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Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria - amazing nature and history
The Rhodope Mountains have a rich history that spans from ancient times to the medieval period, and these sites offer a glimpse into the region's past and its historical significance. The landscape is real fascinating, but there are also plenty of hidden gems here to be explored. The mountains were calling so we had go!
The Rhodope Mountains, located in southeastern Europe, primarily in Bulgaria and partially in Greece, are rich in history and ancient sites. On our tour to Rhodope Mountains, we started from Bulgaria`s second largest city Plovdiv and passed the pretty town of Asenovgrad on our way.
On this beautifully sunny day on Friday 13th October 2023, we enjoyed panoramic views of the mountain scenery. Our first stop was at the fortress remains of King Ivan Asen, a wise ruler of the 2nd Bulgarian Kingdom. Here we learned why the fortress gained importance in the Middle Ages, and how it was conquered by the armies of the Third Crusade. wE explore the ruins of the fortress walls, towers, and gates, and marvel got breathtaking views of the Rhodope Mountains and the surrounding countryside. The fortress is located at an elevation of 279 meters above sea level. The climb to the top was steep and little bit challenging, but the views were well worth the efforts.
Here we could admire the 13th-century Church of the Holy Mother of God, historic iconography and ferscoes. could walk, climb and explore the amazing
Asen's Fortress is a medieval fortress situated in the Rhodope Mountains near the town of Asenovgrad. It dates back to the 13th century and played a significant role in the medieval history of Bulgaria. It served as a defensive stronghold against invasions and attacks, particularly during the rule of Tsar Ivan Asen II. The site includes defensive walls, towers, and a church. The church, known as the Church h of the Holy Mother of God, is a notable architectural feature and contains preserved frescoes from the 14th century.
Next, head to picturesque Bachkovo Monastery deeper in the mountains. Founded in 1083, and one of the most sacred places in Bulgarian history, the monastery’s main church contains a valuable icon of the Virgin Mary from 11-th century that, according to legend, can work miracles. Admire the exterior of the 12th-century bysantine style Church of the Archangels.
Admire the stunning mural on the outside wall of the refectory, representing a bird’s eye view of the monastery and the surrounding buildings. This is the largest panoramic mural of Bulgaria, painted in the middle of the 19-th sentury.
Our monastery complex tour ended at the Church of Saint Nikola, built between 1834 and 1837. There we enjoyed the impressive Doomsday frescoe in the narthex of the church.
Bachkovo Monastery: Although not strictly an ancient site, Bachkovo Monastery is a historic Eastern Orthodox monastery located in the Rhodopes. It was founded in the 11th century and is one of the oldest monasteries in Bulgaria, known for its stunning architecture and beautiful frescoes.
It was connected with three cultures: Byzantine, old Georgean and Bulgarian. It has preserved unique and highly valuable monuments of architecture and painting, typical of Eastern Orthodox culture.
Our experience the natural beauty, historical and cultural heritage of the Rhodope. If you're searching for new horizons and inspiring panoramic views, the Pocono Mountains is a great place to find them! Find refreshment and peace of mind as you gaze over rolling hills stretching out as far as the eye can see, rivers winding across the landscape, and rocky cliffs framing your view. Gazing down on the world from a mountaintop can offer new perspectives in more ways than one!
Stein Morten Lund, 21st October 2023
Additional information There are several kind of guiding tours into the mountains. One of them is with the excellent guide Kamen, who we used on our tour. From Plovdiv: Bachkovo Monastery & Asen’s Fortress Tour.
The Rhodopes are a mountain range in Southeastern Europe, and the largest by area in Bulgaria, with over 83% of its area in the southern part of the country and the remainder in Greece (source: Wikipedia).