Four Days Tour Exploring The Stone Villages In The Rhodope And Pirin Mountains 

The main goal of this 4-day program is to have a closer look at Rhodope Mountain stone villages (and one village in Pirin Mountain) – architectural reserves, where beautiful models of the typical Bulgarian Renaissance architecture are well preserved.  In some of them still live lonely people or households. Some of these houses are dilapidated, but many have been sufficiently maintained.  These villages have narrow, small stone streets, natural springs, churches and other public buildings, kept in their authentic appearance, that fill the atmosphere with enchantment.  On this trip, you will travel to the villages of Dolen, Leshten, Kovachevitsa and Pirin. Additionally, you can break in the Pomak villages of Gorno Dryanovo and Ribnovo, which, though not fitting the subject, will contribute to the overall acquaintance with the area and its traditions. Along the way back to Sofia you can also drop in Rupite, Razlog and Yundola, where you can buy authentic local products from one of the largest markets in the Rhodope Mountains.

 

The Rhodope Mountain villages are an example of a typical Bulgarian Renaissance architecture. All of these villages are architectural reserves. Each Rhodopes house has its unique face, its typical features, and, at the same time, delivers a similar architecture to the neighboring one.

The external walls of Rhodope Mountain houses on all the floors are made of stone, except the southern side of the last floor. A typical characteristic of the Rhodope house is the empty space on the ground floor. Animals, firewood and agricultural tools have been kept there. In the larger Rhodope houses a part of this room is broken up for construction of cattle-shed or cellar.

Ceilings are adorned by a stuck geometrical decoration and often are colored. The houses are passed over with stone slabs. The chimneys are also very interesting, grouped in two, interconnected by a stone slab.

The stone slabs are a natural material, that cannot be compared to any modern high-tech options for roof and are designed specifically for this use.

 

BASIC INFORMATION

Duration: 3 nights/4 days;
Places to be visited: Dolen, Leshten, Kovachevitsa and Pirin; additionally the Pomak villages of Gorno Dryanovo and Ribnovo and also Rupite, Razlog and Yundola.
Period of travel: year round;
Tour mileage: ca 900 km;
Price: take a look at the 3 options we offer below;

 

PROGRAM

You depart from Sofia early in the morning towards the town of Dospat in the Rhodope Mountains, where you should arrive around noon.

Here you can try the famous Dospat trout, bred in some of the numerous fish farms around Dospat Reservoir. Local people say that coming to Dospat without eating trout is like visiting Rome without seeing the Pope.

You continue to the village of Dolen, the first in a series of stone villages that are aimed by this program. The small town is declared an architectural reserve because of the unique Rhodope stone houses. Each house has its own specifically shaped chimney, and the streets are covered by stone. Many of the houses are dilapidated, others are subject to intensive renovation, but notwithstanding, here you can feel the spirit of the Bulgarian village of the last century. Church “St. Nichola” is remarkable with the planking of its ceiling, and frescoes painted on them. Locals say that the church is miraculous.

You leave from Sofia early in the morning towards the town of Dospat in the Rhodope Mountains, where you should arrive around noon.

Here you can taste the famous Dospat trout, bred in some of the numerous fish farms around Dospat Reservoir. Local people say that coming to Dospat without eating trout is like going to Rome without seeing the Pope.

We continue to Dolen, the first in a series of stone villages that are targeted by this program. The village is declared an architectural reserve because of the unique Rhodope stone houses. Each house has its own specifically shaped chimney, and the streets are made of stone. Many of the houses are dilapidated, others are subject to intensive renovation, but still, here you can feel the spirit of the Bulgarian village of the last century. Church “St. Nichola” is remarkable with the planking of its ceiling, and frescoes painted on them. Locals say that the church is a miraculous place.

 

After breakfast, you head for the village of Leshten. At the early age of the 20th century Leshten was a busy village with more than 500 inhabitants, most of them non-Muslim. Nowadays there are only a few local permanent inhabitants, but many of the old houses have been restored and renovated as summerhouses or guest houses. They were built in the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in the architectural style typical for this region of the country. Most of the houses have very large terraces, inner courtyards, and their own taverns.

The church “St Paraskeva” was constructed in 1837 and a school, run by the local priest, has been added to it. At present, the church is recognized as an Architectural and Cultural Monument of local importance. The school building has been converted to a restaurant, offering local cuisine and drinks.

Afterward, you set off for Gorno Dryanovo, a picturesque hamlet with a predominantly Muslim population, located about 10 km from Leshten. Even though the village lacks preserved old houses, it is particularly interesting because of the lively activity carrying on along almost the entirety of the main street. Unlike villages with a primarily Christian composition, villages with heavy Muslim populations are full of life as people rarely leave them to live in big cities.

