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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Royal Bistritsa

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Tsarska Bistrica is a palace of the rulers of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom (1878 - 1947).

The Royal Bistritsa palace
The Royal Bistritsa palace

It is located above the Borovets resort in beautiful Rila.

How to get to the Royal Bistritsa palace?

Tsarska Bistrica was built in the period from 1898 to 1914. It served as a hunting lodge for the kings Ferdinand I and Boris III.

The architectural appearance is influenced by the traditional Bulgarian Revival style, but along with that European architectural influences can be seen in it.

Tsarska Bistrica is an important part of the history of the last Bulgarian royal dynasty.

Here, on August 28, 1943, Queen Joanna was informed that her husband, Tsar Boris III, was ill with a mysterious illness.

Also here, 6-year-old Simeon and 9-year-old Maria-Louisa saw their father alive for the last time.

The Royal Bistritsa palace
The Royal Bistritsa palace

In 1898, the first wing of the palace, known as the "Old Palace", was built, consisting of several rooms, a study and bedrooms. Later, two more wings were built with a spacious living room, a dining room and a second floor with bedrooms, boudoirs and another office. Thus, upon its completion in 1914, a whole complex of palace buildings and a beautiful park was formed, through which the Bistrica Musalenska river passes.

The waterfall of the park of the Royal Bistritsa palace
The waterfall of the park of the Royal Bistritsa palace

The first room of the "Old Palace" is furnished like a ship's cabin. In 1902, Ferdinand traveled to Brazil on the ship New America. According to one of the versions, the captain Jean-Louis Maurice, with whom they were old friends, presented the ship's furniture to the king.

In the hunting part of Tsarska Bistrica, a huge collection of hunting trophies, collected over half a century, is stored. Most of the animals were shot by Tsar Boris III, but there are also trophies of Prince Cyril and Princess Nadezhda, who liked to hunt with the men.

The authentic atmosphere of the hunting cabin was captured during the filming of the movie "Tsar and General".

The small vestibule, which separates the old part from the palace, is decorated with a Persian carpet, a gift from the Shah of Iran to Ferdinand's second wife, Eleonora von Reuss-Koestritz.

On a low table is a huge engraved cartridge case – a symbol of the last projectile fired in the Balkan War.

All the rooms of the palace are equipped with beautiful tiled stoves, decorated with intricate floral ornaments and specially supplied from Austria. Although they are over fifty in number, no two are alike in shape and color. The most beautiful of them are placed in the bedrooms of princesses Evdokia and Nadezhda. In these rooms, the old silk and cotton wallpapers are also preserved, which are not glued, but only stretched on the walls.

In the dining room of the palace is placed a huge portrait of Hristo Markov, Ferdinand's personal hunter, who died of his wounds after being mauled by a bear.

The spacious drawing room of the palace is decorated with a carved wooden ceiling, the ornaments of which were made by master woodcarvers from Tryavna, Samokov and Koprivshtitsa.

The fireplace in the drawing room is decorated with marble slabs presented to the king by the mayor of Samokov. They were part of the authentic decoration of the famous Samokov fountain, built in the 17th century.

On top of the piano in one of the niches stands a large Jewish candlestick for seven candles - the so-called menorah, presented to Boris by the Jewish community in Bulgaria.

The power plant of the Royal Bistritsa palace
The power plant

An interesting fact is that the palace has its own electricity supply, which is provided by a small Siemens hydroelectric plant installed in 1912.

Working Siemens AG 170 kW generator installed in 1912
Working Siemens AG 170 kW generator installed in 1912

The hunting lodges "Sitnyakovo" (a spacious wooden building at an altitude of 1740 meters) and Sarugyol are also connected to the "Tsarska Bistritsa" palace.

The park, forest and green meadows around are extremely beautiful for a walk. Everywhere is calm and very pleasant. The river is raging and brings coolness.

On October 12, 2020, the Supreme Court of Cassation finally decided the ownership case and returned the palace to Simeon of Saxe-Coburg and Maria-Louise Hrobok.

I wish you a charming walk!

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