Balchik Botanical Garden - Botanical garden on the northern black sea coast
The chief attraction of the place is the wonderful Botanical Garden, a branch of the University of Sofia. Its ten hectares surround the small summer palace of the Romanian Queen Marie. (The area was part of Romania between 1913 and 1940). The attractive villa has the unusual addition of a minaret, said to have been built for the Queen's Turkish lover.
The gardens are the "residence" of 3000 or so plant species of which cacti alone are over 250, and thus Europe's second most important collection.
The gardens are set on a steep hillside, and descend in six terraces to the sea - supposedly one for each of the Queen's children.
There are over three thousand varieties of shrubs, roses and flowers, set among streams, waterfalls, and ornamental channels. There is a rock garden, a formal French one with clipped box cones and geometric beds, and an astonishing collection of cacti. Interspersed are stone thrones, seats, pillars and ornaments collected by the Queen.