The nformation below has been taken from:-www.picturesofbulgaria.com
Blessed with hot summers and a beautiful coastline, and winter ski slopes covered with snow from December until late March, Bulgaria is the ultimate destination for all seasons!
Area: 110,994 sq. km.
Population: 7,537,929 (July 2003)
Capital city: Sofia - 1,114,476 inhabitants
Major cities: Plovdiv ,Varna, Burgas, Rousse.
Time: GMT + 2 hours
Located in South Central Europe, Bulgaria occupies the central part of Balkan Peninsula and it is surrounded by the Black Sea to the east, Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west and Greece and Turkey to the south.
More than half of Bulgaria is hilly or mountainous, its average elevation being about 480 metres.
South and south east Bulgaria is dominated by the high peaks of Rila and Pirin mountain ranges still covered with snow even during the hot summer days. Virgin forests and lakes attract tourists all year round.
The rural Northwest is dotted with beautiful villages hidden in the mountains and offering peace and tranquillity at very low prices.
Vitosha, Sredna Gora, Rhodopes and Strandja mountains are still waiting to be discovered by foreigners as each of them is unique with its nature and its beauty.
The great Balkan Mountains stretch from the northwest corner to the Black sea, where the 380km of wonderful coastline is littered with friendly bays and unspoiled sandy beaches.
Because of its location Bulgarian enjoys long hot summers with cold and snowy winters. The summer temperature averages around 28C/82F. Spring and autumn are mild, and even early November can be extremely pleasant with temperatures around 15-20C/70F.
The Black Sea coast averages nearly 300 days of sunshine annually, and the winter temperatures are seldom below zero due to the warming effect of the sea. Inland Bulgaria experiences typical cold continental winters and the skiing conditions in the mountains are very good from December to April.
Bulgarian is the official language. Other spoken languages are English, German, Russian and Turkish.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the official religion for the majority of the Bulgarian population. There is also a significant Muslim minority and small Roman Catholic and Jewish communities.
Airports and flights
There are three airports in Bulgaria: Sofia, Varna and Burgas.
Bulgarian Air and British Airways have direct flights from the UK all year round. A flight to Bulgaria from the UK lasts around three hours.
During the peak summer season there are many charter flight to Varna and Burgas.
The prices could vary but one should expect to pay no more than £240 for a return flight including all airport taxes.
All flights can be booked through local UK travel agents or the Internet.
Due to its location and its diverse climate Bulgaria is a desirable destination the whole year around and tourism is one of the key sectors of Bulgarian economy.
The Black Sea coast with its sandy and unspoiled beaches attracts many tourists during the summer period.
Bulgarian mountains offer the best value for money for ski sports in Europe. The ski resorts of Pamporovo, Borovets and Bansko with snow from Christmas to Easter offer exceptionally good value for money for those who enjoy winter sports. The Rhodopes, Vitosha and the Balkan Mountains also offer wonderful possibilities for skiing and mountain tourism.
Bulgaria has more than 600 mineral springs and the spa resorts are attracting tourists from around the world.
In Bulgaria there are around 30,000 historical monuments from ancient and medieval time, 36 nature conservation areas, more than 350 museums and galleries. A special attention is paid to the traditional crafts and centres like Chprovtzi and Elena are famous for their traditional craftsmanship.
The World Tourist Organisation placed Bulgaria near the top in terms of tourism growth. In 2003 growth increased by 23% compared to 2002 and comprised 13 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. The number of European Union tourists grew by 25 per cent to 1.6 million in 2003 and this increased significantly in 2004 with a sizeable proportion made up by British tourists. Bulgaria is regaining popularity with Eastern Europeans; Russian, Polish and Czech tourists enjoy the hospitality of Bulgarian sea and ski resorts.
Due to the increasing popularity of the Bulgarian internationally recognised ski resorts, and during the last ski season, there was a shortage of accommodation in Bansko, Borovetz and Pamporovo. The same applies to the Black Sea resorts of Bulgaria. This has lead to an increase in the holiday rental market which in turn has fuelled the buy-to-let property market in these key areas.
Bulgaria is a Democratic Republic; since 1990. According to the Constitution of Bulgaria, adopted by the Great National Assembly on the 13th of July 1991, Bulgaria is a parliamentary democratic republic. The National Assembly is the supreme body of state power and it is elected for a period of four years.
The transition from communism to a fully functioning market economy in the past fifteen years was a painful but steady process and since 1997 the Bulgarian economy has been stable.
The national currency of Bulgaria is the Lev which is now linked to the Euro at a rate of €1 = 1.95 BG Lev and £1 = 2.85 Lev. Most transactions nowadays can be done in either Lev or Euros.
Opening a bank account is a simple process. You need a proof of identity - your passport and your driving licence. The banks offer the option of opening your account in Lev, Euros, British pounds or US dollars. For your convenience it is advisable to have a Lev account for paying your maintenance bills and to combine this with a foreign currency account and/or credit card facility.
Credit cards are still something of a novelty for Bulgarians but they are accepted in big hotels and restaurants that cater for foreign tourists. Cash machines are widespread and take major debit and credit cards, but there is charge for using them.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Bulgaria is statistically one of the lowest in Europe. Here are some figures based a family of four.
Water (per year) £26
Gas (per year) £72
Electricity (per year) £143
The food is very cheap. A three meal course in a restaurant including wine can cost less than £7.50 and a pint of beer could costs less than £0.50 p.
Local transport is also very cheap. A bus ticket from Varna to Sofia costs less than £10 in one direction.
There is progressive income tax between 15% and 29%. If intend to become a permanent resident of Bulgaria, tax will be calculated both on the basis of your income earned in Bulgaria and overseas.
The tax year in Bulgaria ends on the 31st of December. A limited company must file an annual report by 31st of March. An individual must file an annual report by 15th of April.
Capital gains tax is payable by foreigners who sell their Bulgarian property for a profit. This tax currently stands at around 15% however redevelopment costs are offset against tax.
Since 1990 a significant number of economic reforms have lead to macroeconomic stability and Bulgaria is now considered to be both an attractive and safe investment destination.
Bulgarian National Health Service
Most Bulgarian hospitals are very basic compared to those in the UK, however in most of the tourist resorts you will find surgeries where tourists can receive medical attention. There is a charge for these services which varies from resort to resort, but costs are generally low. If you have travel insurance you should be able to claim all your expenses. Please keep all receipts for insurance claims, but be aware that most policies have an excess. You must always contact your Insurance Company immediately to inform them of any accidents or claims.
