THE PALACE AND THE BOTANICAL GARDEN

balchik_2The year was 1924, the Queen was Maria of Romania, and it was love of first sight. The century old trees, the wild flowers, the rivulets and birds, even the quiet ancient water mills and dried stone fountain basins cast their spell on the First lady of Romania. Maria decided to build a palace. Architects and builders Augustino and Amerigo came all the way from Italy together with the florist Jules Jany of Switzerland.
The Quiet Nest palace and its park and estate near Balchik is situated in the lowland and it huddles amidst three steep shores, which makes it inaccessible for winds. To the south it borders on the sea. This heavenly Bulgarian corner is lavishly endowed with age old trees, writing shrubs, delicate flowers, an abundance of water, cool and heat.
For today’s visitors the tour around the secret places of the Palace is real adventure. The entrance is two-storey building with bay windows, resembling a triumphal arch, with a hollow basement, trough which the palace is entered. Place for the guards had been delved to the right and the left of the entrances well as in the very stone walls, which are rounded on tops. Here the guards, dressed in uniforms, kept watch round the clock, motionless and speechless like statues. Here begins a shady alley, which takes us to the Bridge of Sighs, from where the river’s waters rush into a nine-meter-high precipice. BalchikNearby is Peshterata (the Cave) villa: an ancient water mill converted into a place for rest. Going up the stone staircase we reach the “Villa Suite” build in Mauritanian style – one of the highest points of the estate. Ancient Thracian amphorae and Christian tombstones are spread all over the park, as a reminder of time’s eternity – a material expression of Queen’s desire to amalgamate the religions. The Romanian Queen chose a secluded corner to be her eternal rest – a humble stone grave dominated by a cross, brought over from Bessarabia with a short inscription on it, narrating a life history.
The Palace “Quiet Nest” is a modest building constructed upon three terraces combines elements of the Moor style, the Mediterranean architecture and the typical Bulgarian house. The extravagant minaret renders a touch of oriental opulence to the building.
The alley starting from here reaches as far east as the second bridge, a copy of the “Bridge of Sighs” just over the bridled waterfall waters. This is the best place to watch the beauty of the falling water, the greenery of the beach and the villa of the prince Nikolai – Marie’s younger son. Trough this bridge one enters the another flower garden. In the name of beauty here flowers and trees from the Mediterranean islands, the Pacific Ocean, the Black Sea, South Asia and America coexist side by side.
BalchikFinal emotional accent of this walk is the chapel built of local stone. A tiny yard with fountain and Christian tombstones accomplishes the exterior. While the chapel was still under construction, the Romanian Queen expressed her wish her heart to be rested in here.
Southeast of the temple is the Gethsemane garden planted with dwarfish trees and bushes. Beyond the Prince’s villa is the Allah’s Garden, hosting a unique collection of cactus plants. Ancient pots, stone benches, and slender cypresses outline the contours of this cactus domain.
The exit from the Allah’s Garden is a three-vaulted chapel-like building. Queen Maria liked the seclusion of this place after her walks in the park.
This is the last romantic spot of the Quiet Nest Palace, which has outlived with many decades its mistress to convey a message of beauty to today’s visitors and to tell about the summer dream of a queen.