Dobrich (Bulgarian: Добрич, also romanized as Dobritch) is a city in the north-eastern corner of Bulgaria, and the heart of the Bulgarian part of the fertile Dobrudzha, "the granary of Bulgaria". With a population of just under 72,000 (2021), Dobrich is the 9th largest city in the country. It's the administrative centre of Dobrich Province, which extends to the small stretch of land border between Bulgaria and Romania to the north and to the Black Sea to the east, including coastal Balchik, Kavarna and Shabla.
During the Ottoman reign, it was known under the Turkish name Hacıoğlu Pazarcık ("Hajiolu's small market", romanized as Hajiolu-Pazarjik in the 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica). After the Liberation, in 1880 the citizens decided to rename it Dobrich, after the Bulgarian feudal lord (despot) Dobrotitsa who ruled these lands in the Middle Ages and left his name on the whole Dobrudzha region. Together with the rest of Southern Dobrudzha, the city was annexed by Romania after the Second Balkan War (1913) and renamed to Bazargic (pronounced with a soft g). The region was returned to Bulgaria almost 30 years later, with the signing of the Treaty of Craiova in September 1940. Dobrich regained its name, but not for long.
In 1949, the communist regime renamed the city once again, to Tolbuhin, in honour of Soviet marshal Fyodor Tolbukhin (1894-1949), who had lead the Soviet thrust towards the Balkans during World War II, the subsequent occupation of Bulgaria, and the combined Soviet-Bulgrian forces that fought the Axis in Yugoslavia and Hungary. The name Dobrich was restored only after the fall of the regime, in 1990. You can still see an echo of the past in vehicle registration plates: in Bulgaria, they contain a letter prefix showing the region of registration. To comply with EU regulations, only those Cyrillic letters that look the same as Latin letters can be used. Some cities had to change, but Dobrich retained its ТХ prefix from Communist times — while in English it's read as "tee eks", in Bulgarian it's the "te ha" of Tolbuhin (Толбухин).
The Dobrich Epic (Battle of Bazargic) edit
During the First World War, Bulgaria joined the side of the Central Powers. In 1916, a combined force of Bulgarian, German and Ottoman troops invaded Dobrudzha, facing another multinational force of Romanian, Russian, and Serbian troops. In Bulgarian historiography, the hotly contested battle for Bazargic (Dobrich) in September 1916 is sometimes called "the Dobrich Epic" (Dobrichkata epopeya, "the épopée of Dobrich"). The city was taken and the Bulgarian troops advanced well into Romania. Nevertheless, the Central Powers lost the war and Dobrich would remain Romanian until 1940. A military cemetery with dead from both sides of the battle is still maintained in the city.
Yordan Yovkov edit
Yordan Yovkov (1880 – 1937) is a celebrated Bulgarian author, famous for his short stories, some of which are still required reading in Bulgarian schools. He was born in the Balkan Mountains (in Zheravna, near Kotel), but he spend some of his life in Dobrudzha and a number of his works are set there. That's why there's a museum dedicated to him. His short story "Albena" is credited with introducing that name to the Bulgarian language. In addition to many Bulgarian women through the years, the name is also used by the Albena resort on the Black Sea, 30 km (19 mi) south-east of Dobrich.
Get in edit
By train edit
Dobrich is on a secondary railway line than connects to the main Sofia-Varna line very close to Varna, between Beloslav and Provadia (Devnya is on the same line). As a result, there are several daily direct trains from Varna (about 2 hr to Dobrich), but any other connection usually requires getting to Varna first. A consolation is that about half the trains that serve the Varna-Dobrich line are modern Siemens Desiro units instead of Communist-era relics.
- 1 Central Train Station (20 min walk from the main square, along Nezavisimost Str).
By bus edit
Buses are a more versatile option, with local or national lines either starting at or passing through all nearby large cities - Varna, Shumen, Silistra, Ruse. Union-Ivkoni/Group Plus offers several buses daily from Sofia (tickets available online; passing through Veliko Tarnovo, Shumen and Varna), though the distance involved means that the buses either depart very early, or arrive quite late.
