Bulgarians have a distinctive style of singing. Songs are usually performed by women, and the sound is strong and focused. Singers make each performance unique by varying the musical ornamentation when they sing. The rhythms of Bulgarian music are very complex. Bulgarians have songs for weddings, harvesting, and grape-picking, as well as for Christmas and Easter. Some songs are sung as solos, but groups of singers may sing in harmony, or even sing two different songs at the same time. Recordings of the Women's Choir of RTV Bulgaria are sold around the world.
Bulgarian folk costumes are elaborately decorated. Both women and men wear full, white shirts. Women wear embroidered bodices over richly ornamented skirts. Colours, textiles and details signify age, marital status and regional origin. For example, the hair of unmarried girls can be shown, while the hair of married women is concealed. A white outer garment is compulsory for young married women, but unmarried women do not wear it.

Bulgarian literature flourished during the 19th century when the first printing house was established. The most popular themes related to national independence. The most well-known author from this time, Hristo Botev (1848-76), wrote in support of Bulgarian independence. His poems reflect the complicated rhythms of Bulgarian folk music.

Well-known post-liberation writers include novelist and playwright Ivan Vazov (1850-1921), philosopher Stoyan Mikhaylovski (1856-1927), satirist Aleko Konstantinov (1890-1970), and short story writers Elin Pelin (1878-1949) and Yordan Yovkov (1880-1937). These writers helped to shape the Bulgarian language. During the communist period, the state suppressed freedom of speech. Georgi Markov (1929-78) left Bulgaria to work in England, where he wrote an autobiographical book called The Truth that Killed.
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A popular Rhodope folksong, "Izlel e Delyu Haidutin," sung by Valya Balkanska, was recorded on a gold record and sent as a message to outer space on the American spacecraft Voyager in 1977.

Modern writers include the novelist Viktor Paskov (Ballad for George Henig) and poet and novelist Blaga Dimitrova (Because the Sea is Black). Dimitrova served as vice-president of Bulgaria from 1992 to 1994.

Throughout the country, elaborately decorated churches and monasteries preserve a wealth of Bulgarian art. Bulgarians take great pride in the 11th- and 12th- century murals in the Boyana Church near Sofia. Murals from the 19th century National Revival period cover the walls of the Rila Monastery. The huge Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church in Sofia, with its gold domes and ornate interior, was built in 1912 to celebrate the liberation from Ottoman rule.