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Golden Sands

Golden Sands is a resort town on the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, adjacent to a national park in the municipality of Varna.

Although located 17 km north of downtown Varna, it is virtually connected to the city by a continuous swath of resorts and villa communities. It is a popular tourist destination, drawing many visitors from Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Persian Gulf, Israel, and other countries, attracted by the favourable climate, scenic landscape, and reasonable prices. Golden Sands is served by the Varna International Airport and several regular bus lines of the Varna public transit system.

The old growth forests between ancient Odessos and Dionysopolis were first mentioned by Pliny as the home of mythical dwarfs, visited by the Argonauts. Byzantine sources name the local fortress Gerania; there are remains of massive stone ramparts along the edge of the Frangen plateau to the north. The cave Aladzha Monastery, 3 km to the west, was a monastic centre from antiquity through the Second Bulgarian Empire. In the days of Ottoman Empire, Uzunkum (Turkish: long sands) was known as a hideaway for outlaws. It was largely uninhabited until the 1950s, although used for outings.

The resort construction started in 1957 and in about two decades, the place was transformed into a modern holiday complex with more than 100 hotels, numerous villas, casinos, apartment buildings, restaurants, clubs, spa centres, attractions, shopping centres, and sports facilities, including yacht marinas, equestrian base and the Aquapolis water park. Golden Sands received significant internal and foreign investments in the 1990s and early 2000s. A contemporary chapel of John the Baptist was recently added.

The area is labelled to have the purest quartz sand on the coast and abounds in old trees and landscaped parks. Hot mineral water springs and woodlands cascading from the Frangen Plateau, forming the Zlatni Pyasatsi Nature Park, turn Golden Sands into one of the most popular tourist spots in Eastern Europe. It also comprises the Holiday Club Riviera luxury resort and the Chaika villa community, with the historic landmark Aladzha Monastery in its vicinity. Just north of Golden Sands is perhaps the best known gay beach in the nation. Three 18-hole golf courses are currently (2007) being developed around Balchik and Kavarna to the north.

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