Bulgarian

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Bulgaria, a country in southeastern Europe, boasts of having one of the richest folk heritages in the world. The history, culture and heritage of the country has been influenced by a number of ancient civilizations, including the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Varangians and especially Bulgars. Owing to their rich heritage, Bulgarians have played a major role in influencing the development of European arts and culture, and have made immense contributions to humanity, especially over the past two centuries. One of the earliest known composers of Medieval Europe was Yoan Kukuzel who reformed the entire Byzantine musical writing system.

Vote For Your Favourite Bulgarian Personality
 1 
André the Giant
(French Professional Wrestler Known for His Great Size)
André the Giant
68
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Coulommiers, France
Died: January 27, 1993

André the Giant was one of the most popular French wrestlers ever to appear in WWF. He stood over seven feet tall due to a condition aptly called gigantism, but used his condition to gain popularity. Also an actor, André the Giant continues to be one of the most recognizable faces in the world, several years after his death.

 2 
Hristo Stoichkov
(Football Player)
Hristo Stoichkov
10
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: February 8, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Bulgarian footballer/coach Hristo Stoichkov’s temper and ugly fights with players have earned him nicknames such as The Raging Bull and The Dagger. The Ballon d'Or-winning player started his career at 11 with a local club. He then graduated to CSKA Sofia and Barcelona and was named to FIFA 100, too.
 3 
Baba Vanga
(Mystic)
Baba Vanga
13
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: January 31, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ustrumca, Salonica Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
Died: November 11, 1996
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 4 
Maria Bakalova
6
Birthdate: June 4, 1996
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Burgas, Bulgaria
 5 
Grigor Dimitrov
(Bulgarian Former World Number 3 Tennis Player)
Grigor Dimitrov
5
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 16, 1991
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Haskovo, Bulgaria

Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov had had a career-high ranking of number 3 in singles. The most successful player in Bulgarian tennis history, he has also been in the news for his relationship with Maria Sharapova. Known for his acrobatics and athleticism, he was initially named Baby Federer.

 6 
Dimitar Berbatov
(The Leading Goal-Scorer in Bulgarian Football History)
Dimitar Berbatov
3
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 30, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Born to a footballer father and a handball player mother, Bulgarian former footballer Dimitar Berbatov was no stranger to sports as a child. He made history as a striker and became Bulgaria’s leading goal-scorer of all time. He has also had a successful career with Manchester United, winning 2 Premier Leagues with them.

 7 
Kubrat Pulev
(Bulgarian Boxer and Multiple Heavyweight Championship Winner )
Kubrat Pulev
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 4, 1981
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria
 8 
Rusev
(First and Only Bulgarian Wrestler to Compete in the WWE)
Rusev
4
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: December 25, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Bulgarian wrestler Miroslav Barnyashev, better known as Miro and Rusev, has had a successful career in the US. He is the only Bulgarian to have represented the WWE. He currently represents AEW and is a former United States and TNT champion. Before stepping into wrestling, he also competed in rowing, sambo, and powerlifting.

 9 
Aurelian
(Emperor)
Aurelian
4
Birthdate: September 9, 0214
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria
Died: September 25, 0275

Roman emperor Aurelian ruled from 270 to 275. His military triumphs reunited the Roman Empire and put an end to the Crisis of the Third Century. He built the Aurelian Walls in Rome. Known as the Restitutor Orbis, he defeated the barbarian armies of the Goths and the Alamanni.

 10 
Miro
(Bulgarian-American Professional Wrestler)
Miro
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: December 25, 1985
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Plovdiv, People's Republic of Bulgaria

Bulgarian wrestler Miroslav Barnyashev, better known as Miro and Rusev, has had a successful career in the US. He is the only Bulgarian to have represented the WWE. He currently represents AEW and is a former United States and TNT champion. Before stepping into wrestling, he also competed in rowing, sambo, and powerlifting.

 11 
Kristalina Georgieva
(Bulgarian Economist and Managing Director of the 'International Monetary Fund')
Kristalina Georgieva
7
Birthdate: August 13, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgarian environmental economist Kristalina Georgieva, the MD of IMF, believes developed nations should help low-income countries to prevent the Great Divergence. Her career boasts of a stint at the World Bank Group. She made it to the 2020 Time 100 and was named the European of the Year in 2010.

 12 
Naim Suleymanoglu
(Bulgarian World Champion Weightlifter and 3-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Naim Suleymanoglu
5
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 23, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ptichar, Bulgaria
Died: November 18, 2017

Nicknamed The Pocket Hercules for his 4’10” frame, Bulgarian weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu was one of the world’s greatest in the sport. While he initially won 2 World Championships for Bulgaria, he later won 3 Olympic gold medals and 5 World Championships for Turkey. He has also joined the Nationalist Movement Party.