In the last three years the Bulgarian Health Service has attracted a significant number of foreigners who travel to Bulgaria for medical or dental treatment as the costs are very low and the service can be excellent. Cosmetic surgery procedures, slimming clinics based on healthy life style, and dental treatment are becoming more popular and consequently medical treatment tourism is booming.
For the record:
A hip replacement is around £1450
Dental treatment that includes root filling costs only £22
A face lift is around £1800
Breast enlargement £1500
One month slimming camp in a health farm in Varna costs around £1000.
And the results are excellent.
Visa and Work permit
Two types of residence permit can be granted to foreign citizens
British nationals may enter Bulgaria without a visa for up to thirty days in any 6 month period. The immigration authorities are enforcing this rule more strictly now: you may not be allowed to re-enter Bulgaria after the initial thirty days have expired if you have not spent the requisite period outside the country. If you wish to travel to, and reside in Bulgaria on a more permanent basis, you should contact the Bulgarian Embassy in London and arrange for an appropriate visa. You must register with the nearest police station within five days of arrival. If you are in a hotel or on a package holiday, this will be done for you. If you are staying in a private house, you will need to do it yourself. Failure to do so may result in a fine (currently between 200 lev and 2000 lev ) for your host family.
- One year temporary residency permit
To obtain a temporary work permit you need to have a Type D visa and proof of National Insurance or social security. You also require a minimum of 3000 leva (approx £1025) deposited in a Bulgarian bank account. The visa is granted for one year and is renewed annually together with a Bulgarian Identity Card (lichna karta).
- Permanent visa
To obtain a permanent visa, you must spend at least five years under the long stay conditions with a temporary residency permit.
To be considered a Bulgarian resident you generally have to be resident in Bulgaria for at least 183 days in any calendar year.
You may exceptionally be able to extend your stay in Bulgaria beyond 30 days (normally only for urgent or compassionate reasons) by applying at the local passport office. However, switching "status" is no longer allowed. For example, if you enter as a visitor then decide to establish a business, or stay on a more permanent basis, you will have to go back to London and apply for the appropriate entry clearance at the Bulgarian Embassy.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required please contact the Bulgarian Embassy on 020 7584 9400 or check www.bulgarianembassy.org.uk. The British Embassy in Bulgaria www.british-embassy.bg also provides information on these issues.
Ownership of land in Bulgaria
The current law in Bulgaria does not allow the direct purchase of land by non-nationals. Any foreign person wishing to purchase property with land (this does not include flats or apartments) must buy it through a Bulgarian registered limited company. The process for registering a company is well known and can be achieved within one month, there is also a fast track procedure that costs a little more. Full details are given in the section on the buying process.
Shipka Memorial church
The Shipka Memorial church (or Church of the Nativity) is located only 12km north of Kazanlak, at the south foot of the Stara Planina mountains near the town of Shipka. It was errected after the Liberation as a monument to both Russian and Bulgarian dead. The golden domes and the green and pink coloured facade loom against the mountains and attract the attention of the travellers in the Shipka pass. The project design following the seventeen-century Russian church architecture with arks, friezes, pediments, and gold-plated ornaments, was the work of the Czeck architect A.I. Tomisko. The main entrance has three arks, topped off with the distinctive 50m-high spire of the bell tower. There are 17 bells, the heaviest of them weighs about 12 t.
Location Region: Starozagorska
A monument of Rhodopean architecture, this early 19th century estate was once the residence of a Turkish feudal lord. This remarkable ensemble of residential and agricultural buildings is situated near the spring of Arda river, in the village of Mogilitsa. The palace is unique for its 221 windows, 86 doors and 24 chimneys.
Assenova Fortress is at 2 km south of the town of Asenovgrad, above the road to Smolyan stands the historical Assenova Krepost (Fortress), which had existed even during the Thracian ages, but became strategically important in medieval ages after the battle at Klokotnitsa (1230). The feudal castle of the fortress with the tower and the two water reservoirs are thoroughly studied and conserved. The relatively well-preserved building - the church “Holy Mother of God from Petrich” was restored in 1934 and 1985, and the restoration of the wall paintings was completed in 1991. The same year the church was awarded a statute of functioning temple. There is a guide, whose working hours are from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
BACHO KIRO CAVE
The Bacho Kiro Cave is located near the Dryanovo monastery. It is also known as the Dryanovo Cave and was opened in 1890 and since 1964 it has been electrified. For as long as 1200 m a fairytale underground world reveals itself to the eyes of the visitor. The formations follow one after another - “Bacho Kiro’s Throne”, “the Dwarfs”, “The Sleeping Princess”. The “Throne Hall”, the “Reception Hall”, the “Haidouti Meeting-Ground”, the “Fountain”, the Sacrificial Altar” evoke the admiration of the visitors. Remnants of people who lived during the Paleolithic Age were found in the cave.
The monastery “St George The Victorious” is situated just outside the village of Belashtitza, which in turn lies 12km to the south of the city of Plovdiv – there where the Rhodopi mountains start to rise from the ends of the Thracian valley. The monastery is not big but is very cozy, nesting within the marvelous forest above the village.
The monastery was built by a Byzantine military commander, Nikifor Skifi, who in 1014 during a battle at the Belasitsa mountain (in present-day Macedonia) appeared with his men in the rear of the courageous Bulgarian Tsar Samuil and this way contributed to the victory of the Byzantine ruler Basilius II who left the field with plenty of spoils and prisoners of war.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, religious Bulgarians donated funds for further construction and improvement of the buildings, the yard and the church of the monastery. The monastery is declared a monument of culture and represents a complex consisting of a church, a chapel, residential and farm buildings. At present three nuns and 2 novices live permanently in it.
Each year on the 6th of May, on the day of the patron of the monastery, plenty of temporary stalls emerge in front of the monastery and many pilgrims gather there, but it is peaceful and quiet during the rest of the year. A visit to the monastery can be combined with a picnic or a tourist hike in the mountain, as the cloister is surrounded by broad-lived forests with plenty of springs and meadows.
The Boyana church is one of the few examples of medieval art in Bulgaria that have survived to date. What is more, the small church is one of 9 sites in Bulgaria, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list for its cultural value.
The Boyana church lies in the suburbs of Sofia, in the ex-village and current quarter of the capital city, Boyana, and was originally built during the late 10th century-early 11th c. At that time, the church lay within a fortified settlement, the so-called Boyana Fortress (10-11th c.). Later on, the church was rebuilt and expanded twice – first in the middle of the 13th century and then - in the middle of the 19th century, though the output of the last stage did not carry any remarkable value.
