The Cyrillic alphabet was initially developed in the First Bulgarian Empire, dating back to the 10th Century AD.

Its name was developed from tradition that the Alphabet was created by Greek brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who brought Christianity to the Southern Slavs. However modern intellectuals argue that the alphabet was created and made popular by Cyril and Methodius´ followers, stating the name does not indicate authorship, but rather homage.

Over time the alphabet adapted to be used to write local languages, and this adaption to the characteristics of the languages, developed it to the modern version we know today.

Cyrillic upper and lowercase letters do not strongly differentiate from each other, there are few differences.

The Cyrillic fonts are very similar to modern day Latin fonts, deriving from the same font families (Roman type, Italic type and Cursive handwriting). The photo below shows the differences between the Roman upright letters and the italic Cyrillic letters.

The name “Cyrillic” often confuses people, as it does not identify a country of Origin, so often is referred to as the Russian alphabet (as Russia is the most influential user of the alphabet), or Bulgarian alphabet (as this is where the alphabet was first created).

The alphabet is used in various langauages in Eastern Europe and Asia, especially of Slavic origin:

Serbo-Croation (Serbia, Montenegrin, & sometimes Bosnian)
and also non-slavic languages that are influenced by Russian:

Kildin Sami

In January 2007, Bulgaria joined the European Union, this meaning the Cyrillic alphabet became the Third Official alphabet of the EU, following the Greek and Latin. This meaning that the Cyrillic alphabet was to be featured on the Euro banknote and the national side of the Bulgarian euro coin (which is expected to launch in 2013-14, as the current Bulgarian currency is the Lev).

If you are planning to visit Bulgaria, it would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Cyrillic alphabet. Many road signs, shops, transport stations, posters, etc will be written in Cyrillic, especially in smaller, rural towns.

McDonalds in the Cyrillic Alphabet

Modern and high tourist population areas of Bulgaria, like Sofia and Varna, will also have signs written in English. These areas will often have a larger English speaking population, children are taught English as a subject in school. Also since the integration of Bulgaria into the EU, there are International road signs.

There are also many resorts along the Black Sea Coast catering for international travelers, such as Sunny Beach and Varna. Here you will find English speaking staff, as it is expected of them.