Сапарева баня in Bulgarian
A town (population ca. 4.500)in southwestern Bulgaria, part of Kyustendil Province. It is located at the north foot of the Rila mountain 15 km east of Dupnitsa. The town is known for its hot mineral (103 °C) (217 °F) and clear mountain water, as well as the geyser in the town center that sprang forth in 1957.
Sapareva Banya is mainly famous for his mineral water. Mineral water of Sapareva Banya was highly regarded and used as a cure by Thracians and Romans. Saparevian mineral water is clear, colourless, with smell of hydrogen sulphide, hyperthermal (temperature 103 °C), hydro carbonate, sulphate-sodium, fluorine, silicon and sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is 15,5 mg / L. It is claimed that the water treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and upper respiratory tract, and metal poisoning.You can’t leave Sapareva Banya without being at least to one of the many mineral water pools in town.
The most important touristic attraction in the area (and probably in Bulgaria) is of course the Rila or Rilski Monastery (official name is The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila). The monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, 117 km (73 mi) south of the capital Sofia (71 km south of Sapareva Banya) in the deep valley of the Rilska River ("Rila River") at an elevation of 1,147 m (3,763 ft) above sea level, inside of Rila Monastery Nature park. The monastery is named after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 - 946 AD), and houses around 60 monks.
Founded in the 10th century, the Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgaria and Southern Europe. In 2015 alone, it attracted around 1 million visitors. The monastery is depicted on the reverse of the 1-lev banknote, issued in 1999. The whole complex occupies an area of 8,800 m² and is rectangular in form, centered on the inner yard (3,200 m²), where the tower and the main church are situated.
Close to Sapareva Banya you can also find a smaller, but very nice monastery. The name of the monastery is Resilovsky Monastery (The Protection of the Holy Virgin Monastery) close to the small town Ovchartsi (4,5km southwest from Sapareva Banya). In Ovchartsi itself (a bit south of the town) there is a nice walk to a waterfall with the name Gorcia(in Bulgarian Водопад Горица). This is an easy walk from around 20 minutes (one way) true the forest.
The Rila Mountains (Рилаin Bulgarian) is the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula. It is situated in southwestern Bulgaria and forms part of the Rila–Rhodope Massif. The highest summit is Musala at an altitude of 2,925 meter which makes Rila the sixth highest mountain range in Europe after the Caucasus, the Alps, Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Mount Etna, and the highest one between the Alps and the Caucasus. It spans a territory of 2,629 km2 with an average altitude of 1487 meter. In the mountain range you will find more than 200 glacial lakes.
One of the most well-known hikes in the Rila Mountains is the “seven lakes hike”. Via road number 6206 you will drive to the chairlift (named “The lift to the 7 Rila Lakes”) who will bring you to the start of the hike. The chairlift takes round 25 minutes (one way). Please be aware of the weather and mountains conditions. In the late spring or early autumn, it is possible that there will be snow around the lakes. Please always ask for information about the weather/mountain conditions before you start the tour. Bring extra clothes and food/drinks.
Summers are warm and sunny. In summer, it generally remains a bit cooler than other parts of Bulgaria, due to its higher altitude. Average temperature May, June and September are around 24c, in July and August around 28c. July and August have around 250 hours of sunshine per month, which means around 10 hours per day average.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
Spend a day or at least half a day in one of the mineral pools or Spa complexes. The water is warm and works very well for tired muscles after a long nice walk/hike in the Rila mountains. You will feel very well after a few hours in the warm water pool.
Chair Lift and hike to the 7 Rila Lakes
Take the chair lift to the 7 Rila lakes and have a fantastic hike. You don’t have to do the whole circle, but after ca. 30 minutes walking you can already see the first lake. Where the chairlift stops, there is a nice hut (Rila Lakes Chalet) for a cup of coffee, a lunch or even an overnight is here possible. They have great soup, our tip!
Rila or Rilski Monastery
This is absolute a must see in Bulgaria. You will spend most probably 5-6 hours minimum for the drive to and from, the sight-seeing in and around the monastery and a nice lunch behind the monastery in one of the restaurants.
Resilovsky Monastery together with Gorcia waterfall in Ovchartsi
Just a few minutes driving from Sapareva Banya you will find the nice walk to the waterfall Gorcia. Easy walk through the forest, a bit up to the nice few. When returning from the waterfall, drive true Ovchartsi (opposite direction from Sapareva Banya) and after 2-3km you will find an exit on the left side of the road to the monastery.