Even if the church’s walls were first decorated in the 11th century, the Boyana Church is most famous for its masterly paintings of the 13th century, and particularly those painted in 1259. Among all paintings preserved to date, the greatest interest is attracted to the portraits of the church-donors – Sebastocrator Kaloyan and Sebastocratoress Desislava and those of the royal family of that time – Tsar Constantin Assen and his wife Irina. Their imposing figures are painted in full size, vested in rich ceremonial clothes adequate to their rank in the hierarchy of the then-feudal society. The portraits of the donors are particularly expressive and realistic, which has made many researchers label them as true masterpieces of the medieval period.
Belogradchishki Skali (Belogradchik Rocks) are formed from red sandstone and conglomerate. The area is one of the natural wonders of Bulgaria! A fairy-tale stone world surrounds Belogradchik from west, south and southeast. If you come from Sofia by car you will see at first the Falkov-Borovets group of rocks with Momina Skala (Maiden’s Rock), Pchelin kamak, Torlaka, Borovishki Kamak etc. Lipenitsa group is to the east of the town among which biggest interest evoke the Dinosaur and the Latin Kale (a strategic fortress surrounded by a fortified wall). It is worth seeing the Lepenishka Cave in which charred wheat and vessels dating 2000 years ago were found, and the Izvozki oak – more than 1200 years old. Among the Zbegovska group of rocks to the west of the town a great impression make the Twins, the rocks in the area called Magaza, Small and Big Zbeg, which were used as fortresses, the lonely obelisk Borich and the Belogradchik stone bridge. The central group rises immediately above the town. One can see about 100 m high lonely rocks named Adam and Eve, the delicate Madonna, Konika (The Rider), Uchenichkata (The Female Student), Mechkata (The Bear), the Dervish (Muslim clergyman), the impressive Borov Kamak, Mo-na-site (The Monks), the fantastic kale with ancient fortress walls, above which the most magic rock wonders rise.
The French traveler Germon Blanky wrote the following about the Belogradchishki Skali in the distant 1841: “Neither the famous narrow passes of Aulihul in Provance, neither the Pancarbo Gorge in Spain, neither the Alps, neither the Pyrenees, nor the most eminent Tyrol mountains in Switzerland have anything, which can be compared with what I saw in Bulgaria in the town of Belogradchik”. The famous Felix Kanits adds: “It’s hardly probable that a more romantic fortress than the Belogradchik one has ever been built”.
The most characteristic peculiarity of the Belogradchik Fortress is the perfect inclusion of the unapproachable rocks in the whole fortress system. Three copnstruction periods can be seen in the buildings - Roman and Byzantine (1st-6th centuries), Byzantine and Bulgarian (8th-14th centuries) and Turkish (1805-1837). The constructions of the last period prevail in its present-day outlook. The fortress is situated at 10200 sq. m and has 5 gates, 4 of which are main. Magourata or the Rabishkata Peshtera (Rabisha Cave) is found near the village of Rabisha, 16 km west of the town of Dimovo, 50 km southwest from Vidin and 34 km northwest of Belogradchik. It was formed about 3-4 million years ago in the Magoura Hill, 463 m high. Inside one can see unique halls and formations as Triumphalnata Zala (The hall of tryumphs), Harmana (The wheat thrashing site), the Hall of the Stalactone, Glinenite Piramidi (The mud pyramids), Povaleniyat Bor (The fallen pine-tree), Vkamenenata Reka (The Stoned River), The Fiords, etc. The exit of the cave is through Vratach on the bank of the Rabisha Lake. Primitive men lived there. The wall drawings made with bat excrements are the only ones in the caves at the Balkan Peninsular. These masterpieces of late prehistoric art date back from the beginning of the Bronze Age. The cave was used by Manush Voivoda as a shelter. Magourata Cave is electrified, the length of its galleries are 2500 m. A minimal entry fee is paid. There is a hotel, a restaurant, pavilions and other buildings round it. There is a regular bus transport to the area from Belogradchik and the town of Dimovo.
BABA VIDA FORTRESS
Baba Vida Fortress - Museum (tel.: 094 22884) is the biggest historical sight of Vidin and is the best-preserved medieval Bulgarian fortress in the country. It has been built in different historical periods from 3th century till the end of 19th century. Most active were the construction works under the reign of Ivan Srazimir. The main body of the fortress of that time is preserved even today - the main turrets and bastions, as well as the inner surrounding wall that connects them. A museum exhibition is arranged in the fortress. There is a theatrical scene and dramatic performances with historical plot are played among the unique scenery.
The Batoshevo monastery lies several kilometers above the village of Batoshevo, which in turn is situated some 10km to the south of the town of Sevlievo, on the bank of the Rositsa river.
According to a marble stone inscription exhibited in the Batoshevo village’s museum, the monastery was established in the year 1250 during the rule of Tzar Michail Assen. The monastery was destroyed with the fall of the Bulgarian state under Ottoman rule. In 1809, a monk from the town of Troyan, Isay, came as a hermit to this place. One day the monk heard the story of a herdswoman who one evening, while seeking for lost cattle, saw a mother and a child sitting over a stone and crying for being left forgotten and homeless. The monk found the herdwoman and interpreted her vision as the request of God’s Mother to have a monastery rebuilt in this place. Isay built a small cottage close to the stone, hang an icon inside and started living here as a hermit. Isay also started traveling often to Sevlievo and Batoshevo and telling the story of the herdswoman to the local people, trying to raise money for a new monastery.
Unfortunately, Isay was not able to finish his deed as he was forced out of his place. In 1831, however, during a plague epidemic, many citizens of Sevlievo left their homes and fled to the Balkan mountain. The people then took a vow to build a monastery in the place of the old Batoshevo monastery if they survive the epidemic. And so it happened. It took four years to collect all the needed documents and raise money. Construction started in 1836 with donations from Gabrovo tradesmen, Sevlievo craftsmen and other rich Bulgarians. The first father superior of the new monastery is Hadzhi Makarii from the town of Troyan. The monastery became quickly a renowned religious school and even the famous Bacho Kiro Petrov spent two years in studies here.
Beglik Tash represents a natural phenomenon of huge megaliths that were later carved by a Thracian tribe and were used as a place for pagan ceremonies. It is situated close to the southern seaside town of Primorsko. It is a bit hard to reach as signs are nowhere to be found, save for one at the entrance of Primorsko, if one drives into the town from the main seaside road from Bourgas to the Bulgarian-Greek border. Nevertheless, it is worth making the effort to find it as in our view, the place is comparable in historic value and beauty to the biggest Thracian sanctuary in Bulgarian lands, Perperikon (close to the town of Kurdzhali).
