Location and history
The city of Varna is situated at the North shore of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is famous for its rich natural resources, which make it one of the most popular resort centres in Europe and the largest one in the Black Sea region. At the same time the city constitutes an intersection point of the road between the Middle East and Western Europe. According to the official data, the population of Varna municipality amounts to 346 000 people, but in reality the number is quite larger, especially in summer, when, according to unofficial data, the population doubles. Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria, taking an area of 205 square kilometres.Investments and development of the real estate market
The geographical location and the existing infrastructure have predetermined the favourable development of the city for centuries. The well-organized water and cargo transport determine the image of the city as an intersection point of the connection between the East and the West.
There are three main factors that determine the infrastructure arrangement in the city: port of Varna, Varna International Airport and the telecommunication network
The city of Varna has a well-developed railway and road network, in the immediate vicinity of Varna International Airport. The port is known as the “container” and “grain” gate of the Republic of Bulgaria – it exports cement, clinker, fertilizers, soda ash, it treats all types of cargo – liquid cargo, loose cargo and countables.
The city of Varna was founded under the name Odessos during the VI century B.C. by Anatolian Greeks. During the Hellenist era, the ancient city Odessos turns into one of the most significant cities on the Black Sea Coast. It was conquered by the Romans and became part of the large Roman Empire during the first century. One of the city’s landmarks today are the Roman Baths – these are baths from the II century that have taken a major place in the city public life for three centuries. A lot of archaeological evidence about the life from the Greek and Roman era, as well as from the earliest historical eras, is exhibited in the Archaeological museum in the city. There, one can see the world’s oldest golden treasure, found during excavations of the Varna necropolis (city of the dead people), which dates back to the IV century B.C.
It is assumed that the subsequent name of the city – Varna – has a Slavonic origin and means “black”. Varna is among the first territories included in the newly-established state (VII century). During the Middle Ages, the city preserved its significance as an important seaport and trade centre – it maintained commercial relationships with Genua, Venice and Constantinople.
The city is also famous for the battle between the Crusaders and the Ottoman Army in 1444. The crusade armies were defeated near Varna, whose leader, the young Polish king Vladislav Varnenchik, perished during the battle. This crusade is the last attempt of the Christian states to free Bulgaria from the Ottoman rule.
The economic recovery of the city began during the Renaissance period, when the international and transit trade through the port revived. In 1886 the railway line Varna-Rousse was constructed, which established a direct connection between the Danube and the Black sea.
The largest collection of monuments from all eras can be found in the central part of the city. The monuments that are pronounced as monuments of the cultural-historical heritage are 24, and the monuments declared for architectural monuments are 712.
Municipality of Varna has a powerful economic potential. Here, the main sectors that are developed are the industry and the services. The good investment climate in the municipality and the possibilities for tourism are a prerequisite for the development of these sectors.Tourism
The services sector is very well-developed. A large variety of the services offered in the city is observed.
In 2007 there is a huge interest in Varna for the commercial areas of the malls that are currently being constructed – there are two projects in the construction phase and two ones that are under preparation.
The construction of the „Pfohe Mall“and “Mall of Varna” has started in the city. It is planned that the sites will be opened for the Christmas holidays in 2007. “Mall of Varna“is a commercial and entertainment centre with 70 thousand square meters spread-out built-up area, designed by the British architecture office “Chapman Taylor”. There will be shops, a supermarket, movie theatres, an entertainment floor with a bowling hall, a large children’s spot, a skating-rink, a fitness and wellness centre in the mall.
The implementation of a project for construction of a commercial centre in the heart of the city will start very soon.
Varna International Airport is directly related to the economic situation of the city and the region. It is the second largest airport after Sofia airport. It provides first-class access to the city and the resort complexes and makes a connection with 35 countries and 101 cities around the world, but with a high seasonal dependence of the traffic. In 2006 an expansion of the passenger terminals of Varna International Airport was completed and this large project that has been launched will continue during the next years. There is an expressed interest for investment in Varna International Airport from Wiggins Group, Great Britain; Brussels Airport; a consortium of 6 multinational companies, among which are Credit Swiss First Boston, Montgomery Asset Management, Copenhagen Airport and the Belgian company BIAC.
In the near future a new SAT II system for flying and landing of airplanes will be introduced during bad weather conditions, which, together with the construction of the new platforms and runways for airplanes from the type Boing 767, will contribute to increasing the airport’s reputation at the international aviation market. The vision of the Bulgarian government on Varna International Airport is to give it for concession.
