Home ° 2017



The Bulgars

The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkish tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks.

The three main port cities were Varna and Burgas on the Black Sea and Ruse on the Danube River.


A successor of a small Roman town, called Deultum (later named Develt), was a military colony.

Burgas, Bulgaria. A principal Black Sea port.

Its first inhabitants were the Thracians. In the Middle Ages a fortress possibly used as a watchtower called Pirgos was erected at Burgas. Develt was renamed during the 17th century; initially it was Ahelo-Burgas, and after the Liberation Burgas. Burgas, a small settlement, gradually became the centre of the Southern Black Sea coast with well developed trade and industry. Most of its growth was during the late 1800s.


Set up in the 1st century B.C. as a Roman military fort and port under the name of “Sexsaginta Prista” (“Port of sixty ships”). By the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, due to the wide range of economic and spiritual contacts with the countries along the Danube, Ruse turned into the biggest city in Bulgaria, with a distinct European aspect and tradition. A number of stylish Secession style buildings with unique interior and exterior decoration were erected designed and built by Italian, Austrian, German and Bulgarian architects.


Southern Turkey, Greece, Crete, Albania.
Jacob Kuyper. 1880.
Map of Southern Turkey, Greece, Albania. 1880.

Southern Turkey, Greece, Crete, Albania. Map. Jacob Kupyer. 1880.

Varna dates back to almost five millennia, but it wasn't until seafaring Greeks founded a colony here in 585 BC that the town became a port. During occupation by Turkish forces in the last decades of the 14th century, Varna preserved its significance as a port and trade center. Varna was captured by the Ottomans in 1399 and remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years. Along with Shumen, Silistra, and Ruschuk (now Ruse), Varna was one of the four Ottoman strongholds in the northeastern region of modern Bulgaria. During the centuries of Ottoman domination, the town assumed an oriental appearance and, due to the thriving trade and handicrafts, Varna began to revive from its economic decline. More than 500 ships cast anchor in its harbour every year, and 43 countries had consulates in the city.

The national self-awareness of the Bulgarian people awakened in the early 19th century, giving rise to a rapid patriotic upsurge. A Bulgarian municipality was set up in Varna. In 1828 a Russian squadron commanded by Admiral Grieg blockaded the fortress.

Steam driven armoured Gunboat flying the French Tricolour

Steam driven iron steamboat. Franco-Prussian war.

In a brave attack during the night, Russian sailors boarded the Turkish fleet. After a siege of two months, Varna fell. The chief of the Turkish garrison handed over the keys to the city to the Russian Emperor Nicholas I.


The citizens of Varna had also kept alive for many years memories of the battle at Cape Kaliakra in 1791, when the Russian Admiral Ushakov defeated the Turkish fleet. After the victorious end of the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation of 1877-1878, the long awaited day of freedom finally came for Varna, as it did for most of Bulgaria.

July 14, 1877, Week's News, London, United Kingdom

The Russo-Turkish War.

The Russians In Bulgaria.The Russians in Bulgaria.

Russians in Bulgaria.

In comparison with last week's war news there are no events of great importance to chronicle in our present issue. Day by day legions of Russians, the material of war and the enormous supplies needed for 120,000 soldiers in the field, have been crossing the slender pontoon bridge between Simnitscha and Sistova. The great mass of these troops will apparendy remain there till all is safe in their rear as they advance. Flying columns and masses of Cosset cavalry have meanwhile done much. Biela has been captured though with heavy loss, and the bridge over the Jantra has beien secursd. Many villages have been occupied, and a considerable force has been sent against Nicopolis. In a short time Rustchuk, which cannot be taken without a regular siege, will probably be masked, and it is stated that the eighth corps is being hurried forward to Tirnova en route for the Balkan passes.