Beglik Tash can be reached by taking the road to the Perla Residence right after entering the town of Primorsko. Then, before reaching the Perla Residence, one has to take a left-hand asphalt road that enters the Ropotamo reserve and after 3-4km leads to an improvised parking place with a signed wooden gate, some 500 meters away from Beglik Tash. From there, one has to walk the rest of the distance on food down a dirty road, unless he/she drives an off-road vehicle.
Beglik Tash is the name of a wider surrounding area and a natural rock formation of huge monolithic blocks crowded at the end of a spacious clearing in the forest. The stone blocks are of volcano origin, and were formed of hardened magma that erupted from the nearby peak of Kitka. The latter currently is just 215m high but used to be an acting volcano during the Mesozoic era. Later on, a Thracian tribe named “esti” used the place for cult ceremonies in worship of the Sun.
Currently, the stone formation represents an open-air museum, maintained by the Bourgas historical museum and during the summer season (until 6pm), visitors can pay a small fee for a guide who will tell them more about the ceremonies carried out there. One learns from the guide that most of the megaliths have traces of carving for the purposes of Thracian rituals. At the entrance, for instance, one can see a large flat stone with the shape of a comfortable double bed where according to archeologists a ritual copulation of the tribe’s female and male shamans took place. Another place, resembling a womb, shows where Thracians observed how sunlight went through the tiny hole, symbolizing the union between Father Sun and Mother Nature. There was also a labyrinth of several stones, which represented one of the challenges in a quest for a chosen one of the tribe that had to be passed in order for this man to be proclaimed a half-God, called Heros. Visitors are invited to pass through the remains of the labyrinth, which in fact represent a very narrow path through high-rising stones, in order to clean themselves of sin. Another challenge, a part of the Heros ritual, was the entrance of the future Heros into a small cave and his entry from the other end, symbolizing his religious birth as the child of the Sun and Mother Nature. Finally, one can also see also can Thracian sun clock on one of the stones.
BOTANIC GARDEN OF BALCHIK
The Botanic Garden of Balchik lies in the heart of the town, which in turn is situated 31km north of Varna in a beatiful inlet.
About this place: Struck by the natural beauty of the area around Balchik, the Romanian Queen Maria built a summer palace and a botanical garden there. This happened 8 years after the end of World War I in 1918, when Balchik was annexed to the territory of Romania. Besides the high-towered palace and the surrounding garden, the complex also includes a chapel, which still keeps the heart of the queen after her will, a villa, originally meant to host Romanian aristocrats, and a beatiful stone throne under an old tree where Queen Maria loved to watch the sunset.
THE CHEPINO RIVER BED
The Chepino River Bed - the valley of River Chepinska between the Rhodeope subparts Alabak (to the west) and Karkaria (to the east) is about 30 km long. It is a picturesque gorge, through which pass the motorway and the narrow-gauge railway line from Septemvri to Dobrinishte. Being carried by the low speed romantic train, one can admire the picturesque beauties of the surrounding.
The protected site "Chairite Lakes" is located about 20 km east of the village of Trigrad. It consists of six lakes with picturesque flora and fauna.
The Medieval Town of Cherven, one of the most significant military, economic and cultural centres of Bulgaria during the 13th and the 14th centuries was located near the present day village of Cherven (on the right bank of the Cherni Lom River, by the name of the same village, at the distance of 31 km south of Rousse). Out of the preserved ruins most interesting are the parts of the fortified walls, the defensive tower (used as a model for the restoration of the Baldwin Tower on Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Turnovo), the two gates, the castle, the foundations of a great number of churches, the foundations of the boyar palaces, the two unique in their kind water pumping facilities with vaulted staircases, etc. There is a regularly functioning bus transport to the village.
DEVIL'S THROAT CAVE
Before entering the Trigrad Gorge, the Trigradska River falls into the Dyavolskoto Gurlo (Devil’s Throat) - a fantastic cave, where, along the following 7000 metres, the water forms some 18 waterfalls and passing through the enormous Roaring Hall exits into the canyon. This miracle of nature is electrified and can be visited against a symbolic fee.
The Devil''s Bridge is located near the small village of Mogilitsa, about 20 km away from Smolyan.
The road from Mogilitsa to Yagodina runs through the precipitous Buinov Gorge, past the mouth of a side-canyon that''s great for hiking and caving. Only 2km long and 2-4m wide, the Haidushki dol (Outlaws'' Ravine) ascends in cascades to its watershed between two peaks connected by a natural rock bridge called the Devil''s Bridge, after a legend that only he can cross it.
The Durankoulak Moor is the farthest northern place of interest along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Its distance to the Dourakoulak village and the border with Romania is less than 6 km. The distance to Varna is 82 km. A gritty natural mound separates the moor from the sea, though these still remain connected via a canal.
ERMA RIVER GORGE
The imposing gorge of Erma River is situated 5 km south of the town of Trun. The river springs in Serbia, flows in Bulgaria and again in Serbia pours into Nishava River. The high vertical rocks overgrown with lilac raise up to 150 m. It was namely when he saw this beauty of nature that the famous Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov exclaimed, '"What so about Switzerland!'". One can find accommodation there in the Rui Hotel-Restaurant, which is nestled in the gorge.
The unique in south-eastern Europe open-air museum - the architectural ethnographic complex of Etura is situated at the distance of 8 km south of the centre of the town in the immediate proximity of the Etara quarter and past the Sivek River (at the distance of 3 km from the road-fork to Shipka). It is the most interesting place of interest in the town and one of the most visited site all over Bulgaria. Located over an area of 60 decares the complex lives the authentic life of a typical craftsmanship settlement from the period of Bulgarian Revival. The way Bulgarian people lived 150 years ago can be perceived and felt here. One can hear the rattle of wheels and mills moved by water, the whiz of the mills for woollen cloths and for flour. Metal ornaments, pottery articles, copper utensils, braids, hot buns and whatever else come out from the skillful hands of the masters there. The little cobblestone streets, the stone cheshmi (drinking-fountains), the gas lanterns, Sakov’s house, the house with the tavern, the clock tower and a lot of other authentic details complete the whole picture. All of these is predominantly the work of the great patriot Lazar Donkov who dedicated his life to this noble cause – to create this authentic ethnographic complex. There is a town bus running to Etura.