Port Varna is the sea gate of the city. The expansion of Port Varna and its moving will predetermine the image and the vision of the city for many years ahead. Moving the current port Varna-East to the urban part of the territory will provide an opportunity for the construction of new hotels, business centres and amusement parks. It will turn into the natural extension of the Sea garden. A new yacht and passenger terminal will be constructed there. With the realization of this project Varna has all the chances to be transformed into the pearl of the Black sea. The project for Port Varna also plans the following changes:
• Construction of a passenger terminal with a Business centre of Port Varna-East;
• Construction of a container terminal, grain terminal, a terminal for liquid cargo and a terminal for hazardous liquid cargo at the shore of Varna Lake.
Besides the port, the international airport and the good railway and land transport connections, Varna has one of the best telecommunication networks. There are 472 telephone lines for every 1000 people, which contributes to our country’s place among the leading ones in Central and Eastern Europe. Currently, there are three digital telephone exchanges of highest technological class of the companies Siemens and Ericsson. The level of digitalization of the telecommunication network is 21.7% as compared to 7.8% for the remaining part of the country. In Varna two international optic rings have been built.
The type and quality of the services offered will increase, as well as the development of the broad-band lines, which will further contribute to the effectiveness of the business through high-speed internet connection and opportunity for transfer of a larger volume of data.
A lot of well-known companies have representations and offices in Varna.
All these companies have chosen to establish representations in the city of Varna due to the particularly favourable investment climate, the low labour costs and the highly qualified staff provided by the universities in Varna. Varna is a cosmopolitan city with a large population with high consumer needs and relatively larger financial possibilities for consumption as compared to the other parts of the country.
Sports /golf, water sports, ski/ and investments
The opportunities for sports and vacation in the city of Varna are numerous and their quality is increasing:
Cycling, volleyball, basketball, East martial arts; football; bungee jumping; flying with balloon; parachute jumps; paraplanning; paintball; climbing; sports gymnastics; traditional martial arts; off-road; fitness; отнис; yacht rows in Varna bay; Sailing Team; windsurfing; yachting; kite-surfing; sea fishing; kites.
Underwater trips – diving to ships, cave and deep diving, diving courses, swimming.
The first year-long skating rink will be in Varna. Its size will be 20 to 30 meters. By Christmas in 2007 the people in Varna and the visitors of the city will have the opportunity to skate freely during the week, during weekends, all day long. The terrain of the skating rink is located at a height of 28 meters and will be glazed, which will reveal a panorama of the entire city. It is located on one floor, together with the bowling and the other entertainments. Around the ice surface there will be pubs and places for relaxation. The project plans hiring teachers in hockey and figure skating. Schools will be established, and later on – tournaments will be organized. This will be the first private skating rink in Bulgaria, managed by an international experienced operator.
Like each market that is under development, the Bulgarian one offers higher profitability and dynamics as compared to a number of markets, such as the West European and the American real estate market. The real estate market in the region of the city of Varna is an inseparable part of the general state of affairs in the country.
According to official data from the statistical institute, the average price of the properties in the capital toward the end of the last year was 1285 leva per square meter, while in Varna the price was 1201 leva. The average year growth (2004-2005) of the prices of apartments is above 20% for Varna.
The prices are in euro per square meter.
Vladislavovo, panel apartments – 363 euro/m2
City centre, new construction, brick - 1505 euro/m2
The market for offices has not ceased to develop, although at first sight it seems that the year 2006 has passed under the sign of the commercial areas.
Income from rent
The demand for residential and commercial areas in the city of Varna is traditionally high, which determines the high prices. The perspective for leasing properties in the urban part of Varna is among the biggest in Bulgaria. The demand is high during the entire year, due to the functioning universities in the city, the developed business environment and the numerous sports and resort places. During summer Varna becomes the city with highest rental prices in the country. The rents of residential areas start at 1.5 euro/m2 in the suburbs and reach 10 euro/m2 in the central parts of the city.
There are mainly investments in sites, located at the central part of the city and most often these are investments in old buildings with architecture value. Recently, the reconstruction of a site – a house with an area of 700 square meters – was completed, which is a cultural monument, located in the city centre and which will be offered for rent for a price of about 4-5 thousand euro per month. The rents in Varna mall also register a high interest on the part of leaseholders.
The main driving force of this market at the moment is the demand. The rents of the stores have increased by 14 percent by the end of 2006 as compared to the prices at the beginning of the year. After the opening of the malls, a large part of the traders on the central street will move to the mall and the prices of rents for commercial areas in the city centre will decrease by more than 10%. This is the forecast of “Forton International”, which is an exclusive representative in leasing Varna mall. This is what has already happened at the main commercial streets in Sofia. Besides the three new trade centres, one more is planned to be built – “Central Universal Store – Varna”, located on the main commercial street.
Economic indicators for business development, such as the policy of the local authorities for attracting foreign investors
Bulgaria is attractive for the investors due to some factors, such as the rapid growth (4.5% growth in GDP per year), the low inflation rate (2.3% for 2003), the low interest rate, the stable prices and labour costs, the low taxes and the low budget deficit. The labour costs in Bulgaria account for less than 10% of the average ones for the European Union.