At the end of the route is the village of Kovachevitsa. The architecture of the houses in Kovachevica is original and unparalleled. Most of the houses were built in the second half of the 19th century, but there are also new ones, constructed in the same style. The small town was pronounced “Architectural and Historical Reserve of National Importance” in 1977. Many Bulgarian movies have been shot there.

Ribnovo is completely Pomak village, one of the few in Bulgaria, where every year tens of houses are being built. Some of the most interesting weddings in Bulgaria are made in this village, mostly in the wintertime, when everyone gets back home from work abroad.

In the evening you get back to the town of Gotse Delchev, where you will expend the night.

 

After breakfast you continue westward, under the southerly slopes of Pirin, reaching the authentic village of Pirin.

The village was one of the large centres of medieval ferrous metallurgy in the region. There were 11 furnaces (primitive) and 5 big hammers where about 30 forges for horseshoes, horse-nails, and other agricultural implements had worked. Along the river, clinging one to another, are situated adobe houses. The streets are narrow, steep and small, which further contribute to the bewitching atmosphere of the village.

At noon you will reach Rupite, for which the famous Bulgarian soothsayer Vanga said that was burdened with a special energy. She spent here the last years of her lifetime. In 1994 the temple “St. Petka Balgarska” was built, near to the small house where she dwelled. You can find nearby curative mineral springs and pools, for which many people visit the region. You could stick around longer to bathe in the mineral pools of course.

In the evening, you will arrive in Razlog.

 

After breakfast, you continue to Yakorouda, Yundola and Velingrad. You can stop briefly in these places for the rest, coffee or stroll. In the centre of Yundola there is a big market, where you can buy local dairy products, honey and other products grown in the region.

In the afternoon, you head off back to Sofia.

 

HOW TO USE THIS PROGRAM/ITINERARY

The preparation of a guided tour program/offer is free of charge. You’ll get a package price from us up front, which will include the services of a professionally qualified tour guide; pickup and drop off from your hotel/accommodation; transportation by A/C vehicle, fuel and parking expenses; accommodation, transfers from/to airport and all other additional services you might need.

You will get from us a Final Trip Plan of this tour in both web and pdf formats. Please have a look at sample web version with photos, maps and video here. Please download a sample version of a Final Trip Plan in pdf format here. 

You can use the Final Trip Plan to do the needed bookings and reservations by yourself.

The Final Trip Plan of the trip will contain: a web version of the tour; a pdf version of the tour (see the sample above), а short description (Resume); Basic information about the trip (duration, places to be visited, tour mileage, the period of travel;  а trip budget with detailed expenses table (downloadable pdf file); а Google map with the itinerary and bookmarks for places, hotels and restaurants; а link to a Google Earth interactive map with features like “Street view”, 3D etc; A link to a Google KML file, which can be uploaded to a cell phone and used during the trip; а detailed program day by day with activities and places to be visited, recommendations for accommodation and nice restaurants with links for bookings and reservations;

Additionally to the Final Trip Plan we make all the bookings and reservations on your behalf. We do this through our licensed travel agency “Thousand Voyages” Ltd.

Transportation and logistics: We coordinate, book and manage all the transportation elements of your trip – planes, trains, rent-a-cars, busses… everything to and from your destination, and between various places during your trip. 

Accommodations: We coordinate, book and manage all of your selected accommodations. We recommend the best options at every destination on your trip, including hotels, airbnbs, bed and breakfasts, that fit your tastes, budget and have availability during your travel dates. You will find the names of the properties in Final Trip Plan, with links to the websites or booking forms. Sometimes the chosen by us accommodation is not on booking.com or any other platform, especially those in the remote areas. In this case we provide the name of the owner and a telephone number. 

24/7 emergency support with a dedicated travel consultant: 4/7 Support throughout your journey (SMS, Email, Skype).

Secure Payments upon delivery of services: We offer two options: 1) PayPal – You will receive a PayPal invoice with the total amount to be paid. You can pay using your credit card or PayPal account; 2) A Revolut Business Account (in Euro) (UK) for a bank transfer.
Money Back Guarantee: In the unlikely event that you are not fully satisfied with our services, we offer a 100% money back return policy.
Discounts: We offer 20% discount voucher for next service;

TRAVEL SERVICES, WHICH MIGHT HELP WITH YOUR TRAVEL TO BULGARIA

We would be glad to help you organise this trip. Please use one of the options above. Please also have a look at all the services we offer here in Bulgaria. For your stay in Bulgaria or to organise the trip by yourself, you may wish to use the travel services we recommend and work with, and which you can book by yourself using the links beneath. Of course, you always can contact us at any time, and we will do our best to help.

 

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