Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Byala Cherkva - a little piece of heaven in the Rhodope Mountain

If I was not born and grown up in Plovdiv, I wouldn't probably have heard about Byala Cherkva (meaning White Church). It is not very popular resort not only for foreigners but for Bulgarians too. I believe I'm lucky to be born here, so close to the lovely Rhodopes.
Together with Studenets and Zdravets resort (or chatel Zdravets or Zdravets hut) it is a popular destination for Plovdiv people to escape from the big city in the weekend.
View from the hill above Byala Cherkva
Byala Cherkva is located 1600m altitude and about 36 km south from Plovdiv. From the ring road of Plovdiv you can either take the road to Markovo or Belashtitsa. Both ways gets together at Galabovo village. The resort is at the end of the road.
You better go by car as buses are running only to Zdravets(7.50am and 2.30pm from Rhodopi bus station). If you go by bus you need to walk then about 2-2.5 hours. The walk is pleasant but it takes time and really depends on your plans.

The resort is really strange when we're talking about accommodation as there is no such. Well, there is something like a hut but I have no idea what the conditions are inside. Last time we were there we saw a group of people in the yard,drinking coffee but the hut didn't look good. There are more hotels and rest houses in Zdravets and Studenets. Two of the options are hotel Transing or Eco hotel Zdravets.
Camping is a wonderful decision for accommodation. Be prepared with warm clothes as in the night it is getting really cold - could reach 5-6 degrees in July.

What to do
This is the best part when we forget about the other things. In winter in Byala Cherkva you can enjoy skiing. There is a ski slope 1100m length. It is seperated on 2 parts and is suitable for both - beginners and advanced skiers. Also there is a 300m ski slope for kids. A ski run is working up to April.

Herb mashterka (thymus)
In summer time the main activity is hiking. And it is a real pleasure. You can collect herbs,blackberries and blueberries or just enjoy the sun. The weather is great - about 10-15 degrees less than the hotness in the city.
Byala Cherkva is a cross of hiking routes going to the nearby villages through the mountain - Sitovo, Lilkovo, Boykovo, Kosovo. One of the routes to Persenk peak(a beautiful Rhodope peak) is going through the resort and it is panoramic most of the time. It takes about 4.5 hours to Peresnk hut and 1.5 hours more to reach the peak. Amazing views are discovered to the whole mountain - you can see some of the villages on the main road Plovdiv - Smolyan and even Snejanka peak with its tower nearby Pamporovo resort.

Just at the end of the road you could find stables Stela. They offer horse riding routes through the mountain. And I think they offer also accomodation but you have to contact them and ask. The stables are situated just next to the monastery St.St. Peter and Paul, the highest  monastary in Bulgaria. The church is recovered but the other buildings are still under constuction.

The stables, photo by: Stables Stella
If you happen to stay in Plovdiv don't miss to do a day trip to Byala Cherkva. You'll be fascinated of the mountain beauty, I promise.
Enjoy some of the stunning views:

Pavelsko village