 13 
Stanislav Ianevski
1
Birthdate: May 16, 1985
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria
 14 
Veselin Topalov
(Bulgarian Chess Grandmaster and Former FIDE World Chess Champion)
Veselin Topalov
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 15, 1975
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ruse, Bulgaria

Bulgarian chess Grandmaster Veselin Topalov is a former world number 1 and a FIDE World Chess Champion. Starting to play chess at age 8, he became a prodigy soon after. He has been part of 9 Chess Olympiads and also bagged the Chess Oscar in 2005.

 15 
Boris III of Bulgaria
(Former Tsar of the Kingdom of Bulgaria (1918 - 1943))
Boris III of Bulgaria
2
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: January 30, 1894
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria
Died: August 28, 1943
 16 
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
(Prime Minister of Bulgaria (2001-05))
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
6
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: June 16, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria

The last king of Bulgaria, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, has also been the country’s prime minister. He had taken over as the king at 6, after his father’s mysterious death. He married a Spanish noble lady while in exile in Madrid and returned to Bulgaria 50 years after the abolition of monarchy.

 17 
Sylvie Vartan
4
Birthdate: August 15, 1944
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Iskrets, Bulgaria
 18 
Georgi Markov
(Bulgarian Dissident Writer Best Known for His Work 'The Truth that Killed')
Georgi Markov
0
Birthdate: March 1, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sofia
Died: September 11, 1978

Georgi Markov was a Bulgarian writer, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. After relocating to London due to political reasons, Markov worked as a journalist and broadcaster for the BBC World Service, Radio Free Europe, and Deutsche Welle. Georgi Markov was assassinated in 1978 and was posthumously honored with the Order of Stara Planina in 2000.

 19 
Blagoy Ivanov
(Bulgarian MMA Fighter and Sambo Practitioner Currently Signed to UFC)
Blagoy Ivanov
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: October 9, 1986
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sandanski, Bulgaria

Bulgarian MMA fighter and sambo artist Blagoy Ivanov, also known as Bagata, has a gold medal in World Sambo Championships. Initially a talented judoka, he rejected an opportunity to represent his country at the Olympics and chose a career in MMA and sambo instead. He currently represents the UFC.

 20 
Tsvetana Pironkova
(First Tennis Player of Bulgaria Who Reached Semi-Final of a Grand Slam in Singles)
Tsvetana Pironkova
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: September 13, 1987
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
 21 
Philipp Kirkorov
0
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: April 30, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Varna, Bulgaria
 22 
Decius
(Emperor)
Decius
0
Birthdate: 0201 AD
Birthplace: Martinci
Died: May 31, 0251
 23 
Vasil Levski
(Bulgarian Revolutionary & Freedom Fighter Who was Executed by the Ottoman Authorities)
Vasil Levski
1
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: July 18, 1837
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Karlovo, Bulgaria
Died: February 18, 1873

Vasil Levski was a Bulgarian revolutionary who is considered a national hero in Bulgaria. Nicknamed the Apostle of Freedom, Vasil Levski strategized a revolutionary movement to free Bulgaria from the Ottoman rule. In a nationwide television poll conducted in 2007, Levski was voted as the greatest Bulgarian of all time.

 24 
Stiliyan Petrov
(Bulgarian Former Professional Football Midfielder and All-Time Most Capped Player of the Country)
Stiliyan Petrov
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 5, 1979
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montana
 25 
Simeon I of Bulgaria
(Ruled over Bulgaria from 893 to 927)
Simeon I of Bulgaria
0
Birthdate: 0864 AD
Birthplace: Bulgaria
Died: May 27, 0927
 26 
Belisarius
(Military Commander)
Belisarius
2
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0500 AD
Birthplace: Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria
Died: February 29, 0565
Byzantine military commander Belisarius, one of the Last of the Romans, is remembered for his loyalty to Emperor Justinian I and for his self-less love for his wife, Antonina, who later cheated on him. Legend has it that he was blinded by Justinian and made to beg on the streets.
 27 
Stefka Kostadinova
(High jumper)
Stefka Kostadinova
2
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Stefka Kostadinova is a Bulgarian former athlete whose world record of 2.09 metres in high jump has stood since 1987. One of the most respected athletes from Bulgaria, Kostadinova has won an Olympic gold medal, two gold medals in World Championships, five gold medals in World Indoor Championships, and four gold medals in European Indoor Championships.

