During this four-day itinerary, you will explore the unique Rhodope Mountain stone villages, outstanding samples of the typical Bulgarian Renaissance architecture. In some of them still live families and lonely old people. Some of the houses are dilapidated, but many have been sufficiently maintained. Typical are the narrow, cobblestoned streets, churches and other public buildings in their authentic appearance, filling 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. On the way back to Sofia, you can also stop in Rupite, Razlog and Yundola, where you can buy authentic local products from one of the Rhodope Mountains’ largest markets.
The Rhodope Mountain villages are an example of typical Bulgarian Renaissance architecture. All of these villages are architectural reserves. Each Rhodopes house has its unique face, its distinctive features and, at the same time, delivers a similar architecture to the neighbouring one.
Rhodope Mountain houses’ external walls on all the floors are made of stone, except the last bed’s southern side. A typical characteristic of the Rhodope house is the empty space on the ground floor. Animals, firewood and agricultural tools are kept there. Ceilings are adorned by a stuck geometrical decoration and often are coloured. The chimneys are also very interesting, grouped in two, interconnected by a stone slab.
The stone slabs cannot be compared to any modern high-tech options designed specifically for this use.
Type: four days exploring the Rhodope Mountain Stone Villages by car;
Duration: 4 nights/5 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: approximately 900 km;
Price: please, take a look at the three options we offer below;
A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ITINERARY
The first morning of your journey, head out to 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.
Continue to Dolen, the first in the series of stone villages aimed at this program. The small settlement is declared an architectural reserve because of the unique Rhodope stone houses with uniquely shaped chimneys and cobblestoned alleys winding between them. Many of the homes 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 its ceiling’s planking and frescoes painted on them. Locals say that the church is miraculous.
After breakfast in the hotel, head for Leshten. In the early age of the 20th century, Leshten was a busy village with more than 500 inhabitants, most non-Muslim. Nowadays, there are only a few local permanent inhabitants, but many 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 and have 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.
Afterwards, set out 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 fascinating because of the lively activity along the main street. Unlike towns with a primarily Christian composition, villages with heavy Muslim populations are full of life as people rarely leave them to settle in big cities.
At the end of the road is the village of Kovachevitsa. The architecture of the houses in Kovachevica is original and unparalleled. Most of them were built in the second half of the 19th century, but new ones were constructed in the same style. The village was pronounced “Architectural and Historical Reserve of National Importance” in 1977. Many Bulgarian movies have been filmed here.
Ribnovo is a Pomak village, one of the few in Bulgaria, where tens of houses are being built every year. Some of Bulgaria’s most remarkable weddings are made here, mostly in the wintertime, when everyone gets back home from work abroad.
In the evening, drive back to Gotse Delchev.
After breakfast, continue westward to 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 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 and steep, which further contributes to the village’s bewitching atmosphere.
The next stop would be Rupite, for which the famous Bulgarian soothsayer Vanga said that was burdened with a unique energy. She spent here the last years of her lifetime. In 1994 the temple “St. Petka Balgarska” was built near 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, drive to the town of Razlog.
After breakfast, head 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, 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; accommodation; pick up and drop off from your hotel/accommodation; transportation by A/C vehicle, fuel and parking expenses; 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.
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Discounts: We offer 20% discount voucher for next service;
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