(also Rodopi og Rhodopi)
RHODOPE is the largest mountain chain in Bulgaria, spanning one seventh of the territory of the country. The mountains is situated in the Southern part of Bulgaria and the southernmost part of it is situated on the territory of Greece. The highest peak is Golyam Perelik (2191m). The name of the mountains has a Thracian origin. The Thracian tribes inhabited the Rhodopi centuries on end. Around the mountains there are lots of remains of their culture, such as megaliths and sanctuaries. In geomorphological aspect the Rhodopi are the oldest range in Bulgaria. The mountains can be divided in Eastern and Western Rhodopi. The two mountains are very different from each other. The Western part is much higher and the climate is mostly mountainous. The Eastern part has low mountainous and hill relief, where the average altitude is only 230 m. The climate is very mild during the winter and very hot in the summer. A significant part of Bulgaria`s hydropower resources is concentrated in the Western part of the mountain range.
There are more than 50 huts in Rhodopi Mountains. Unfortunately, some of them are closed down altogether. Others are open in the warm period of the year. Lots of hiking and walking trails are crossing the Eastern and Western part of the mountains. But only the most popular are very well marked. During most of the hikes it is not very difficult to get lost. The Rhodopi Mountains are suitable for differently experienced hikers. You can either make short walks around some of the villages or hike many days in line for more than 6-7 hours per day. In any case the walking trails here are easier compared to Rila and Pirin, providing good opportunities for easy to moderate difficulty hikes.
The parts of the mountains close to the border with Greece had a very limited access during the communists´ times and now they slightly reveal their secrets and traditions. And they are unique. The most visited is the region between the villages of Orehovo, Trigrad and Smolyan.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
Wonderful bridges (Chudnite Mostove)
A beautiful natural phenomenon which consists of two enormous rocky bridges formed by the erosive activity of the water.
You can pay a visit to several unique caves such as “Bach Kiro”, “Yagodina”, “The Devil´s Throat”, “Snezhanka”. Legend says that this is where Orpheus started his descent into the underworld kingdom of Hades in order to save his beloved Eurydice.
Two wonderful gorges are situated in the western part of the mountains – Buynovo and Trigrad Zhdrelo.
The second biggest monastery in the country
Leshten, Kovachevitsa and Dolen
Three small villages in Western Rhodopi with cozy preserved old houses from the 18th and 19th centuries and cobblestone streets.
Devin and the village of Ognyanovo
Famous for their mineral springs and are desired SPA destinations.
The Devil´s Bridge
This impressive work of art and architecture was built above Arda river at the beginning of the 16th century at the order of the Ottoman sultan. Almost everything about it is shrouded in mystery. There are no historical records about its construction but according to legend, it was built by the Bulgarian mason Dimitar from a nearby village. He struck a deal with the Satan who promised him to tell a secret that would make his work eternal if he managed to finish the construction in 40 days. If he didn’t succeed the Satan would take his soul. Dimitar managed to complete the tsk in record time and the Satan kept his promise. Unfortunately the skillful builder died short after taking his secret knowledge to his grave. People say that if you stood at the bridge between 11.00 and 12.00 at noon and looked at the river's waters, you would be able to see Satan's face.