Mandritsa is known as the only Albanian village in Bulgaria. Today Mandritsa has a population of about 50 people, part of whom still speaks Albanian.
A local legend says that the village was founded by three Orthodox Albanian brothers. They were obliged by Bey Ali Pasha to supply the Ottoman army with milk, meat, and other foodstuffs. For each sheep, they receive one coin. In gratitude for their faithful service, the military leader allowed them to tour the entire Edirne violet to find a suitable place to settle with their families and herds. He promised them as much land as they can walk around the packs from sunrise to sunset. Ali Pasha also issued a decree exempting them from taxes and ensuring that the Turks could not settle on their land. The brothers have built a dairy and determine the name of the village.
Over time, Mandritsa grew, with more and more Albanians emigrating from their homeland. They brought with them their language and culture. They built large adobe houses in the Greek style, in which the animals were housed on the first floor, the silkworms on the second, and the people lived on the third. They have been producing one of Bulgaria’s highest quality silk products, which they also exported.
Of course, they also grow tobacco and sesame, typical in this part of Bulgaria.
In 1708 in Mandritsa was built one of the first churches in the Rhodopes – “St. Sunday. It is a small single-nave building, which is part of the cemetery park to this day. The year of the founding of the village is inscribed on a stone slab. On the tombstones are carved the deceased’s crafts, a symbol of respect for work and contribution to the village. A century later, in 1835, the village church “St. Dimitar” was built. It is a three-aisled pseudo-basilica, made of masonry stone covered with a wooden roof. Eastern influences can be found in its iconostasis.
The settlement reached its heyday at the end of the 19th century with two schools, a kindergarten, 22 sesame oil grinders, and 20 silkworm manufactories. There is even a maternity hospital.
Albanians have preserved their Suliot costume over the years and continue to wear it, speaking Albanian. However, in 1913, they were forced to leave their homes due to persecution in White Sea Thrace (Belomorska Trakia). The Bulgarian government settled the village with Bulgarian refugees from Thrace and Macedonia. In 1929, a new wave of refugees, including Albanians, settled in the area again.
Today, along the Byala Reka (White River) gold-bearing meanders, you can see the typical large houses with carved ceilings. The archaic Albanian language is still preserved and spoken, which creates the feeling of another world.
Every year a fair is organized, which revives the otherwise ghostly village. The new houses are built of typical adobe bricks on the former masonry model, in which Greek and Thracian influences are found. In Bulgaria’s only Albanian village, you can see a unique architecture, combined with local speech, creating the feeling of travelling back in time.
HOW TO GET THERE
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; pick up 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 obtain 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 make the needed reservations 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.
- Accommodation: We coordinate, book and manage all of your selected accommodations. We recommend the best selections at every destination on your trip, including hotels, airbnbs, bed and breakfasts, that fit your tastes, budget and are available during your travel dates. You will find the names of the properties in Final Trip Plan, with connections 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 distant areas. In this example we provide the name of the owner and a telephone number.
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