The town has a long history, beautiful scenery and welcoming people. Situated in the Rhodope Mountains, it is the southernmost town of Bulgaria, surrounded by peaks. In the past, on the four highest peaks chapels were built. Their location is not accidental and many believe that the city is protected by heavenly power. If you connect the four chapels with imaginary lines, they draw a cross. The intersection of the lines between the tops of St. Atanas, St. Elijah, St. Constantine and Helena and St. Ekaterina focuses in the center of the town, exactly where the church Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ("Uspenie Bogorodichno") is located. Townsfolk are convinced that this is not a coincidence, and they firmly believe that the patron-saints of the chapels protect the city. According to some legends, if a sick person visits all four chapels, he will be healed by miraculous power.
Chapel "St. Atanasii the Great "
The chapel was built almost 100 years ago on one of the highest peaks near Zlatograd, and all people of Zlatograd, even children, took part in the construction. According to the legends, Saint Athanasius saved the city from an enemy attack by sending flocks of ravens to drive away the aggressor. The flocks appeared as a black cloud over the top where the chapel is today, and St. Athanasius is considered the patron saint of the golden city.
Peak/chapel Holy Sunday (‘Sveta Nedelya’)
The peak is located northwest of the city at an altitude of 865 meters. It provides an unbelievable view of the Ustra fortress, and, in cloudless weather, a good visibility as far as the White Sea. The chapel was built in 1916 by the people of Zlatograd. There are many Stories related to it. One of the most exciting ones tells about an old icon of the Virgin Mary, which was kept in the chapel. The citizens of the golden city believe that today, more than a century later, this icon is still passed on secretly from person to person to help people in need.
Chapel "St. St. Constantine and Elena"
The chapel is located west of Zlatograd near Greek borderline. Its construction was funded by the residents of the two neighbouring countries and opened on May 21, 2006, when the two patron-saints are celebrated. St. St. Constantine and Elena are considered patrons of the fire-dancers (‘nestinari’). Fire-dancing (‘nestinarstvo’) is an old Bulgarian custom, in which men and women dance onto smoldering embers carrying the icons of the two saints. A curious fact is that the dancers do not get any burns. It is definitely worth seeing.
Sacred area “Cross Woods”
Sacred area “Cross Woods” was probably settled as far back as the time of the pagan sanctuaries which were later converted into Cristian holy places. The cult of the Sun dates back from Antiquity and is later replaced by that of Jesus Christ - the creator of the world and the Sun. In Zlatograd the belief in the miraculous power of the Christian cross is deeply rooted - on four of the surrounding peaks existed pagan shrines, later converted into Christian religious sites, namely, St. Atanas (with an existing chapel), St. Elijah, St. Elena and St. Ekaterina. The imaginary lines connecting the opposite peaks form a cross, which is why local people call the whole area of the cross ‘Cross Woods’. Because of its location in this sacred zone, it is believed that Zlatograd has been and will be protected from evil.
Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This is the first church built in the Rhodopes during the Revival period as far back as 1834. It is located in the center of the city and is said to have been built on the site of a temple demolished in the 18th century. The church, built entirely of stone, has been preserved in excellent condition today. An interesting fact is that during its construction some icons were brought from as far as Mount Athos (‘The Holy Mountain’), which means that they were painted long before 1834. The church has been cultural heritage of local and national significance and artistic value since 1978. In 1835, in the northern courtyard of the religious place, the first church school was established. After a few years at the initiative of the citizens of Zlatograd, in the old part of the town, began the construction of the Mutual School,based on Lancasterian Teaching System. Today, visitors to the city can drop by feel the spirit of the Renaissance educational process.
Ethnographic Area Complex Zlatograd
The complex is among the most popular tourist attractions in the golden city. A curious fact about it is that it is the largest living open-air museum. The houses of the complex are still inhabited by people who buy from the craftsman’s shops and walk along its alleys. At night,beams of light slip through the windows and you can hear people talking inside. The complex keeps the spirit of the Renaissance, revealing to the visitors the everyday life, culture, architecture and tradition of Bulgarian people. Walking along the cobbled streets, tourists have the opportunity to visit the workshops of the saddle-maker, carver, goldsmith and observe them working. Among the most memorable attractions is the coffee shop. There you can relax and have hot coffee, prepared only on sand or the so-called "rotated coffee". You can observe it being prepared by the craftsperson, rotating the coffee pot with circular movements at 360 degrees without even spilling a drop. And, if you pluck up the courage, why not try rotating it alone?