Investments have a low risk level and a high return. The international accounting standards have been endorsed in Bulgaria. There is no tax on capital income or tax on income from interest.
Bulgaria is party to 52 international treaties for protection and stimulation of investment on the basis of the reciprocity and to 55 treaties for avoiding the double taxation.
The creation of a favourable business environment for attraction of investment and providing employment to the population is among the strategic goals of the municipality.
Among the main priorities is also the development of the public-private partnership between the local government and the companies by means of:
• financial leasing;
• obligation financing;
• directing the vacant terrains, the industrial, storage and commercial premises for the development of alternative business under preferential conditions;
In accordance with art.27, para.1 of the Investment Promotion Act, officials are hired in the municipal administration, who support the Bulgarian Investment Agency and provide cooperation to the investors, who received a certificate for a firs-class or second-class investment. This support is expressed in individual administrative service during the submission and receiving of all necessary documents for carrying out a certain investment.
Municipality of Varna has a strategic location with a transcontinental significance. The Black sea as a key natural geographical factor is a prerequisite for the development of the marine industry. Municipality of Varna has a well-developed tourism industry and a potential for development of new forms of tourism, such as Spa and Wellness, cultural, and ecological tourism. All types of transports are present and are well-developed and synchronized. The transport infrastructure is of local, national and international significance. There is a scientific and technical potential. All levels of education are developed, up to university education in the area of economics, management, technique and technologies, medicine and tourism. Municipality of Varna attracts labour force from the neighbouring regions and the entire country. The labour force is highly-qualified. Modern communication connections and a rich information environment have been developed. A well-developed network of financial and credit institutions for supporting the small and medium-sized business. Active international cooperation and opportunities to participate in EU projects. Large-scale production base in the industry with a broad sectoral scope. High level of privatization and restructuring of the state and municipal property. Cultural institutions of national and international significance are located in the city. There is a rich cultural and historical heritage, a lot of non-governmental organizations, civil movements, associations and chambers.
Tourism is one of the main sectors in the economic structure of Municipality of Varna. The resort complexes “Golden sands”, “St. Konstantin and Elena”, “Riviera” and “Sunny day” are world famous resorts and three of them have won the Blue flag prize for the best beach. The resorts offer numerous sports opportunities, balneological treatment and entertainment. The potential of the municipality in this sector is characterized with the unique combination of natural resources (beaches, mineral spas) and a cultural and historical heritage and traditions. The prices of the tourist services in Bulgaria are competitive as compared to the prices in Croatia, Greece and Spain. The demand for Wellness and Spa services is increasing, as well as the volume of demand during the months outside the active season. In Varna there are also prerequisites for the development of health, cultural and ecological tourism.Places of interest
The Varna Black Sea Coast offers a combination of wonderful conditions for sea tourism, rich cultural and historical heritage and incredible nature.
In the Sea Capital there are many museums, galleries, theatres and cultural monuments, such as the archaeological and historical museums, the cathedral “The Assumption”, the clock tower and many others that are worth seeing. The natural phenomenon – The Upright Stones is located close to the city.
Some of the most beautiful luxurious sea resorts in the country are located north from Varna, which offer excellent conditions for summer vacations, entertainment and practicing water sports. These are the resort complexes “St. Konstantin and Elena”, “Sunny day”, “Riviera”, “Golden Sands” and “Albena”. A lot of cultural events, conferences, seminars, as well as some attractive sports events are carried out there. In Albena resort complex paraplanning tournaments are often organized. The availability of healing mineral spas in the region and the wonderful modern resort and health centres turn the resort complexes into suitable places for combining balneological treatment with a holiday and relaxation near the sea shore.
Some small, but picturesque settlements, such as Obzor and Byala, are located south from the sea capital, where there are also good possibilities for sea tourism. They are suitable for those, who prefer the natural genuine atmosphere, far from the noise and luxury of the first-class resorts.
South from Varna is also located the resort complex Kamchiya, situated on the waterside of Kamchiya river in the midst of an exotic dense forest, close to the natural reserve of the same name, where unique plant and animal species are preserved.
Golf tourism has reported a 10 % increase; it strengthens the position of new destinations, one of which is the new golf playgrounds that are currently being constructed north from Varna.
Bulgaria will compete with Spain and Portugal in offering golf tourism in the near future, according to the catalogue of the Association of the British Tour operators (ABTA) for 2007.
Municipality of Varna has a strategic location with a transcontinental significance.
• The Black Sea as a key natural geographic factor is a prerequisite for the development of the marine industry. Municipality of Varna has a well-developed tourist industry and a potential for development of new forms of tourism, such as Spa and Wellness, cultural, and ecological tourism.
