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Balchik is a town, located in an inlet on the northern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea, 31km away from Varna. Its population is about 14 000 people and it had a harbour used for commercial and passenger vessels. The area can be easily explored with a hired vehicle – the distance to Varna airport is 43 kilometers, Burgas stands about 160 kilometers away, and the capital is 489 km west. The area was first inhabited in the 5th century B.C. and was called Kmuni or Krounoi, due to its many karst springs. Later, it was renamed Dionisopolis (after the Greek god of wine). During the 13-14th century, the town was renamed to Dzhina Bair and turned into a fortification. After the Balkan War (1913), Balchik ended up as a town in Romania and the Romanian Queen Maria built a summer palace, a botanical garden, a chapel and a villa there in honour of the beauty of the place. The town became a well-known resort and after 1940 it was again declared a Bulgarian town. The main attraction here is the palace, with its stunning botanical gardens, a couple of kilometres down the coast, and there are a couple of small museums to muse over. Although it’s an easy day trip from Varna, Balchik makes a great base from which to explore attractions in the countryside, such as Dobrich and Kaliakra Cape, as well as the beach resorts to the south.