Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Exploring The Eastern Rhodopes

Living so close to Rhodopi mountain I've been there many times but mostly in the Central,Sounth and West parts in Bulgaria. I know pretty well the regions around Assenovgrad and Smolyan but I had never been in the Eastern part of the mountain. It was in late spring when we finally decided to take a trip and knowing more about that area.

Our day started early in a Saturday morning and soon we found ourselves on the route Assenovgrad - Kardzhali. The road was OK with turns from time to time,sometimes more frequently,other times it was a straight mountain way. Trees were green and the sun was creeping along the branches,just so beautiful and warm.Our first aim was the sactuary above Tatul,a village 30km south from Kardzhali.In the last ten years archeologists found a Thracian tomb and a sactuary on a hill that belong to an important leader. Even it is believed it could be the tomb of Orpheus but it is still a hypothesis.The feeling on that hill,watching the green beauties of the mountain is indescribable especially on such a holly place for the Thracians.

Then we came back to Kardzhali where we visited the History museum.It is located in an interesting building from the beginnig of the last century. The museum has 3 departments situated on the 3 floors - Archeology(exponants from Neolithic to the Middle ages),Nature(minerals founded in the region) and Ethnography(showing people's life of the area around in the last 2 centuries).

Our next stop was 5 km east of the city,just after Zimzelen village at the "Stone wedding". This is one of the most interesting rock phenomenons I've ever seen.Some stones look like human figures. There is a legend telling a story: in the past no one should have seen the bride’s face during the wedding and if somebody sees it, The Gods turned him into stone. On this wedding there was a strong wind which blew away the bridal veil and everybody saw her face. Therefore, they all were turned into stones.
For the second time that day I just loved the nature around.

It was already 3 o'clock and it was time to proceed to the next place in our plan,to wit Perperikon. It has been an ancient Thracian city that has been inhabited around 5000 years BC. Also Perperikon is the largest megalith ensemble in the Balkans. 
There is a parking area at the foot of the hill and then it's about 20 min walking to othe top.(Be careful to take comfortable shoes cause there are steep rocks to climb especially when you're already on the top).We were lucky to follow a group of students and there were inreresting things we learnt from their guide.

After 2 hours of walking,watching,exploring and sighing we were on the road to Haskovo.We passed around 15km and stopped by the amazing stones we saw - The Stone Mushrooms,another rock phenomenon.They really look like mashrooms,2 meter high and it is amazing how they're thrown in the fields.We made some photos under the setting sun.

Already in Haskovo we were starving because we haven't eaten anything after the breakfast.The truth is that we even haven't thought about eating - we were so excited of what we were seeing  during the whole day.We found a restaurant where we had some tasty food and soon after that we were already in Plovdiv. It was a long great day. 
I am still wondering how it is possible to see so many beautiful places at a distance of no more than 30km. And is it accidentally that rock phenomenos and Thracian tombs and cities are so close to each other?

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