The central cape of the Stara Planina Mountain called Emine is situated just a few kilometres to the south of the town of Obzor. Emine and the Kaliakra cape are the two most impressive Bulgarian capes at the Black Sea coast. The Emine cape ends with a 60-metre-long steep rock, which dives into the sea. The rock, together with the lighthouse perking over it, attracts with its beauty those travelling by water between Bourgas and Varna.A small village called Emona can be found 2km away from the cape in inland direction. The village's name, Emona, comes from the ancient name of the Stara Planina mountain range, Aemon (later called Hemus). The village is famous for being the birthplace of the Thracian king Rez. He participated in the Thracian War and was killed by Odysseus and Diomedus according to Homer's "Iliad". During the Middle Ages, the cape hosted a virtually inaccessible fortress, called Emona. The fortress was part of a system of similar forts, controlled by the Karvuna autonomous principality. During the same period, the cape was surrounded by monasteries, inhabited by hermits. The remains of the fortress and those monasteries are considered to stand behind the ancient Greek name of the area and later - of the very fortress, Paleokastro (meaning Old Fortress).
THE HOLY SPIRIT(GODECH)MONASTERY
The Holy Spirit monastery, also known as the Godech monastery, is situated close to the Bulgarian-Serbian border, to the northwest of Sofia. It lies in the western end of the town of Godech, about 100m. away from the road connecting Godech to the town of Dragoman.
The exact date when the monastery was first built is not known but it is believed that the valley of the Nishava river has been home to many churches and monasteries ever since the Middle Ages. According to archeological findings, the Godech region was a big religious centre and a part of the wider '"small Sveta Gora'" (as the area around Sofia is called due to the large number of monasteries there) during the Second Bulgarian State and the early years of Ottoman rule.
The present-day monastery is built over the ruins of two churches, discovered by an old woman, Bona Velinova from the village of Grigorovo. According to the story told by local people, Bona Velinova was gifted by God to find the ruins of more than 100 forgotten churches and monasteries. In 1920, she came to Godech and wished to show the local people a place where she believed that ruins of monasteries can be dug. She was, however, chased away by the local priest, Andrey, who was later punished by God with the deaths of his two children that same year. In 1921, Bona came back to Godech and this time she was followed by the locals to a cornfield where she showed a place with her stick and urged the crowd to dig. The story goes on by saying that some 70m. below the surface the people found the foundations of a medieval church. A few footsteps to the southeast, the old woman showed another place where remains of a second church were dug. She mentioned then that there were remains of a third temple in the vicinity, too, but somebody else was to find it later on.
The Holy Spirit church is the older and bigger one. The Sveti Sedmochislenitsi church, dedicated to St. Cyril, Methodius and their 5 disciples, was built of bricks during 1951-1952 and has a traditional iconostasis, the icons of which were painted by Mileti Bozhinov in 1951. Currently, the monastery is kept by a secular person, Flora Nakova, who has been here since 1983 after she widowed. During 1995-1996, a two-storey residential building with 5 rooms and a spacious dining hall was built with the help of donations and with proceeds from the sale of candles. A brick wall around the monastery was also constructed at that time.
Kaliakra is a beautiful cape close to the Romanian border. Usually, it is the final stop of foreign tourists looking for pretty sights and interesting places to the north of Varna. Close to Kaliakra (12 km.) one can visit the town of Kavarna, which lies 60 km away from Varna.The cape stretches 2km deep into the sea and consists of 60-70m-high limestone rocks, the inaccessibility of which has been the main reason for the construction of an ancient fortress named Tirisis there. The fortress was successively used by Tracians, Romans, Byzantines and Bulgarians. According to legends, the fortress was guarding the treasuries of Lyzimah, successor of Alexander the Great. Today there are quite many remains of those ancient settlements, which can be seen exhibited in a small museum. One can also read there a legend telling the story of several Bulgarian girls who chose to jump from the high cape into the sea but not to be captured and converted to Islam by the Turks.
THE KABILE NATIONAL ARCHEOLOGY RESERVE
The Kabile National Archaeology Reserve is situated 6 km north of the town of Yambol. It preserves the ruins of the most significant antique Thracian town of Kabile.
Kabile was established around the year 2000 BC and was built in the vicinity of the Zaychi Vrah peak, which in turn hosted a sanctuary dedicated to the Artemida Phosphoros Goddess. One of the sanctuary’s rocks still keeps the image of Artemida. At that time, the river of Tudzha was navigable and Kabile maintained close contacts with a nearby town, Sevtopolis, which is currently under the waters of the Koprinka dam.
Around 341 BC, the town was conquered by the army of Philip of Macedonia, while later it became a part of the lands ruled by Alexander of Macedonia. In the 3rd century BC it changed hands again and was conquered by Thracian tribes. In the early 3rd century during the rule of two Thracian kings, Spartok and Skostok, it became the capital city of Thracia. In the 3rd and 2nd century BC, Kabile was the only town in Thracian lands that coined its own bronze and silver money with the image of Artemida. In the year 71 BC, it was subjected to the Roman Empire by the troops of Mark Lucul while after the year 45, it became a part of the Roman province of Thracia.
At the end of the 4th century, Kabile was conquered by Gothic tribes. The town’s existence was put to an end by the arrival of Avarian tribes in the late 6th c. In the middle ages the area was inherited by a Bulgarian settlement of the name Kovel, which existed for a short time until the late 14th c.
The territory, occupied by the ancient town was declared of national significance and was transformed into an archaeology reserve in 1965.
The remains are really impressive. There is also an archaeological museum with the following working hours: summer time - 8.00 a.m. - 8.00 p.m., winter time - 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. A bus runs from Yambol to the museum 9 times a day.
The monastery named “The Birth of God’s Mother” stands out in the middle of a field, nearby the archeology reserve of Kabile 6km away from the town of Yambol. Its well-kept yard brings joy to the visitor’s eye with its numerous plants and flowers. Most pilgrims are drawn here by the belief that the monastery’s holy spring will bring them health and longevity.
