Famous Bulgarians – Top Ten

by | August 6, 2019 |

This past week I hung out in Balchik, Bulgaria. Thus I had the opportunity to speak with the locals about famous Bulgarians. Once again, I had lots of fun with my project. People the world over like to name who among them deserve a claim to fame.

Famous Bulgarians Historical: Inventors

Saints Cyril and Methodius

It’s my list, so I get to go linguistic. At the top I put the two people credited with inventing the Cyrillic alphabet. As such, they merit the title image.

Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers who lived in the 9th century. They were Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries. Although they came from Greece, their work involved the language known as Old Bulgarian. So I count them as Bulgarian. (Hey, it’s my list.)

In the title image the two theologians are holding examples of their work. Many Slavic, and some non-Slavic languages, use the Cyrillic alphabet.

John Vincent Atanasoff

John Atanasoff (1903-1995) gets credit for inventing the first electronic digital computer. His father, Ivan Atanasoff, was Bulgarian.

In 1970 Atanasoff received his first national award for scientific achievement. What could make me happier? He won The Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius, First Class, Bulgaria’s highest scientific honor.

Famous Bulgarians Historical: Architect

Nikola Fichev

Nikola Fichev (1800-1881) was an architect, builder and sculptor. He is known as Kolyu Fichelo. Among his achievements is the Byala Bridge over the Yantra River.

This is an excellent example of Bulgarian National Revival architecture

Get this: Ficheto Point in Antarctica is named after Kolyu Ficheto. The things you find out while investigating famous people ….

Famous Bulgarians Historical: Poet

Nikola Jonkov Vaptsorov

Nikola Jonkov Vaptsorov (1909-1942) was a poet, communist and revolutionary. He worked as a machinist for most of life. Although he produced only one book of poetry, Motoring Verses (1940), he still counts as one of Bulgaria’s most important poets.

famous Bulgarians

Because of underground activities, he died by firing squad.

Famous Bulgarians Historical: Nobel Prize

Elias Canetti 

Elias Canetti (1905-1994), born in Ruse, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981.

He was a German-language writer. When he was young, his family moved first to Manchester, England then to Vienna Austria. After the Nazi Anschluss in 1938 he moved back to England. He became a British citizen in 1952.

Famous Bulgarians

Famous Bulgarians Historical: Politician

Todor Zhivkov

Todor Zhivkov (1911-1998) was the communist leader of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria from 1954-1989.

The People’s Republic of Bulgaria ceased to exist in 1990. It became Republic of Bulgaria.

Famous Bulgarians Contemporary: Sports

I was staying at the Regina Maria Hotel. I told Alexandyr, the young man at Reception I was composing a list of famous Bulgarians. Then I asked the question: “Who is the first name to come to mind?”

Immediately he replied, “Dimitar Berbatov.”

This response got ready confirmation from the other young man standing next to him.

Dimitar Berbatov

The speed of the reply suggested Berbatov might be a soccer player.

famous Bulgarians

Shocker-oo, he is. He is Bulgaria’s all-time leading scorer. And he has played on soccer teams outside of Bulgaria, including Manchester United.

Ivet Lalova 

The next name the two men at Reception mentioned was Ivet Lalova, a sprinter. She is much decorated.

famous Bulgarians

Holding the Bulgarian flag aloft

She is tied for fastest runner not of West African descent.

Famous Bulgarians Contemporary: The Arts

Raina Kabaivanska

Raina Kabaivanska is soprano opera singer. Her specialties are Verdi and Puccini, although she has sung a wide range of roles.

famous Bulgarians

Nina Dobrev

Nikolina Konstantinova Debreva – Nina Dobrev – comes from Sofia and has made a name for herself in Hollywood. Her first acting role was Mia Jones in Degrassi: The Next Generation (2006-2009). Then starred in The Vampire Diaries (2009-2015).

famous Bulgarians

She’s been in numerous films, including The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012).

A couple of days after asking Alexandyr my question about famous Bulgarians, he came back with a list of name that I have used here. Many thanks to Alexandyr at the Regina Maria Hotel!


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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