Balchik, on Bulgaria's Black Sea, where Romanian Queen Marie Left Her Heart. In a Jar

It was in 1940. In a glass jar in a chapel in Balchik on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast rested the heart of Queen Marie of Romania. It was her last wish before she died. She had loved Balchik.

The coastal resort was Romanian territory at that time. But in 1940 Bulgaria regained its possession with the help of Nazi Germany. The Bulgarians promised the Romanians “that the Queen’s heart, if you choose to leave it there instead of transporting it to a suitable place inside Romania, will be surrounded by all attributes of attention and respect.”

The Romanians didn’t trust their neighbours. So a day after the pact that reinstated Balchik to Bulgaria went into effect General Eugenio Svilenik, a personal aide, spirited the sarcophagus with the queen’s heart back to Romania.

The fruit of her love for Balchik remained behind though: the mesmerizing garden complex that she created to symbolised the unity of all the world religions, while at the same time being in harmony with nature.

{josquote}Marie was the first Royal to declare herself to the Baha’i Faith.{/josquote}

The palace and its lush exotic gardens are an aesthetic accumulation of the symbols of different civilizations. They are an age-old dream come true: cultures and religions harmoniously existing together. The minaret of the small mosque rises close to a Roman-Arab bathhouse, Bulgarian-style chardaks, or verandas, and a Moorish courtyard. The huge earthenware pots were shipped from Morocco and the Hellenistic marble throne from Florence. The sea can be seen from everywhere.

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