In the late antiquity (4-5th c), Kabile was a big religious centre while about 1km away from the present-day archeology reserve there was a monastery during the time of Emperor St Constantine the Great. According to a legend, Queen Elena often sent people to the monastery in order to bring her back water from the curative spring. Later, the monastery became an Orthodox cloister inhabited by nuns and existed as such until the Ottoman invasion in the late 14th c. Despite the monastery’s destruction, the memory of the magic water was kept from generation to generation. In 1898, Stoyan Ganev from the village of Kabile, while resting after work in the field saw in his dream a woman in black, who showed him the place of the curative spring. The ploughman started digging in this spot and indeed, water sprang out. Later, however, rows with his countrymen forced Stoyan Ganev to dig the spring back below the surface which according to the story blinded him in this very minute. For 17 years the place was covered with grass and weeds. In 1918, an old lady from Sliven (Maria Marinova) rediscovered the spring after a prophetical dream. There, generous people built a small chapel around which a monastery gradually was erected. Construction works started in 1919 and ended in 1944. The biggest merit for the successful construction had a man from the village of Gen. Inzovo – Georgi Nikolov, who travelled from village to village and raised donations for several years. Since 1995, the monastery has been run by a 26-year old nun, Minodora. The monastery at present has just 4 other nuns. It offers accommodation and can host up to 50 people.
The Kamenna Svatba (the '"stone wedding'") is a natural phenomenon of stone, situated 25 km north-west of Chirpan and 2 km away from the village of Medovo. There are regular bus lines to the village.
The Kapinovski monastery, named “St Nikola”, is built near the Veselina river in the skirts of the beautiful Elena ridge of the Balkan Mountain. The monastery lies 18km to the south of the town of Veliko Turnovo. When looked at from the north, it resembles strikingly a medieval fortress.
History and General Info: The exact date of the monastery’s initial construction is not known, but according to a notice found on the monastery church’s apse, a church, named “Holy Trinity”, was built in this place as early as in the year 1272. According to some legends, the monastery was established by Tsar Ivan Assen II. During the period of the Second Bulgarian State, “St Nikola” became an important religious centre. With the fall of Turnovo under Ottoman rule, the monastery was set on fire and destroyed. It was no earlier than the late 17th century when countrymen from the surrounding villages managed to get the Turkish authorities’ approval for its reconstruction.
The most recent renewal of the monastery dates to the early 19th century. The present-day church was built in 1835, while in 1864, two patriotic brothers from the town of Elena donated a substantial sum of money for the construction of new residential buildings for the monastery’s monks. The monastery played an important role during the Bulgarian Renaissance period. In 1830, it started to host a literary school while in 1860, it helped in the organisation of the Hadzhi Stavri rebellion. The monastery also took part in the preparations for the April Uprising.
Massive wooden gates and steep stone stairs lead to the monastery yard and the monastery’s church, which rises in its centre. The church hosts a rich collection of icons, including one of Our Lady, most likely painted by Pope Vitan, and iconographic works from the near-by Plakovo monastery.
KRUSTOVA GORA(CHRIST FOREST)
45 км south of Assenovgrad, in the proximity of the town of Luki and above the village of Belitsa, in Gradishte Mountain (western part of the Rhodope Mountains), is located one of the most honoured Christian holy places - Krustova Gora (Crest Forest). Close to Mt. Krustov Vruh (1413 м) there was a Christian monastery, which was burned by the Turks and the monks were killed as well. The place is considered a holly place - if someone overnights there, there is a chance for him to be cured, if ill. Of course, this is valid for truly religious persons. Now there is a church and always lots of people crowd there, especially on September 14th - the day of the Holly Crest. There is a regular bus transport to the village of Borovo. From there one may set out by car or on foot (1-1.30 hours).
Lakatnik Rocks is a unique piece of nature’s art, located around the gorge of Iskar river! It is here that Bulgarian mountaineering made its first steps. These stone walls are the perfect challenge for any climber. The Alpine shelter Orlovo Gnezdo (Eagke’s nest) has nestled among the rocks. It was built in 1938 by the members of Bulgarian Alpine Club and can host 4 mountaineers. Nearby is located the famous Temnata Dupka Cave and the Zhitolub Karst Spring, close to which there is a restaurant. A 1 hour-walk from Bov railway station takes the visitors (along a marked route) to one of the highest Bulgarian waterfalls, the Skaklya Waterfall (85 metres). From there along a marked track by the Zessele and Zimevitsa villages the Proboinitsa Chalet can be reached (3-3.30 hours).
The Ledenika Cave is situated in the Vratza Balkan, south-west of the town of Vratza (16 km asphalt road and approximately 2.30 hours on foot along a marked tourist track). This is one of the most interesting Bulgarian caves, which is electrified. There are several halls with wonderful formations, the most impressive being the Concert hall (60 m long, 46 m wide and 22.7 m high) which has a fantastic acoustics. It has hosted a lot of concerts. The entry fee is just a symbolic one. Next to the cave there is a tourist settlement. Ledenika Chalet (850 m above sea level, tel.: 092 24411, 86 beds in 2 suites and rooms of 2, 4, 5, and 6 beds) is nearby, too. In the direction to the settlement there is also an open-chair lift, its initial station being between the town of Vratsa and the village of Zgorigrad, which is located immediately to the south end of Vratsata Gorge. There is regular bus transport to the lift.
At first, the Lozen monastery '"St. Spas'" was built in the 11-12th c. but was destroyed soon afterwards during the invasion of Ottoman troops to Bulgaria in the late 14th century. It was rebuilt in the 17th century by a monk who came from the Athos peninsula in Greece. The present-day church, St Spas, consists of 3 naves and was built in 1821 by Master Tsvyatko Todorov. In 1868, the church was painted with frescoes most of which have survived to date. The Samokov citizen Nikola Obrazopisov with his aides – Hristaki Zahgariev and Dimitar Dupnichanin - painted all the frescos. The biblical scenes that can be seen are many, but Kiril and Methodi, St Ivan of Rila, Patriarch Evtimii, and other men of letters and enlighteners are painted with exceptionally great devotion. Canonised Sofia citizens such as Nikola Novi of Sofia, Geori Novi of Sofia, Konstantin of Sofia can be also recognized among the images.
At present (May 2006), the monastery undergoes a thorough repair, with the existing residential buildings being renovated, and a new residential part being built for guests. The monastery is a female one and is operational.
The Lozen monastery can be reached on foot from the eastern end of the Lozen village in the suburbs of Sofia. It takes 20-30 minutes to get there from the village by following the road to the highest peak in the Lozen mountain – Polovrak.
NIKOPOLIS AD NESTUM
The remains of the ancient Roman town of Nikopolis ad Nestum can be found seven kilometers to the east of the town of Gotse Delchev, close to the village of Gurmen. The old town was built on the left bank of the Mesta river in honour of Roman Emperor Trayan’s victory over the tribe of the Dacas in 105-106 AC. Necropolis ad Nestum was one of the two such fortified towns built in present-day Bulgaria by Emperor Trayan (98-117 AC) to mark his victory. The original town occupied a territory of about 25-30 decаres and had the shape of irregular quadruple. It was ruined in the 6-7th c. by the Slavs but re-emerged as a medieval settlement in the late 10th century. The town had been inhabited for about 14 centuries with its peak reached in the late antiquity (4th-6th c. AC).
