A Trip to Vanga’s Former Residence
Hot volcano springs. Bamboo. Turtles. African chickens. It is hard to comprehend how all of 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, according to the director of “Vanga” complex, Serafim Ivanov. Rupite is a destination that attracts visitors from all over the world not only because it is connected to 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 by train from Sofia 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
“Vanga” complex’s location is truly unique. It is situated beneath the only volcano in Bulgaria, Kojuh, which erupted in the fourth century B.C. and has been 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 eyes of Rupite’s visitors on their way to the complex are the hot volcano 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 always open, day and night. You can see multiple cars and campers 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 the main attractions, both in Bulgarian and English.
Among them are the St. Petka church, Vanga’s grave, Vanga’s former residence, a monastery, an 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 a small bridge and a bamboo grove, which lead to the St. Petka church. This church is very well-known in Bulgaria.
“Even Bulgarians living abroad come here to baptize their children,” Ivanov said.
The church features images of Christian saints and a photograph of Vanga, as many people believe her to be a saint as well. The visitors buy candles at the entrance and light them up in front of 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 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. A 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 silver swan figure on it, icons of the saints, handmade dolls, and a painting of Jesus and his disciples on the wall above a 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 spring mini-pond with turtles. It takes quite a few moments to realize that the pond is not empty and there are creatures living inside. Next to the pond is a cage with some rather eccentric-looking birds, African chickens.
“African chickens were Vanga’s favorite birds,” Ivanov said.
By walking from Vanga’s house in the opposite direction, tourists can find the 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 lost in the water. 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 café that offers a variety of snacks, including ice-cream, sandwiches, chips, as well as hot meals. Some visitors choose to bring food with them and have a little picnic on one of the wooden benches in the shadow of the trees, near the 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 have heard about Vanga or not. The landscape and the nature of the place 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?
Tips if you go there:
Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m.— 7:00 p.m. during spring and summer, 8 a.m.— 5 p.m. during fall and winter
Price: free of charge, donations are welcome
Train tickets: Sofia-Rupite standard price ticket 10.40 lv, discounted ticket (students, appropriate documentation is required) 5.20 lv
This story was written by Inessa Lotonina. Inessa is a fourth-year student from Russia. She is majoring in journalism and business administration. This article is her final story for the JMC 297 Travel Writing course taught by prof. Dan Fellner. A version of this story originally appeared in Novinite.com.