As the summer heat is turning into a heavy burden, we are all looking for those get away weekends, when we can escape from the city and enjoy a beautiful change of scenery. As many of my friends are rushing to the Bulgarian or Greek seaside, I gathered a bunch of friends for a weekend of adventures in the ancient Rhodope Mountains.
The mysterious Rhodope Mountains (or Rhodopes, as locals call them) have been fascinating travelers from all around the world for many centuries now. The mountains got their name from the Thrace tribes, who used to live in the area. According to some legends, Rhodope was a beautiful girl, so gorgeous, that the gods themselves fought for her. Hermes was particularly determined to keep her for himself, so he created a stone wall around her. When the wall failed to guard her from the other gods, he got jealous and turned her into stone and that is how the mountains formed. Regardless of the strange moral of the legend, the Rhodopes are filled with, beautiful mountain roads, leading to breathtaking sights, ancient mysterious caves and cute little villages, where time seems to have stopped 100 years ago. Here are the highlights of our weekend road trip adventure in the Rhodopes!
Located only 220 km from Sofia, those epic stone arches look like they came straight out of Tolkien’s novels. The 2 bridges were formed by a huge river, that used to flow beneath them and could be explored by visitors by both climbing on top of them or going under them. There is a zip line from one of the bridges, that goes under the other and opens an amazing view of the whole area, for the more adventurous out there.
One night in Shiroka Laka
To be honest, I had little expectations from Shiroka Laka, however I fell absolutely and unconditionally in love with this little cute village, situated 16 km away from the ski resort Pamporovo. Shiroka Laka, which literally translates to “wide meander” (how poetic), is a folklore reserve, that has managed to capture the authentic architecture, typical for that region. We were fascinated to find out, that some of those houses are currently hotels or guest houses. We spent one magical evening in what felt like an ethnographic museum, grasping every moment of it and trying to imagine the lifestyle of the people who lived there 100 years ago.
The eagles’ perspective
The highlight of our trip was the spectacular view from the Eagle Eye’s platform, build on a mount near the Yagodina Cave (which we also payed a visit to on our way). It is absolutely impossible to get there by car, however, the locals provide buggy rides, which could be defined as quite extreme, given the conditions of the paths. However, the view from the platform could hardly be described with words. It is a strange mixture of feelings: freedom, to stare into the distance, without being able to see anything but mountains, dizziness from the thin air, but mostly a feeling of deep admiration towards the nature and its majestic beauty.
The Rodhope Mountains have definitely enchanted me with their ancient wonders and mesmerizing views. If you are a traveler, who appreciates amazing natural phenomenon, cute frozen in time villages, mountain meadow, soaked up with the tantalizing aroma of wild herbs and breathtaking scenery, the Rodhopes are a must see on you traveler’s list!