-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

In May 2016
when I went through Bulgaria
from Varna
passing on the Asparuhov Bridge -
the Slavic variant of the name of the founder
of the first Bulgarian Empire in the 7th century -
over the Varna Lake,
I caught the still high Sun)

to Schumen
(which I caught from the distance
under the colors of the dusk)

I had two revelations:

1. I went through a zone
with some of the most impressive old European documents.

Thus, the Varna Culture from the 5th millennium BCE
has left the oldest large collection of gold works in the world,
while in Schumen,
the first fortress was made in the 2nd millennium BCE.

Since the first known inhabitants on the Bulgarian territory
were the Thracians (long before the Roman conquest and the Slavic invasion),
and I am theoretically a descendant of the Geto-Dacians
(the northern branch of the Thracians),
that road made me emotional on this theme.

2. I also went through the last segment of the last Crusade (Varna, 1444),
led by the Polish King Wladislaw III,
which included an European army consisting of
Polacks, Hungarians, Croatians, Lithuanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Italians, Germans
and a few thousand Wallachs led by Mircea II
(the grandson of Mircea the Eldest,
the Wallachian ruler who had saved Europe in 1394 and 1397,
stopping the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid Yildirim in the north of Danube).

Thus, at that time the crusaders conquered Schumen,
the last big fortress before the final confrontation,
but near Varna their army was crushed by
the (double) army of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II,
too few Europeans returning home on the same road after the battle…

So that the Bulgarian territory remained under Ottoman domination
for the next 434 years…

But the Bulgarians always fought on various ways for their independence,
which they obtained with Russian and Romanian help in 1878,
then they lived
a period of freedom (1878-1945) troubled by a few wars,
hard communist times (1946-1989)
and a period of transition (1990-2006)…

Thinking of these things,
I felt the scenery opening a celestial scope from which,
through the window of the bus,
I received a delighting show.

Then the bus stopped for short
right during the sunset,
and I thought that
the new European “crusaders” obtained the final victory in 2007,
peacefully including Bulgaria in the European Union.

Almost 6 centuries after the Varna Crusade
Today Bulgaria is completely free
For European circulation
And… solar astronomy!

© 2016 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)