Balchik Palace- The Astonishing Royal Villa by the Sea in Bulgaria

One of my favorite places on the Bulgarian coast is the small town of Balchik. However touristy it may have become, it still has its identity and the flavor of a royal residence. A half-day in Balchik could be enough to explore Queen Marie’s Palace and gardens. However, you can easily spend a long weekend here without getting bored.

Royal villa in Balchik, the Queen's Quiet Nest
The Queen called the villa “The Quiet Nest”

Where is Balchik?

Balchik is a port-town on the northern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It’s an hour’s drive south from the Romanian border at Vama Veche (65km). The closest airport is in Varna, about 50km away. It is also very close to some of the large resorts of the Bulgarian seaside. All in all, Balchik is a popular day-trip destination.

A bit of history

The story of Balchik as a tourist destination starts with Queen Marie of Romania. In 1913, after the Second Balkan War, Romania gained this part of the Bulgarian territory, including the small port of Balchik. Some years later, in 1921 the Queen of Romania visited the area and she fell in love with the area. Having the soul of an artist, she couldn’t resist the white cliffs descending into the blue sea, the light, and the pleasant weather. She imagined a “Quiet Nest”, where to escape from the duties of royalty.

Balchik only remained under Romanian administration until 1940, but Queen Marie lived her final years here.

The Nymphaeum, an open air pavillion with a water pool at the center was one Queen Marie’s favorite places

The Palace and Botanical Gardens of Balchik

Balchik Palace

Marie Alexandra Victoria, Princess of Edinburgh married the Romanian heir to the throne, Ferdinand, when she was 17. By the time she started building her summer retreat in Balchik in 1924, she was a mature, well-traveled, and politically seasoned woman. She had hired two Italian architects to build the complex where she planned to spend much of her time. They imagined a place that incorporated a lot of Queen Marie’s travel memories, personal beliefs, and artistic views. They also respected the environment, adding buildings and elements to complement the terrain, rather than choosing to modify the grounds.

The Quiet Nest

The “palace” is a beautiful yet simple villa by the sea. It has Italian features, but also Arabic and Bulgarian influences. Perhaps the most surprising element is the tower that looks like a mosque’s minaret. Inside the villa, the bedroom, bathroom, and the living room remained exactly as they were used by Queen Marie.

The same mix of elements goes on throughout the complex. The Queen believed that all religions have the same core and the same unique God. The residence reflects a lot of her thoughts and personality. There is an Orthodox Chapel, a Nymphaeum, and different buildings that now serve as art galleries. Inside the Queen’s winery, you can taste and buy some good local wines here. Everywhere you go, you will discover something interesting: the silver well, the stone throne, stone bridges, and statues.

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