National Geographic Traveller (UK)



Look out for the last of the city’s klek (‘squat’) shops. At these quirky convenienc­e stores, set up in residentia­l basements, vendors’ heads poke out just above street level. They’re a disappeari­ng relic from the days following the fall of communism, when everyone was out to make a quick buck.

Due to its cultural significan­ce, the oldest building in the city, the fourth-century Church of St George, was concealed behind a block of high-rise buildings during communist rule. To find it, walk under the arches opposite the Bulgarian Archaeolog­ical Museum.

If Bulgarian rakia is a little harsh for your tastes, another unorthodox Balkan beverage to sample is pelin: wine, fermented with herbs typically found in absinthe. The restaurant Hadjidraga­novite Kashti serves a homemade version.

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