A town with a long history, beautiful nature and friendly people. Situated in the Rhodopes, it is the southernmost town of Bulgaria, surrounded by mountain peaks. In the past, chapels were built on the four highest peaks. Their location is not accidental, and many believe that the town is patronised by a heavenly power. From the imaginary joining of the four chapels, a cross is formed. The intersection of the lines between the peaks of St. Atanas, St. Elijah, St. St. Constantine and Helena and St. Ekaterina is in the centre of the town, where Church of the Assumption is located. Its inhabitants are convinced that this is no accidental and firmly believe that the saints after whom the chapels are named protect the town. Legend has it that if a sick person visits the four chapels, he/she will be cured by a miraculous power.
St. Athanasius the Great Chapel
The chapel was built nearly 100 years ago on one of the highest peaks near Zlatograd, and the entire population of Zlatograd, even children, participated in the construction. Legend has it that Saint Athanasius saved the town from an attack by sending a flock of ravens to chase away the aggressor. The flocks appear as a black cloud above the peak where the chapel is today, and Saint Athanasius is perceived as the patron of the golden town.
St. Nedelya Peak (Sveta Nedelya)
The peak is located northwest of the town at 865 m above sea level. It offers an incredible view of the Ustra Fortress, and on a clear day you can also see the Aegean Sea. The chapel was built in 1916 by citizens of Zlatograd. There are many stories associated with St. Nedelya. One of the most exciting one tells about an old icon of the Holy Virgin, which was kept in the chapel. The residents of the golden town believe that today, after more than 100 years, this icon is still secretly passed on from person to person to help people in need.
St. St. Constantine and Helena Chapel
The chapel is located to the west of Zlatograd near neighbouring Greece. It was built with the funds of the residents of the two neighbouring countries on 21 May 2006, when the memory of the two saints is honoured. St. St. Constantine and Helena are considered the patrons of the Nestinarians (fire-dancers). Nestinarstvo (fire-dancing) is an old Bulgarian custom in which men and women dance on smouldering embers, carrying the icons of the two saints. A curious fact is that they do not get any burns. Definitely worth seeing.
The Cross Forest Sacred Area
The Cross Forest Sacred Area was probably defined since the time of the pagan sanctuaries, which were later converted into Christian places of worship. The belief in the miraculous power of the Christian cross is permanently reflected in Zlatograd – on four of the highest surrounding peaks there were pagan sanctuaries, later converted into Christian places of worship. These are: St. Atanas (with an existing chapel), St. Elijah, St. Helena and St. Ekaterina. The invisible lines connecting the opposite peaks form a kind of a cross. That is why the local population calls the entire area of the cross “Cross Forest”. Until now, it is believed that Zlatograd was and will be protected from evil – thanks to its location in this sacred area.
Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This was the first church built in the Rhodopes during the Renaissance in 1834. It is located in the centre of the town and is said to have been built on the site of a temple destroyed in the 18th century. Built entirely of stone, the church has been preserved in excellent condition to this day. An interesting fact is that during its construction, icons were brought from Mount Athos, which means that they were created long before 1834. The church has been declared an immovable cultural property of local importance and artistic value since 1978. In 1835, the first church school was established in the northern courtyard of the monastery. After a few years, on the initiative of the citizens of Zlatograd, the construction of the monitorial system school, which is located in the old part of the town, began. Today, visitors of the town can visit it and immerse themselves in the educational process from the time of the Bulgarian National Revival.
Zlatograd Ethnographic Area Complex
The complex is among the most popular tourist spots in the golden town. A curious fact about it is that it is the largest open-air museum that is alive at the same time. People still live in its houses, shopping in the workshops and walking along the alleys. In the evening, light filters through the windows and speech echoes in the rooms. The complex preserves and keeps the spirit of the Bulgarian National Revival alive, revealing to visitors the lifestyle, culture, architecture and tradition of the Bulgarian people. Walking along the cobbled streets, tourists have the opportunity to visit the workshops of the carpenter, the carver, the goldsmith, and touch their craft. Among the most memorable attractions is the café. There you can relax and sip hot coffee made on sand only or the so-called “vartyano” coffee – the craftsperson rotates the coffee pot with at 360 degrees without even spilling a drop. And, if you pluck up the courage, why not try rotating it alone?
The Madan Municipality is located in the southeastern part of the Western Rhodopes and occupies the Zhalti Dyal part of the Upper Arda region along the Madanska, Arda and Cherna rivers. It borders the lands of Smolyan, Rudozem, Zlatograd, Nedelino, Ardino and Banite. The average altitude of the area is 700 m.
Madan Municipality, as one of the ten municipalities in Smolyan Province, unites 44 settlements. The population of the municipality is 10,225 inhabitants (according to data from the last census). The town is 275 km away from Sofia, 120 from Plovdiv, 60 from Kardzhali and 30 km from Smolyan.
Kechi Kaya Area
Also called Koznik, the Kechi Kaya Fortress is one of the most mysterious fortresses in our country. The fortress is located above one of the main roads, which in the past connected Thrace with the Aegean Sea. It was part of the fortress observation and security system of the Rhodopes. The Beadnos and Aetos fortresses, Momchilova Fortress and Asenova Fortress had a similar purpose.
Geographically, Nedelino Municipality occupies part of the central southern part of the Middle Rhodopes and covers an area of 102.3 square metres at an altitude of 450 to 1,200 meters. The town of Nedelino is located about 60 km away from the regional centres of Smolyan (65 km) and Kardzhali (63 km) and 165 km from the town of Plovdiv. To the south, the municipality borders the Zlatograd Municipality, to the east – the Dzhebel Municipality, to the north and northwest with – the Ardino Municipality, to the west and southwest – Madan Municipality. It includes a total of 16 settlements – town of Nedelino and the villages of Burevo, Varli dol, Varlino, Garnati, Dimanovo, Dunia, Izgrev, Kozarka, Kochani, Kundevo, Elenka, Krayna, Ogradna, Sredets, Tanka bara. The Nedelino Municipality takes 3.2% of the territory of the Smolyan Province, which has an area of 3,192.9 square km.
Nedelino was declared a town by Decree No. 1942 of 17/09/1974, this is also the official date of the official town holiday, but because Nedelino is also known for its unique two-part singing (a festival is held every year), usually the municipality combines the town holiday with the Festival of Two-part Singing and Folk Songs with international participation, taking place simultaneously on the first Saturday and Sunday of September each year.
The Bezdannik Pool, located along the Bureska River valley, is a deep pit, which is a natural phenomenon created from water-carved forms in a rock bed. Legend has it that people drowned here, and since they never surfaced, it is called “”Abysmal”” (Bezdannik). It is currently designated as a natural attraction with built tourist infrastructure.
St. Nedelya Church – built with funds from donors, mainly people working abroad, and from the Future for Bulgaria Foundation, with modern architecture and icon paintings in very good condition.
Nikolay Kaufman Town Park – it is located in the central part of Nedelino. There is a memorial plaque to the discoverer of the phenomenon “”Nedelinski two-part singing”” (Nedelinski dvuglas) and a memorial sign at the place where the Jews of the 3rd labour group performed forced slave labour in the period 1941-1944.
Turchin Most Area – Turchin Most is the historical monument at the emblematic for Nedelino place. Legend has it that all the inhabitants who refused to accept Islam and surrendered their faith were thrown into the Nedelino River from here. Festive celebrations are organised on St. George’s Day at Turchin Most.