• Safeguarded by St Ivan of Rila

      Safeguarded by St Ivan of Rila

      Amidst a picturesque beech forest at the end of a meandering road high up in the Ruen Mountain, over the small village of Skrino and near the town of Kyustendil, stands the Ruen Monastery of St Ivan of Rila. The saint after whom the monastery is named was born in that village circa 876. An older monastery, dedicated to Great Martyr St Demetrius of Thessaloniki, existed at the same place before. Experts presume that St Ivan of Rila took the monastic vows there and then started his secluded life in a cave which is preserved until today, not far away from the present monastery.

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    • Scent of figs and old wine

      Scent of figs and old wine

      The smallest Bulgarian town, Melnik - with a population of less than 200 people - was first mentioned in written sources in the early 11th century as a border point between the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria. The first to live in the region were the Thracian tribe of Medi, to which the legendary gladiator Spartacus belonged. Centuries later, the Slavs settled in the area naming the town Melnik, from the word 'mel' for white clay. It is namely clay that the fantastic red golden sand hills surrounding the town are made of.

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    • Mystical stones

      Mystical stones

      One of the most interesting rock sanctuaries in Bulgaria is located near the village of Dolna Koznitsa, in the region of Kyustendil, amidst a scenic hollow at the southern foothills of the Konyavska Mountain. Experts believe that the region was inhabited since ancient times as there are numerous excavated remains to prove it, even if no comprehensive in-depth archaeological research has been carried out there.

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    • City hidden under a city

      City hidden under a city

      Underneath the city centre of Vidin, in the north west of Bulgaria, lie the barely explored remains of the ancient Roman city of Bononia. It was not until this year that archaeologists started to excavate at least a small part of that valuable piece of ancient history. More specifically, the excavations have been focused on studying the so-called Tower No 8, located on the western fortress wall of Bononia.

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    • A mystery almost as old as Egypt's pyramids

      A mystery almost as old as Egypt's pyramids

      An underground well temple (also known as sacred pit), which is the only one of its kind found on the Balkans, is located at only 60 kilometres to the west of Sofia, hidden in the folds of the Greben Mountain. Archaeologists rank it among the most ancient cult masonry works in the Bulgarian lands and are unanimous that it is older than the Thracian megaliths of the mountains of Rhodope, Strandja and Sakar.

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    • Under the wing of God's Mother

      Under the wing of God's Mother

      Huddled in the folds of the Rhodope Mountains, in the valley of the Chepelare river, and yet located only 30 kilometres away from the town of Plovdiv, there stands Bulgaria's second largest monastery - Bachkovo. Built in the 11th century, the cloister is steeped in history and ranks among the most frequently visited sights in Bulgaria. It is believed that since its foundation in 1083, to the present day, it has never stopped functioning - not even for a single day.

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    • To see god in a lake

      To see god in a lake

      One hundred kilometres to the northeast of Sofia, by the village of Zlatna Panega, is situated one of the few sanctuaries dedicated to god Asclepius which are found on Bulgarian lands. It is located right by the Glava Panega river spring and is one the most significant and well-studied Thracian sanctuaries. The water springs from a triangular cavity and forms a small lake. The river itself is named after goddess Panacea, daughter of Asclepius, healer of all illnesses.

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    • Pautalia's Acropolis

      Pautalia's Acropolis

      On a steep hill above the town of Kyustendil, amidst a dense pine forest there stands a magnificent fortress which the locals call simply Hissarluka (from the Turkish “hisar” - fortress). Built in the times of the Roman Empire, later the fortress was used by Byzantines and Bulgarians and was razed to the ground during the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans at the end of the 14th century.

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    • Piece of paradise amidst three mountains

      Piece of paradise amidst three mountains

      Located just five kilometres away from the popular winter resort Bansko, the village of Banya (Bulgarian for Bath) is nestled in the valley formed by Mount Pirin, Mount Rila and the Rhodope Mountains. The region boasts 72 hot springs with water temperature of about 55°C (131°F), whose use for balneotherapy and treatment of various conditions has earned the village a reputation as the mineral-water paradise of Bulgaria.

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    • Bulgarian Jerusalem

      Bulgarian Jerusalem

      In the Central Rhodope Mountains near the road from Asenovgrad to Smolyan, at an altitude of 1,545 metres above sea level amidst the scenic locality of Krastova Gora, is situated a monastery dedicated to Holy Trinity. The place is believed to be miracle-working, and on the night before 14 September - Holy Cross Day according to the Bulgarian Orthodox liturgical calendar - thousands of believers from all over Bulgaria and the neighbouring countries come in crowds in the hope for miraculous healing.

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