 28 
Samuil of Bulgaria
(Former Tsar of Bulgaria)
Samuil of Bulgaria
0
Birthdate: 0958 AD
Birthplace: Prilep, Macedonia (FYROM)
Died: October 6, 1014
 29 
Krum
(Former Ruler of Bulgaria (803 - 814))
Krum
0
Birthdate: 0755 AD
Birthplace: Pannonia
Died: April 13, 0814

Krum was the ruler of Bulgaria from 803 until his demise in 814. An able administrator, Krum helped expand the Bulgarian territory, which doubled in size during his reign. Krum is also remembered for introducing the first known written law code in the history of Bulgaria, which established him as a strict but just ruler.

 30 
Valentin Yordanov
(Bulgarian Freestyle Wrestler and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Valentin Yordanov
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 26, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ruse Municipality, Bulgaria

One of the most decorated wrestlers in history, Valentin Yordanov has not only won a gold and a bronze at the Olympics but is also a 7-time World and European Champion. He continued to represent Bulgaria even after moving to the US. He also served as the president of the Bulgarian Wrestling Federation.

 31 
Tzvetan Todorov
(Historian, Philosopher, Sociologist Known for His Contributions to Literary, Cultural, and Thought History)
Tzvetan Todorov
0
Birthdate: March 1, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria
Died: February 7, 2017

Tzvetan Todorov was a Bulgarian-French historian, philosopher, literary critic, and sociologist. He completed his doctorat ès lettres at the University of Paris and had a brilliant academic career. He helped to found the journal Poétique and served as one of its managing editors. He authored many books, including Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. 

 32 
Maria Popova
(Bulgarian-Born American-Based Writer Best Known for Her Blog 'The Marginalian')
Maria Popova
1
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: July 28, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bulgaria

Maria Popova is a Bulgarian-born writer who focuses on philosophy and culture. Considered an important writer, Popova also contributes to popular publications like Wired UK, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. Over the course of her career, Maria Popova has been featured in various lists including Forbes' 30 under 30

 33 
Martin Petrov
(Retired Bulgarian Footballer Who Played as a Winger)
Martin Petrov
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 15, 1979
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vratsa

Retired Bulgarian footballer Martin Petrov was known as an attacking midfielder. He has had successful stints with clubs such as CSKA Sofia and Atlético Madrid, winning the Bulgarian Cup with the former and the UEFA Intertoto Cup with the latter. He was named the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year in 2006.

 34 
Hristo Botev
(One of the Heroes of the Bulgarian National Revolution and Poet)
Hristo Botev
5
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: January 6, 1848
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kalofer, Bulgaria
Died: June 1, 1876

Hristo Botev was a Bulgarian poet and revolutionary. Widely regarded as a national hero by Bulgarians, Botev was thought to be ahead of his peers in his aesthetic, philosophical, and political views. An influential and important figure in the history of Bulgaria, Botev has several monuments, schools, football clubs, and stadiums named after him.

 35 
Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria
(Former Prince of Bulgaria (1879 - 1886))
Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria
2
Birthdate: April 5, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Verona, Italy
Died: November 17, 1893

Alexander Joseph or Alexander of Battenberg was a prince of Bulgaria from 29 April 1879 to 7 September 1886. He was forced to abdicate in 1886 by pro-Russian Bulgarian Army officers during a coup d'état. After abdicating, Alexander went on to serve in the Austrian Army as a general.

 36 
Giovanna of Italy
2
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: November 13, 1907
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: February 26, 2000
 37 
Julian Kostov
(Bulgarian Actor, Filmmaker and a 10-Time National Swimming Champion)
Julian Kostov
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: August 25, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Varna, Bulgaria
 38 
Julia Kristeva
(Bulgarian-French Author and Academic Whose Themes Surrounded on Feminism, Semiotics, and Psychoanalysis)
Julia Kristeva
2
Birthdate: June 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sliven, Bulgaria

Bulgarian-born French author and literary critic Julia Kristeva is also a professor at the University Paris Diderot. Her writings, such as the Female Genius trilogy, are centered around feminism, semiotics, and psychoanalysis. She has also pioneered semanalysis and has been recognized with honors such as Commander of the Legion of Honor.

 39 
Ivelin Popov
(Bulgarian Football Player Who Plays as a Midfielder)
Ivelin Popov
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: October 26, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgarian footballer Ivelin Popov started his youth career with Septemvri Sofia and later graduated to Turkish and Russian clubs. He won the Russian Premier League with Spartak Moscow and the Bulgarian Cup and Supercup with Litex Lovech. He has also been a Bulgarian Footballer of the Year thrice.

