Todorovden Traditional Horse Races Part I - Bachevo Village

in #travelfeed4 years ago

Good meetings, travellers and world observers!

I've mentioned this Bulgarian tradition once in a single photo with a short story to it but now I've decided on making a series of a few of my visits to various spots in the country where I've witnessed the horse races associated with that holiday.


is the Day of St. Todor (or Theodore somewhere in the world). And in Bulgaria we associate it with the horse breeding traditions of our people. Which have deep roots, bearing in mind that Bulgarians came to these lands from the Steppes.


Bachevo Village is a place on the footsteps of Rila Mountains

overlooking two other mountain ranges - Pirin and Rhodopes. Because of strong ties to horse breeding traditions, people in Bachevo consider St. Todor their patron and celebrate the day giving it their all. It becomes a local festival, attracting visitors from other parts of the country.

I dedicated three visits

altogether to photographing the celebrations and the races. Why? Because the first time in 2011 had been magical to me.

With its chaotic simplicity or its simple chaos. The atmosphere of the fair - the noise, the smell of grilled meat, onions and breath, of sugar crated temptations for the kids, of smoke. But most of all - the spring sunrays coming before spring, actually, but after a very cold and nasty winter in which I had been sick for weeks.

Before we get to that hill

there's a trip by train from Sofia. A sleep in Blagoevgrad - a town on Struma river on the other side of the Rila and Pirin Mountains, meaning west side. Alright, I made it this way since I have friends there and preferred staying somewhere familiar for the night. Then catching a bus through Predela Mountain Pass before sunrise to get to Razlog - a town in the valley between the three mountains.

Some crazy people would walk the rest of the distance to the village on foot. All calculated perfectly.

The Festivities

would begin in the center of the village at a square near the Hall.






The elderly women would bake ritual breads and symbolically paint paint the foreheads of boys with red eggs. The holiday is connected to Easter, preceding it six weekends earlier on a Saturday. Young brides would then bow to old women as a sign of respect of their wisdom.


Music will play, people will dance...



Children will ravage sugar


And folks would take their horses for a walk...







... in their traditional rider's capes... or canes.


Trust me if you want to, I think I can smell the horses right now! Photos unlocking nostril memory or something.

And finally there are those sports people

Who came for the races.




But to stay fare, the organizers put on a few different categories - sport horses, traditional horses and children. Yup, they are there and riding, too.








And I have not fully covered everything thus far. Always started on my way back before disciplines I considered more boring began. Well, those are pre-blogger era reflexes of a person without personal transport. Maybe that would change next time.

This year Todorovden will be on the 19th of March.

Ah, the sunny slopes...


See you there, maybe... Before that, I intend to come back to the subject but change the location once or twice.

Thanks for reading!

Take care! The winter up north is nasty this year, too. Maybe a spring fair will be quite... fair to us.



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This is very good post with wonderful photos! These make me want to go there and speak the language!

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'Дииий!' is what you say to the horse when you want it to move faster ;)

Thank you for coming, that was Lesson One.

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I could smell horse as well :) Beautiful shots!

Right? I'm not all the time around one but some people are. I wonder how they sense it.

Thanks you!

Howdy sir manoldonchev! this is such a wonderful post! I love the great shots you got, you have an eye for good photos. Do the people dress like that for everyday life or are those traditional clothes for this race day? I'm recharging my voting power for a couple of days but I'll be back to vote. I'm resteeming too.

Thank you, sir janton!

I think literally nobody dresses like that for normal life. Maybe there's some exception somewhere but those are clothes only performers use now and some people at holidays - for show. They're a kind of a cultural heritage.

ok very good sir. You are going to do another post about those races? Is that an isolated village up in the mountains?

Yes, I am going to - about other places. This one, Bachevo, is in the feet of Rila Mountains, a good road leads to it from a town at 6 kilometers or about 4 miles this side of a mountain pass. So not too isolated, but no train or intercity buss going there. Local bus lines do work, though. Riding and other kinds of tourism bring people there. It's also not very far from ski resorts. About 16 kilometers or 10 miles.

Howdy again sir manoldonchev! thanks so much for the explanation, the town and the whole country is very unsual and interesting to me, I know nothing about Bulgaria but would love to visit someday!

You're welcome, I can find you a horse, too, if you want one.

haha! that would be great, thank you sir manoldonchev!

Great photos! Especially the horses- your action shots show much talent!

Thanks a lot! You know what makes me go to some place again and again? Not being completely happy with results. So if I like the topic, I try again.

Dear @manoldonchev,

Thank you for the submission for our project – 1001 Places to Remember. Hooray, your story is now listed in our project publication, you can check through our progressive report either from our @fundition project page or @archisteem account. We will be sorting out the seasonal shortlist authors and make an announcement soon for the seasonal reward.

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Thank you, @archisteem and team! See you around!

See you around @manoldonchev and let's get the project complete together.

How interesting your photographic work on these popular holidays in Bulgaria, @manoldonchev! I come from a continent (America) and a country (Venezuela) completely far from the location of that striking nation. I know almost nothing about Bulgaria, except having read some writers from there, such as Julia Kristeva and Tzvetan Todorov. Your photos allow me to delight visually in very attractive scenes, such as the traditional costumes and the dance and sports activities, as well as those expressive faces. Thank you for your post. Watch out for other pictures of you.

Thank you, too, I'm glad my work has that effect!

Great post @manoldonchev

It looks like a really nice occasion with strong traditions that I'm starting to expect in this part of the world. I am getting familiar with some of the Romanian customs and traditions too.

The pictures are really good. The backdrop to the racing shots are breathtaking.


Thank you! That backdrop is also part of the reason why I spent 3 times the holiday there. And more may follow.

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Such a fine tradition!
Thanks for showing us this wonderful place!

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What a lovely looking country. I knew nothing of Bulgaria, but I'm glad that as of now, I know a little. I must ask, is it likely that the toffee apples on the table are home-made. They look very tempting - I can understand how the kids get into them!

Yup, probably garage made. Although they are classics and I did cry the world about one when I was a kid. They warned me it was bad experience trying to eat it. Not tasty, hard, dangerous, everything true. It just... looks nice. It does. Freakin' marketing.

What a shame - they do look so tempting.

You got some really lovely shots of the clothing and ceremonies! I enjoyed reading about Todorovden and examining your shots! Thanks for sharing this! Reading about other cultures is so fascinating! 😊

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