Bulgaria's Rupite: A Trip to the Former Residence of Clairvoyant VangaLetters to the Editor |Author: Inessa Lotonina | April 24, 2015, Friday // 13:33| views
A sculpture of Baba ("Grandmother") Vanga in Rupite, an area near the towns of Blagoevgrad and Petrich in Bulgaria's south-west. Photos by Inessa Lotonina
Novinite is publishing a story by Inessa Lotonina, a senior majoring in Journalism at the American University in Bulgaria, about the complex in Rupite where the renowned blind Bulgarian mystic, clairvoyant, and herbalist resided for most of her life.
RUPITE, Bulgaria—Hot volcano springs. Bamboo. Turtles. African chickens. It is hard to comprehend how all these can be found in a small Bulgarian village.
The famous Bulgarian clairvoyant Vanga chose Rupite for accepting her visitors for a good reason. This village is believed to have a very strong positive cosmic energy, which can be found only in two other locations in the world—Argentina and Indonesia, said director of “Vanga” complex Serafim Ivanov. Rupite is a destination that attracts visitors from all over the world not only because it is connected with a famous prophetess, but also because of its unique location at the bottom of the ancient volcano Kojuh.
Rupite is situated near Petrich and it takes approximately four hours from Sofia by train to reach the destination. Recently there was a problem with the train rails between General Todorov and Petrich, so the visitors had to get off the train on the penultimate stop and walk on the rails and through the bridge for about 40 minutes to reach the final destination. This did not make German traveler Verena Uebel very happy. She found her walk over the bridge to be quite dangerous. “Where I’m from, there would be a warning sign,” Uebel said. “Maybe when the first person dies, they might put it up.”
"Vanga" complex’s location is truly unique. It is situated beneath the only volcano in Bulgaria, Kojun, which erupted in the 4th century B.C. and was inactive ever since. “The excavations revealed that on this location there was a village with a well-developed civilization, people were highly cultured,” said Ivanov. “This place used to be a crossroads of the East, the West, the North and the South in the times of Alexander the Great.”
The first thing that catches the eye of Rupite’s visitors on their way to the complex are the hot mineral springs. People from all over Bulgaria come here to improve their health by taking a bath in the therapeutic water. The access to the springs is free of charge and they are open any time of day and night. You can see multiple cars and campers of the visitors parked right on the field near the steaming springs.
It takes approximately 10 minutes to walk from the hot springs to the main gates of the complex. There are cars and tourist buses parked nearby and the parking is free of charge. The map before the gates shows visitors the main attractions of the site, both in Bulgarian and English. These attractions include St Petka church, Vanga’s grave, Vanga’s former residence, monastery, exhibition hall and a wildlife corner. Overall, it takes about 20 minutes to walk through the whole perimeter of the “Vanga” complex.
Right to the left of the main gate visitors can see the small bridge and a bamboo grove, which leads to the St. Petka church. This church is very well-known in Bulgaria. “Even Bulgarians living abroad come here to baptize their children,” said Ivanov. The church features images of the Christian saints and a photograph of Vanga, as many people believe her to be a saint as well. The visitors buy the candles at the entrance and lit them up before the icons to say their prayers. To the right-hand side of the church is Vanga’s grave. Vanga chose the site of her burial long before her death in 1996. There are violets growing on the grave and people leave fresh flowers here as well.
The next point of interest is the exhibition hall. It is packed with tourists. There are black-and-white photographs of Vanga on the walls, taken throughout the course of her life. The big plasma TV shows a documentary about Vanga’s prophesies. Even those who do not speak Bulgarian might find this exhibit to be inspiring as the images displayed on the walls are really powerful. In the souvenir shop right next door tourists can buy magnets, postcards, books about Vanga and other memorabilia.
Vanga’s former house is located on the east side of the complex. She saw about this house to be donated to the public after her death. Here Vanga used to accept visitors, make predictions about their future and answer their questions. The house has a very warm and comfortable atmosphere. There is a fireplace with a figure of silver swan on it, icons of the saints, handmade dolls and a painting of Jesus and his disciples on the wall above the white couch. It is quite interesting how the ensemble of colors and decorations of the house puts the visitors in a peaceful state of mind. Even though the place is crowded, everyone is very quiet.
Right next to the house there is a hot springs mini-pond with turtles. It takes quite a few moments to realize that the pond is not empty and there are creatures living in it. Next to the pond is the cage with some rather eccentric-looking birds, African chickens. “African chickens were Vanga’s favorite birds,” said Ivanov.
By walking from Vanga’s house in the opposite direction, tourists can find a hidden jewel of the site. In a quiet apple garden there is a stone well. Even though it is not marked as a point of interest on the map of the complex, the bucket on the bottom of the well is full of coins that visitors throw down in hope that their wish will come true. To be honest, it is not that easy to get the coin in the bucket and one has to have a good aim otherwise the coin will get drowned. There is no sign next to the well but the visitors are well-aware that only by getting the coin in the bucket their wish will be granted.
The atmosphere of the “Vanga” complex is very relaxed and inviting. The tourists can go to the local caf? that offers a variety of snacks, including ice cream, sandwiches, chips as well as hot meals. Some visitors choose to bring food with them to have a little picnic on one of the wooden benches in the shadow of the trees, near hot springs and jolly flowerbeds. Rupite is a great destination to spend some quality time with your family.
Even if you do not believe in the supernatural, it is hard to deny that there is something very special about this site. Rupite is a very peculiar and charismatic destination that is worth visiting regardless if you heard about Vanga or not. The landscape and the nature of Rupite are truly breathtaking. Where else can you watch a stork flying over the field where a shepherd herds his sheep while you are waiting for the train to take you back home?