 40 
Boyko Borisov
(Bulgaria's Second-longest Serving Prime Minister Who Served Three-Terms Between 2009 and 2021)
Boyko Borisov
3
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: June 13, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bankya, Bulgaria

Boyko Borisov is a Bulgarian politician best known for his service as the Prime Minister of Bulgaria. He has served three terms as the prime minister between 2009 and 2021. An important politician, Borisov also served as the Mayor of Sofia from 10 November 2005 to 27 July 2009.

 41 
Hristo Shopov
0
Birthdate: January 4, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria
 42 
Darius Adams
(American-Born Bulgarian Basketball Player Who Plays as a Point Guard)
Darius Adams
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Decatur, Illinois, United States

American-born Bulgarian basketball player Darius Adams started his senior career with the Venezuelan team Guaiqueríes de Margarita after going undrafted by the NBA. He later played for clubs from places such as France, Germany, Ukraine, and China, and now represents the American team Fort Wayne Mad Ants as a point guard.

 43 
Jared Homan
(American Basketball Player Who Has Represented the Bulgarian National Basketball Team)
Jared Homan
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: March 6, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Remsen, Iowa, United States

American basketball player Jared Homan started his career with the Greek club Maroussi and later represented teams such as Bayern Munich and Maccabi Ashdod. He has also won the Croatian League and Croatian Cup with Cibona Zagreb and has represented the Bulgarian national basketball team.

 44 
Kotoōshū Katsunori
(Bulgarian Sumo Wrestler and One of the Longest Serving 'ōzeki (Champion) in Sumo History)
Kotoōshū Katsunori
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: February 19, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Retired Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotoōshū Katsunori was initially a Greco-Roman wrestler but switched to sumo after gaining weight. He scripted history as the first sumo wrestler from Europe to bag the Emperor's Cup and had been an ōzeki for 47 consecutive tournaments. He later became a Japanese citizen.

 45 
Kaloyan of Bulgaria
(Emperor of Bulgaria)
Kaloyan of Bulgaria
0
Birthdate: 1172 AD
Birthplace: Bulgaria
Died: October 8, 1207
Boris I of Bulgaria
0
Birthdate: 0825 AD
Birthplace: Pliska, Bulgaria
Died: May 2, 0907
 47 
Clement of Ohrid
(The First Bishop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Who Inspired Slavs to Follow Christianity)
Clement of Ohrid
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthplace: Macedonia Greece, Greece
Died: July 27, 0916

A pioneering medieval Bulgarian saint, Clement of Ohrid was a student of saints Cyril and Methodius. He inspired a huge number of Slavs to follow Christianity. He was also the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s first bishop and one of its Seven Apostles. He is remembered as the patron saint of North Macedonia.

 48 
Serafim Todorov
(Bulgarian Amateur Boxer and Olympic Silver Medalist)
Serafim Todorov
0
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Peshtera, Bulgaria

Bulgarian amateur boxer Serafim Todorov is not just an Olympic silver medalist but also became the last man to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a controversial bout which many thought Mayweather had won. A 3-time World and European champion, he was nicknamed Sarafa, or The Money-Changer.

 49 
Ivet Lalova-Collio
(Bulgarian Athlete Who Specializes in 100m and 200m Sprint Event and European Champion)
Ivet Lalova-Collio
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: May 18, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria

Five-time Olympian Bulgarian athlete Ivet Lalova-Collio is a master of the 100m and 200m sprint. She has been a European Champion and has won gold medals at the European Junior and Indoor Championships. He career almost ended after colliding with a fellow athlete during a warm-up session and breaking her right femur.

 50 
Carl Djerassi
(Contribution to the development of oral contraceptive pills)
Carl Djerassi
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: October 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: January 30, 2015

Known as the father of the pill, Carl Djerassi is best remembered for chemically synthesizing a steroid mimic of the hormone progesterone, which paved the way for the production of contraceptive pills.  That apart, he made important contributions to the synthesis of antihistamines, pest control, mass spectrometry etc. Also a successful author, he wrote several non-fictions, novels, dramas and poems.

Filip Kutev, a 20th century composer is credited to have established a new Bulgarian choral tradition. Bulgarians are also famed for their artistic abilities, especially in the creation of frescoes, murals and icons. Equally renowned for their architectural abilities, architects such as Victoria Angelova Vinarova and Andrey Damyanov were considered pioneering master-builders of their times. Modern day Bulgarians are proudly taking forward the rich legacy of their forefathers and are making important contributions to the fields of arts, literature, sports, science and technology, politics, and economics. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous Bulgarians.