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Bulgarian Essay on Usual Environments and / or Common Objects


The myth was created as a way of understanding and explaining the world around us, nature and where our place in that world is. It explains the cosmic and natural world based on the given nation and region.

The idea behind this understanding is the harmonization with the natural and cosmic world. In other words the myth explains man and his role in the cosmos and in his world.

In our history the mountains have played an important role.  They have safeguarded us against enemies and natural disasters.  And of course this has played a huge part in how that is interpreted in our stories.

In most cases they are animated, usually it will be a beautiful maiden cursed or trapped in this form in order to be protected or hidden by greed. They are given human characteristics and even the forms of the mountain are made human like. We have this case in the story of Rhodopa.

These places are seen are sacred and also have protected sacred people like the story of st.Petka.  The mountains are a place of refuge from persecution may it be by gods or other people.  Also there is said to be the resting place for most if not all mythological creatures of Bulgaria.

Caves and bridges are also common symbols.  They are seen as passageways into different worlds and even dimensions. Here it is interesting that there is a intertwining of real places and myth. These places have to be visited as when you go there you do question whether it is myth or maybe there is a gain of truth. No wonder that there were stories about these places and this begs the question did the place inspire the myth or the myth gave birth to the place.

As we look at the Devil's bridge story. If we look at it from the basic good versus evil and the impossible task; we see this is a common thread in most devil/man stories.  But we also have the typical three brothers’ act and the strife between man, relatives and love.  This is very typical of the Bulgarian story and the sacrifices that usually have to be made by one.

The places common in the stories are places of refuge and protection, very reflective of the times and the history.  That’s why we have so many song deducted to the mountains as we honour and cherish them.  They have a very special place in the Slavic soul and memory.

Mountains, bridges and caves - all symbolic of the fight for life and the creation myth; the rite of passage so to say for a rich culture as ours.

The environment in which the events happen in this legend includes river and nearby village. The main object of work in the legend is stone from which a stable and strong bridge must be built in order for people to cross the river safely. The legend includes the main motives of overcoming challenges and fight with evil in the representaion of the Devil. Usually these motives happen in an unfriendly environment in which the characters must show their skills and wit to be successful and for the good to prevail. Very often in Bulgarian legends rivers are seen as "crazy" - sweeping everything in their path. Building a bridge in the distrubed waters is a task that requires good craftsmanship, which the 3 brothers in the legend have, but despite that they cannot overcome the power of the river and the obstacles the Devil put infront of them. Only when they receive the advice of an old man (combination of both skills and knowledge) they manage to outsmart the Devil and build the bridge in such way that the river cannot demolish it.

In terms of environment the legend is very similar to the Lithuanian legend of Punutkas stone and the Polish legends Bies and Czady (Bies and San) and the Legend of Warsaw Mermaid.

The environments in the Belogradchik rocks legends is connected with the natural rock formations in the area of belogradchik in Bulgaria. The legend tries to find a way to explain the form and look of the strange rocks by connecting it with events in human life. Many Bulgarian legends are connected with rocks and rock formations, it sometimes may even seem that Bulgarian legends are all about stones and rocks, but this is natural since the environment and terrain in Bulgaria is mostly mountains. This Bulgarian legend is connected with many European legends:

  • The Romanian legends about the Dragon’s Garden and the Lady’s Rocks’ (explaining rock formations);
  • The Italian legends about Saint Galgano and the Sword in the Rock  and Bell’ Alda (in which the events take place around a monastery as in the Belogradchik rocks legend);
  • The Lithuanian legend about Vilnius city foundation (mountain);

  • The Polish legend about Mount Sleza (mountain).

The legend of Belintash happens in the Rhodopi mountains in Bulgaria. Again as in many other Bulgarian legends it is connected with rocks - events happening on the rocky hill of Belintash. The hight of the hill predisposes the events described in the legend - the meeting between the Earth and Heaven, Human and Divine, Life and Death. The legends about Belintash are also connected with the strange physics phenomenon about the strange magnetic field, that can be measured there.

This legends is similar to the Romanian legends about  The dragon’s garden, The Lady’s Rocks’, Dracula - Vlad Tepes (magnetic fields in particularly seen in it)

Also similar to the Lithuanian, Polish and Italian legends where the events happen in a mountain:  Legend about Vilnius city foundation, legend about Mount Sleza and Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss.

Mountains and again mountains - Rhodopa legend is about the formation of one of the most beautiful mountains in the country. The mountain has curvy shapes, soft landscape and mild climate - no wonder people likened her to a woman. Often in Bulgarian legends it is written about the extraordinary beauty of women, who men would want only for themselves and how this would drive them mad of jealousy. The legend of Rhodopa goes even further telling that the young lady Rhodopa was so beautiful that God Hemus fell inlove with her and turned her into a mountain not to let any earthly man to have her as a wife. In Bulgarian legends the mountains are usually women (mothers). The legend of Rhodopa is connected with the European legends about  Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss, Mount Sleza, Legend about Vilnius city foundation.

The legend of St. Petka is another legend that happens in the mountains. It tells us about a young lady who managed to escape from her chasers through a passage in a stone cave in the mountain due to her believe in God. It is another representaion how the mountain was a place to find salvation (as for example in one of the versions of the Rhodopa mountain, in which it saved Orpheus from the evil snake). Mountains are respected places in Bulgaria and people never go unprepared in the mountains since it is considered they can change their "mood" (weather) unexpectedly and a person must be ready to face that.

The legend of St. Petka is similar to all European legends where mountains are the main environment, but also to the legends where bread is a common object used from the main characters.

The legend of the Devil's throat happens in a cave, which Bulgarians consider to be the gateway to Hell. With this regard it is very similar to the Polish legend of Mount Sleza, where people covered the gateway to Hell so that the devils cannot come out. The legend of the Devil's throat is also about love, which goes through challenges (going to the underwolrd) in order to be recovered. The cave as an environment can be seen also in other European legends as The Bride's cave (Romania).

The legend of the Pirin's dragon is one that happens in the only mountain in Bulgaria that is considered to be masculine - the Pirin mountain. It is harsh mountain with many rocks and unfriendly climate. The legend tells about one dragon that wants the most beautiful women of a nearby village in order not to destroy it. The dragon lives in a cave in the mountain. The village in the mountain still exists and the legend is quite important for the local people, who tend not to go to the mountain in the dark.

As other Bulgarian legends happening in the mountain it is connected with tragic events, but the main character manages to kill the evil dragon and save the village at the end. This legend is similar to the legends of Mount Sleza, Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss, The bride’s cave.