Of the army corps in the Dobrudscha little is heard, except that the bridge at Matchin is as much in request as that at Sistova, and that General Zimmerman is likely to invest SUistria. The Turks at each of the fortresses of the Quadrilateral are apparently quiescent, but we are told soon to expect stirring news from the entrenched camp at Shunila, where Abdul Kerim Pasha has perfected his plan of action, in the success of which there is implicit confidence. The Turks are cautious, but they were circumvented when the enemy crossed the Danube. The Russians w ill also be cautious, for the stakie is great, and a defeat in Bulgaria would be an overwhelming disaster. If we succeed in a decisive battle in the Bulgarian plains," Prince Gortschakoff is reported to have recently said, our task will be completed in a short time.

If the Turks retire into the Balkans, and I have reason to believe they will, then we shall have annoying delays because of their excellent positions for defence, and then will commence our difficulty in provisioning the army." It may be doubted whether one campfUgn in Bulgaria, though it may exhaust both belligerents, will bring about decisive results. The Porte is now fully aware that every nerve will have to be strained to beat back the Russian invasion. The Sultan, arovtsed from his complacency by the startling news of the easy crossing at Sistova, has sent Redif Pasha, the Minister of War, to the front, which event may, it is thought, break up the Palace clique and pave the way for the recall of Midhat Pasha.

The troops which were caniped on the borders of Montenegro have been ordered round to Adrianople, and none of them could be spared even to hold in subjection the restive Greeks of Thessaly and Epirus, Who, with their brethren across the frontier, are prepared to make war upon the Turks at the first news of a Russian victory. Thus far Russia and Austria combined have kept the Servians quiet, but it is now semi-officially reported from St. Petersburg that a Roumano-Scrvian alliance "is a possible event" the meaning of which is that the troops of Prince Charles may cross the Danube into the Timok Valley with the ready consent of Servia, and without bringing about the threatened Austrian occupation of that principality. Later telegrams state that a council of Ministiers at Bucharest has decided tliat the Roumanian army will assume the offensive.

In 1881, after the liberation, Mihail Koloni, the mayor of Varna, spearheaded a move to build a modern public park. He was met with resistance, but funds were granted and soon the park grew to 26 deacres, 130 trees were planted, paths were cleared and 'towards nightfall alleys thronged by a long train of gentlemen and dressed-up ladies. Baroque, turn-of-the-century and contemporary architecture blended with shady promenades and a handsome seaside garden, which was founded by Greeks in the sixth century B.C.

Bulgarian National Dress.

Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest towns in the Bulgaria; its history dates back more than five thousand years according to archaeological excavations. The upsurge of Veliko Tarnovo is related to the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 1393). In 1185 the town was declared a capital of the restored Bulgarian State by the brothers Asen and Petar, who declared the end of the Byzantine dominion, which continued for 167 years. After its selection to be a capital, the town developed fast, as within the period 12th 14th century it was the most unconquerable Bulgarian fortress, as well as a cultural and intellectual center of Bulgaria.

The medieval fortress Tsarevets, situated on the peak, is surrounded on three sides by the river Yantra. Excavations show that although Tsarevets is surrounded by a fortified wall, it was not a closed fortress, but a medieval town, in the center of which the following objects were rising: the palace, the church “St. Petka”, multiple residential and economic buildings, water reservoirs and battle towers. The Patriarch’s residence was on the highest part of Tsarevets, and the Patriarch’s church “The Ascension of Christ” was also in close proximity.

Veliko Tarnovo is also noted for its multiple orthodox temples. One of the most emblematic medieval churches is the temple “St. Forty Holy Martyrs," constructed in honor of the triumph of Tsar Ivan Asen II (1218 1241) over the Epir Despot Teodor Komnin (1180 1273). The Bulgarian tsars Kaloyan (1168 1207) and Ivan Asen II were buried here, as well as many other members of the royal families and the Bulgarian aristocracy.

St. Dimitar Church, Veliko, Tarnovo, Bulgaria.

During the Age of Revival (18th 19th century) Veliko Tarnovo attracted Bulgarian intellectuals. The town was also a center of the First Revolutionary Region during the April Uprising of 1876 against the Ottoman dominion.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

Kindly Kindly Donate.


DALevy @


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.