• There are urban planning and infrastructure conditions for the development of a duty-free zone.
• All types of transport are available and are well-developed and synchronized. The transport infrastructure is of local, national and international significance.
• Scientific and technical potential. All levels of education are developed, up to university education in the area of economics, management, technique and technologies, medicine and tourism.
• Municipality of Varna attracts labour force from the neighbouring regions and the entire country.
• Highly-qualified unoccupied labour force.
• Developed modern communication connections and rich information environment.
• A well-developed network of financial and credit institutions for supporting the small and medium-sized business.
• Active international cooperation and opportunities to participate in EU projects.
• Large-scale production base in the industry with a broad sectoral scope.
• High level of privatization and restructuring of the state and municipal property.
• Cultural institutions of national and international significance.
• Availability of a rich cultural and historical heritage.
• Numerous non-governmental organizations, civil movements, associations and chambers.
• The national astronomic observatory and planetarium “Nikolay Kopernik”
The planetarium, as it is known among the people in Varna, is one of the attractions in our sea capital. It has been established by Nikolay Petrov and has been officially opened on May 22nd, 1968. It is located in the Sea garden, just a few meters from its central entrance. The star hall has 80 seats.
The aquarium in Varna has been constructed in 1912 under the suggestion of King Ferdinand. The incredibly original make of the façade combines bas-relief images of a huge clam and some of the most widely-spread animal species in the Black Sea. The central hall of the Aquarium reveals before the view of the visitors an impressive collection of freshwater and sea species, presented in their natural environment. In some of the other halls there are arranged expositions that give a full picture of the flora, fauna and its specific characteristics in the Black Sea.
The only dolphinarium on the Balkan Peninsula is really one of the most amusing attractions that Varna offers to its visitors. In a spectacle, with duration of about 45 minutes, the visitors can see the incredible intelligence and receptiveness of the sea mammals. An interesting detail is the fact that in the Dolphinarium in Varna the first dolphin was born in 1992, which is currently not the only one. The event was considered as a sign that the animals have adapted themselves well in their new home.
The terrarium in the city of Varna has the most diverse and rich exhibition of living exotic animals, that is unique for the Black Sea region and the richest one in Bulgaria. The terrarium has a permanent exhibition of exotic animals – about 120 species of invertebrates, fish, amphibian reptiles, birds and small mammals. The building was constructed in 1998 by the professional biologists R. Trayanov, G. Simeonov, D. Delchev, V. Hainadzhieva.
The zoo takes up an area of 30 decares. It is located in the Sea Garden, near the monument of the perished soldiers during the Russian-Turkish war.
The zoo was opened in 1961 and soon it turned into a favourite spot both for children and adults. The first inhabitant of the zoo was the bear Maxim, who moved in to his newly constructed home in 1958. After that different animals and birds were supplied through the Varna Hunting Association, as well as monkeys from India and other animals.
• The water slide “Rolba” is located at the South beach in Varna. Swimming courses for children are organized in the attached swimming pool with mineral water.
• Sea garden - Varna
The Sea garden is one of the symbols of the city of Varna. It has arranged its beautiful and breezy lanes along the entire coastal alley in the city. A characteristic feature of the Sea garden are the maintained wonderful garden areas, the quiet alleys, the beautiful and diverse natural vegetation and the numerous cultural monuments located on its territory.
• Coastal alley
During the summer season the Coastal alley of the city of Varna turns into one of the most wanted and visited places in the city. The reason for that is not only the contiguous beach strip, but also the fact that here are concentrated all the summer clubs, discos, pizzerias and fish restaurants.
• The beaches of Varna
Varna can brag itself with its long and broad beach strip, which is covered with beautiful, golden sand. The strip is conventionally divided to several main beaches whose borders are not clearly defined: south, central, north, fisherman’s and officer’s beach.
• Archaeological museum
The Archaeological museum in Varna takes up an area of 2000 square meters and has 32 halls, where permanent expositions are exhibited – Prehistory, Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance Icon-painting. The oldest golden treasure is kept here. Its age dates back to 4000 years B.C.
• Naval Museum
The Naval Museum is one of the symbols of the city of Varna. It is located in the southernmost part of the Sea Garden. The beautiful building of the museum has been constructed in 1890 for the Italian consul Asaretto. Its park displays an arranged collection of marine guns, the old lighthouse of the sea port of Varna and one of Bulgaria’s first mine sweepers. The exposition is arranged in 12 halls, tracing the maritime history of the region from ancient times to the present day. The most valuable exhibit is the Drazki torpedo boat which became famous for sinking the Turkish cruiser Hamidie. This is the only ship of its kind to be preserved till the present day.