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The Rhodopes
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The Rhodopes are a mountain range in Southeastern Europe, with over 83% of its area in southern Bulgaria and the remainder in Greece. Its highest peak, Golyam Perelik (2,191 m), is the seventh highest Bulgarian mountain. The region is particularly notable for the Karst areas with their deep river gorges, large caves and specific sculptured forms, such as the Trigrad Gorge.

Shiroka Luka
The village is built amphitheatrically in a narrow and steep valley of the Shirokolashka river. Walking along the winding narrow-pebbled streets one suddenly finds oneself taken several centuries back in the Bulgarian Renaissance period. The settlement has existed since the 17th century. Numerous houses preserving the typical Rhodopean architecture, typical speech, songs and customs of local people have given the village of Shiroka Luka the status of an architectural, ethnographic and folklore reserve. Stockbreeding was very popular among the population in the past, and there were also many talented builders. The most impressive building is the Sgurov Konak, which now hosts the Ethnographic Museum. The three vaulted bridges over the Shirokolushka River, preserved since Roman time, give the village a special atmosphere. Another local monument is the Ouspenie Bogorodichno Church (Holy Assumption) built in 1834 for less than 38 days. The church has an impressive external and internal architecture. Next to it stands Shiroka Lukas old school built in 1835. The village hosts a unique Folklore Music High School. Several private lodgings and small hotels are available, equipped with every necessary accommodation for a delightful vacation.

Momchilovtzi is another local village, located high in the mountain. The hospitable home owners of will welcome you cordially, organize some guided tours for you and introduce to the local traditional works such as wood-carving and looming or invite you to taste local cuisine.

Scattered among 5 different hamlets and has preserved the authenticity of a real Rhodopean village and the Bulgarian national traditions and culture, the village of Stoykite attracts thousand of tourists and offers wonderful opportunities for rest and recreation in the atmosphere of the long past times.Located in the skirts of the mountain it also offers marvelous panoramas of the ridge of Chernatitza and the peaks of Murgavetz, Perelik, and Karluk.If you want to come closer to the traditional Bulgarian spirit, to live for a while far from the urban vanity and bustle, to wake up in the morning with the ringing of cow-bells and the cock-a-doodle-do of cocks, then you should go to the Stoykite village. A real open air museum.

The village of Gela is situated below the highest Rhodope peak - Goliam Perelik (2191 m.). Such a marvelous sight can rarely be found anywhere . Numerous peaks follow one another in a row, surrounded by amazing lawns, spotted with orchids, violets and autumn bells. Gela is one of the most ancient settlements in the Rhodopes, also known as the sanctuary of Dionysius and the birthplace of the mythical singer Orpheus.Today the village hosts the ruins of an old monastery and two ancient churches. All kinds of accommodations are available in the village - nice private lodgings and small family hotels. Every year during the first Sunday of August the traditional Illinden Festival (music contest for the best bag pipe player) takes place in Gela.

The small picturesque village is situated below the Perelik Peak, some 4 km away from Shiroka Luka. The ruins of an ancient monastery complex lie near by. From the yard of the church St. Nedelya one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the fortress and the peak Turlata. The natural site "Chernoka", characterized with its 300-year-old Black pine trees forest is a few minutes away from the village.
The village of Trigrad is situated in the Western Rhodope Mountains 26 km south of the town of Devin , and 40 km west of the town of Smolyan.The numerous remains found in cave dwellings from the Copper-stone Age, as well as from the Thracian period show the old origin of the village. The village is believed to be composed of 3 smaller settlements and thats why is called Trigrad (three settlements). The Muslim and Christian culture and traditions have become interwoven in the village. Along with the small Church Tsar Boris The Baptist, you can see a small mosque.
More than 200 cave dwellings are located in the region of Trigrad over. The abyss cave called Dyavolsko Gurlo (The Devils Throat), one of the phenomena of the Trigrad Gorge, is only 1.3 km north of the village. The Yagodinska cave is another unique landmark. It is the longest cave in the Rhodope Mountains, situated 8 km from the village. The picturesque place of Chairite is 19 km to the east. Seven natural landslide lakes, which are here since the Quaternary period, add to the specific charm of the nature in this part of the Rhodopes.

Monday, May 03, 2010
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