Excavations have cleared 280 meters of fortress walls, fundamentals of administrative and religious buildings and tumulus, which can be seen on the site. There, archeologists have found fragments of a votive relieve of the Thracian Horseman, a statuette of God Hermes, an old Christian tumulus, over 95 gold and 22 other coins, glass, bronze and ceramic vessels, a ritual table, etc. Some of these findings can be seen in the Gotse Delchev’s historical museum. In close proximity to Nikopolis ad Mestum, historians have found remains of two basilica of the early Christianity (4th c. AC), which are believed to form part of the complex, too. The basilicas have mosaic floors with geometric and natural motifs.
At 10 km to the north-west of Panagurishte is located the historical place Oborishte, on the small River Panova, amidst an old beech forest. Here, on 14th April 1876 convened the revolutionary committees of IV Revolutionary District (the First Great National Assembly in the history of Bulgaria), which took the decision for the declaring of the April Uprising. A modest commemorating monument was erected in 1926. 800 metres to the south of it there is a chalet with the same name with 24 beds (booking is made at Bounai Tourist Association in Panagyurishte). An asphalt road reaches it or walking takes 2.30 hours along a special trail. The chalet can be also reached by bus to the nearest village of Oborishte and from there 6 more kilometres by car or on foot.
Near the village of Pepelina, 31km to the north-east of Byala the beautiful Orlova Chuka Cave is located (in the Cherni Lom River valley). Thea total length of the galleries is about 12km thus being the second longest cave in Bulgaria. It is electrified. The cave can be reached for about 45 minutes walk starting from the railway station of Tabachka. It is at a distance of 6 km from the town of Dve Mogili. There is a regular bus line from Rousse to Pepelina and from there - 3 km along a truck road (30 minutes walk). Near the cave there is a mountain chalet of the same name (it offers 21 beds in two rooms with 3 beds each and a room with 15 beds, for reservations: tel. 082 224705, 225454 – Prista Tourist Association, Rousse.)
Perperikon (also known as Hyperperakion or Perperakion) is located in the Eastern part of the Rhodopi mountain range, about 15km away from the town of Kurdzhali. Perperikon perches some 470m above sea level, with the village of Gorna Krepost lying beneath it. Nearby the village, the gold-bearing river of Perperishka has long watered a fertile land of total area of some 30-40km2. This generous land has attracted inhabitants for many centuries, which explains the numerous archeological finds of ancient remains in the region.
No doubt, the most imposing of these is Perperikon – a medieval fortress built in the place of an ancient Thracian sanctuary, related to the cult towards the Thracian equivalence of the Greek god of wine and feasts, Dionysius (known as Zagrey among the Thracians). According to some of the explorers of the site, this grandiose religious centre was built some 3,500 years ago and was used for ritual sacrifices of animals and people, as well as for religious orgies of young men and women worshipping Zagrey.
The remains of the later medieval Perperikon reveal 15 graves carved in rocks, as well as the foundations of fortress walls and parts of an octagonal tower, built of big rectangular stones. Noteworthy, the complex also preserves the remains of a water reservoir, carved in a monolithic rock. This is 6m deep and of total area of 60m, representing one of the biggest artificial water reservoirs in the Rhodopi region. The stones of Perperikon also uncover graffiti paintings of human bodies and various geometrical figures, which are connected with the religious beliefs of another ancient tribe, the Protobulgarians.
PYRAMIDS OF STOB
16 km north of Blagoevgrad and several km before the town of Rila is situated the village of Stob with the famous nearby pyramids of Stob - exceptionally beautiful and elegant earthen pyramids, finished with rounded rocky blocks. They are moulded in up to 40 metres thick reddish drifts. They are called in different ways- Samodivski Komini (Nymphs’ Chimneys), Kouklite (the Dolls), Zuberite (the Pinnacles), Choukite (Rocky Peaks), Bratyata (The Brothers), Svatovete (In-laws), etc. Several regular bus lines pass through the village of Stob on their way to the town of Rila and the Rila Monastery.
The mouth of the Ropotamo river is situated in the middle of the coast line stretching between the holiday city of Duni and the town of Primorsko, about 45km to the south of Bourgas. The Ropotamo river originates from springs located some 50 kilometers to the west in the Strandzha Mountains. The mouth of the river is some 30 meters wide and is a favorite place of local fishermen. The river is named after the Greek goddess of 'Ro', meaning 'Run' (Potamo meaning in turn "River'). The legend tells that the Goddess was so charming and sang so beautifully that she managed to talk in pirates to leave the area in peace.
Sinite Kamuni (Blue Stones) Natural Park is located in Karandila area, near the town of Sliven. The park has extremely interesting rock formations, such as Halkata (literally meaning the Ring).
The Tatul sanctuary is situated just outside the present-day village of Tatul, 8km to northeast of the town of Momchilgrad. The temple lies inside the fortress walls of a Thracian fortress and is believed to have been dedicated to the famous Thracian singer, Orpheus. The sanctuary, deemed to date back to the 12th century BC, represents a big monolithic rock shaped by men into a pyramid. It is 4.5m high and 6m wide at its base. Within its body, worshippers have dug two rocky cemeteries, 8 stairs, and a niche for laying a ritual plate.
THRACIAN TOMB OF OSTRUHA
The ancient Thracian tomb in the Ostrusha Hill near Kazanluk consists of cell with a shape of sarcophagi, one circle and three rectangular premises. It occupies territory of 100 sq. meters. The cellar of the tomb is very interesting – combination of relief and art decoration, and there can be seen portrait images, animal figures and vegetation ornaments. The tomb dates from V th century BC.
Location: The Trigrad Gorge is a breathtaking natural phenomenon just outside the village of the Trigrad. The incomparable karst formation has 250-meter high walls on both sides of the narrow asphalt road to Trigrad. To many (including ourselves!) the Trigrad Gorge is the most impressive natural sight in Bulgaria and there is little doubt that it is worth the 3-hour ride from Sofia.
