedding of princess Kalina, held in the palace.