Balchik is a Black Sea coastal town in the Southern Dobruja area of northeastern Bulgaria. It is located in Dobrich Oblast and is 42 km northeast of Varna. The town sprawls scenically along hilly terraces descending from the Dobruja plateau to the sea.
The ancient Greek colony of Krounoi (also known as Dionysopolis, after Dionysus), later a Greek-Byzantine fortress, stood on the site of an older Thracian settlement. In the First Bulgarian Empire in 7th century AD, the place's name changed from Krounoi to Karvuna; in the Second Bulgarian Empire, it became an important administrative centre of its Karvunska Hora district, and was marked on Italian portolans as a port with the Italianized name of Carbona. In the 14th century, it briefly became capital of the spinoff Dobrujansko despotstvo (Principality of Karvuna). Under the Ottoman Empire, the town came to be known with its present name, which perhaps derived from a Gagauz word meaning "small town" (as opposed to the "large town" of Varna).
After the liberation of Bulgaria, Balchik developed as centre of a rich agricultural region, wheat-exporting port, and district (okoliya) town, and later, as a major tourist destination with the beachfront resort of Albena to its south. The ethnic composition gradually changed from mostly Gagauz and Turkish to predominantly Bulgarian. Between 1913-1915 and 1919-1940, Balchik was part of Romania.
During Romania's administration, the Balchik Palace was the favourite summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania and her immediate family. The town is the site of Marie's Oriental villa, the place where her heart was kept, in accordance with her last wishes, until 1940 (when the Treaty of Craiova awarded the region back to Bulgaria). It was then moved to Romania. Today, the Balchik Palace and the adjacent Balchik Botanical Garden are the town's most popular landmarks. Currently, two 18-hole golf courses are being developed north of town.