About this place: The most impressive forms of the gorge lie about 3km north of Trigrad and the only road connecting the Trigrad people to the rest of the world passes frightfully beneath the vertical rocks with just a small patch of sky visible from below. The karst formations have been carved by the Trigrad river itself, which goes underground here, meanders in the Devil’s Throat cave, creating some 18 roaring waterfalls there and appears again on the surface shortly before one reaches Trigrad. The area of the Trigrad Groge is home to about 150 caves and appeals with equal strength to nature-lovers, climbers and speleologists all over the year. Only two of these, the Devil’s Throat and the Yagodinska caves, however, are open to ordinary tourists. Another cave, the so-called Haramiiska, welcomes only the bravest who, after signing a declaration that the organizers are not to be held liable in case of an incident, are dropped by ropes deep into the cave’s throat.
The town of Tryavna is situated in a narrow valley of the Tryavna Balkan Mountain, 242km away from the city of Sofia. The small mountain town (with less than 13,000 inhabitants) is halved by the Dryanovska river, which adds to its enchantment.
Established as a village around a church built by the Assen dynasty in the 12th c. AC, the town of Tryavna grew into one of the cultural centres of the Bulgarian Renaissance period. The town saw its apogee in the 18-19th c. with the development of crafts, applied arts and trade. The famous Tryavna Art School left its biggest impact on the town''s looks of that period, which are largely preserved to date. Felix Kanits, who visited the town in 1872 named it '"The Bulgarian Nuernberg'".
At present the old part of the town is declared an architectural reserve with some 140 monuments of Renaissance art. The most prominent examples are Dyado Nikola square, Slaveykov street, Petar Bogdanov street, Kachaunska Mahala, etc. Apart from its rich historical and architectural landmarks, the town has also drawn on visitors for its curative climate ever since the end of the 19th c. The first of the country''s children sanatoriums for lung diseases was built here in the early 20th c. with a donation from Queen Ioana, wife of King Boris III.
The Veleka river springs from a region in Turkey, situated very close to the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The river meanders through the virgin nature of the Strandzha mountain before flowing into the Black Sea. Its mouth is particularly beautiful for the way the river sinks underground to flow into the sea beneath a relatively wide strip of sand. The mouth of Veleka is only 4km south of Ahtopol and at the very northern end of the village of Sinemoretz. The Veleka river is one of the most romantic and ecologically clean rivers of the country. The misty shroud over it in the early morning is an unforgettable sight. Veleka is an inseparable part of the Strandzha natural park and is one of the key charms of the region, together with the Rezovska river. The mountain was declared a natural park in 1995 (in fact being the largest one in Bulgaria) and is one of the least explored in Bulgaria, which explains the richness of its wildlife. The mountain also has a lot of caves (particularly in its western part), traces of ancient civilisations (such as stone figures, sun discs carved in stone, Thracian dolmens, fortress walls, protobulgarian sanctuaries, etc).
Yagodinska Cave is located 3 km south-east of the village of Yagodina. It represents a three-level labyrinth of total length of 10km and is one of the deepest caves in Bulgaria. A walk along the well-lit tourist trail (1100 m.) reveals impressive rock formations of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as other shapes resembling stone curtains and cave pearls. Archeological objects dating from the 4th and 5th centuries BC have also been discovered there.The temperature in the cave is stationary at +6 C, while the humidity is 92%.
ABOUT THE “MOMINA BANYA” MINERAL SPRING
The mineral water of the “Momina banya” spring has the highest radon content and a temperature of 47 degrees, which makes it exceptionally good for the treatment of kidney-urological diseases and diseases of the locomotory system. The water is alkaline, poorly mineralized, hydro-carbonate-sodium and fluoric, with no color and scent, with pleasant taste. The first chemical analysis of the mineral water in Bulgaria was made exactly here at the “Momina banya” spring, in 1832. This is also the year, in which the organized balneology treatment in Bulgaria started and when the Government of Eastern Roumelia issued the first “Regulations for the exploitation of the Hissar mineral baths” ever.
The name of the “Momina banya” spring is connected to a legend dating back to the Middle Ages, according to which the daughter of the local governor loved to bathe in the mineral spring outside the town walls. One day the town was attacked by enemies and the gates of the fortified walls closed. The Boyar’s daughter and her friends remained at the mineral spring. They did not want to be captured that was why they preferred to drown themselves in the hot mineral spring.
Perperikon Gold Cultular Treasures
The cult of Dionysus was deeply rooted in Thracian culture in the Rhodope. Another tradition for which the mountain was famous in ancient times was the mining of gold, silver and precious stones. One of the largest mines in Antiquity was located near the present-day village of Stremtsi, about a mile and a half from Perperikon. What remains of it are about a dozen entrances and more than 500 metres of galleries. The entire hillside was cut through by a thick network of tunnels and caverns. During the Pleistocene, the site must have been the bed of a subterranean river carrying gold-rich alluvium. In subsequent geological periods, the upper layers of rock must have collapsed and, as the river bed dried up, the alluvial deposits became consolidated. The ancient gold-diggers crushed the rock into gravel and then washed away the lighter sands with water from the nearby river.
The gold-rich deposit was crushed in the underground galleries and the gravel was brought to the surface through dozens of vertical shafts. Those still have the holes in their walls which must have served to fix the hoisting mechanism. The shafts were also the only air inlet for the mining galleries. The gravel was then taken to the river to wash the sand away from the gold. Heaps of the rock which remained after processing can still be found in the area today. Most of the small rivers which run in the foots of Perperikon are gold-bearing themselves; and the only surviving ancient toponym is that of the gold-bearing Perpereshka.
The name Perperikon itself is strangely associated with gold-mining. The archaeological finds suggest that the mines at Stremtsi were developed in the last centuries BC and were then abandoned. During the Middle Ages, however, 11th-13th century, they were reopened. And the only surviving name of the holy city, i.e., Perperikon, dates from that period. The original version was Hyperperakion but the ancient scribes shortened it to Perperakion or Perperikon. In Greek, hyperperos or hyperpyros means fiery beyond fire or above or over fire. The word was non-existent in Byzantine Greek but had existed in Aristotle’s Greek in connection with sacrifice on an altar. The place-name then could be associated with the Dionysian rites. There is however an alternative hypothesis: In 1082, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus introduced a monetary reform to strengthen the gold monetary unit of the Empire. A considerable gold deposit was found and soon a new coin of 21? carats was struck, its name: hyperpyron or perpera. Some believe that the name came from an association with the technology of melting the gold to concentrate it. Alexius, however, was a scholar of Classical Antiquity and might have proposed the name with reference to the ancient cult.
Whether the Emperor named the city after the new gold coin because of the goldmines near Perperikon or whether the coin was named after the ancient holy city of Dionysus (whose name does not exist in earlier sources), is a question still to be answered by archaeological research.