- 2 Bus Station (Автогара, Avtogara) (10 min walk east of Vazrazhdane Sqr (south end of the central square), along Polkovnik Draganov Str and Knyaz Dondukov Str). Amusingly, most of the station's facilities are in the small annex in front of the larger Communist-era building, which the station shares with a number of commercial entities. The station's "bus" side is on one of the largest transit roads in Dobrich (Rusia Blvd); the "back" (western) side is in a somewhat run-down area, but both narrow streets leading west will take you to the central pedestrian area.
By car edit
Dobrich is at the crossroads of three second-tier national roads and has a well-formed ring road. This means that it can be approached from six directions.
Road 29 from the north-east (Romania: Agigea/Constanța): it starts at the Negru Vodă/Kardam border crossing and merges into Dobrich's ring road (Road 97) at a large roundabout - take the south exit, and then at the next roundabout you can get off on the large 25-ti Septemvri Blvd.
Road 29 from the south (Varna): It splits off Road 2 in the western outskirts of Vrana, at a roundabout shortly after Road 2 in turn splits off Motorway A2/E80 at the end of Vladislav Varnenchik Blvd. On entering Dobrich, Road 29 simply turns into the same 25-ti Septemvri Blvd.
Road 71 from the north-west (Silistra and Călărași (Romania) on the Danube): after crossing the ring road, it turns into Dobrudzha Blvd, which crosses Dobrich's central parts before emerging on the other side of the city as... Road 27 to Balchik (see below).
Road 71 from the south-east (Kranevo, Albena resort, Balchik): it starts at Road 9 (E87), which runs north-south along the Black Sea coast, close to the Albena resort between Kranevo and Balchik. It's notable for passing through the green valley of the Batovska River, one of the few places in Bulgaria where you can see wood-covered slopes below a plain covered with wheat fields, instead of the other way round. On crossing Dobrich's ring road, Road 71 turns into a street that merges into 25-ti Septemvri Blvd.
Road 27 from the south-west (Shumen, Razgrad, Targovishte): it splits off Road 2 at Novi Pazar, 25 km (16 mi) east of Shumen (also close to the junction with Motorway A2/E80 at Kaspichan). After crossing Dobrich's ring road, it turns into 3-ti Mart Blvd and ends at 25-ti Septemvri Blvd exactly at the southern end of the pedestrian zone.
Road 27 from the south-east (Black Sea coast again): it starts at Balchik itself (again Road 9/E87), north of Albena. After crossing Dobrich's ring road, it turns into Dobrudzha Blvd.
Get around edit
- Ethnographic Complex Old Dobrich - incl. old clock tower, history museum, craftsmen workshops, etc.
- 2 Monument to Asparuh. A Communism-era monument to the founding ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire. A large statue of Asparuh on his horse, and smaller statues and bas-reliefs of medieval warriors. Like many similar monuments around the country (e.g. in Shumen), it was built for the 1300-year anniversary of the FBE's founding in 1981.
- Military Cemetery - visits only by arrangement; if you are not a part of an organised tour, ask at the history museum or contact them in advance.
- Yordan Yovkov museum
- Dobrich Zoo
- St. George Park
- Horse riding?
Go next edit
- East and south-east (Black Sea): Balchik, Cape Kavarna, Albena resort, Varna
- North-east (Romania): you can go directly through the Kardam/Negru Vodă border crossing towards Constanța, or go to Balchik and move north along the coast via Kavarna and Shabla to the Durankulak/Vama Veche crossing to Mangalia
- North-west (the Danube): Silistra, Tutrakan, Ruse
- West and south-west (the rest of Northern Bulgaria, the Balkan Mountains): Shumen, then Targovishte or Southern Bulgaria through the Rish or Kotel passes (Yambol, Burgas).