Gela, Pamporovo & the Rhodopes

Do you know the legend of the mythical Thracian singer Orpheus?
He played his lyre with such an inspiration that even wild beasts and trees were charmed by his music.
When you come here you will inevitably realize that it is the beauty of the nature around that inspired him.

The village of Gela is located in the Central Rhodope mountains at 1500 m above sea level just at the foot of the the most imposing peaks of the Rhodope mountains – Mt.Grand Perelik (2191 m), Mt. Orpheus (2188 m) and Mt.Tourlata (1825 m). The village is located 6 km from Shiroka Luka, 18 km from the famous Pamporovo ski resort and 30 km from the city of Smolian.

This small village has more than 3300 years of history and is considered to be one of the cradles of the European civilization. In early antiquity Gela was inhabited by the richest members of the Thracian tribe of the Bessi. The ancient Tracian fortress “Gradishte” can be seen at 5 km South of the village. In Roman times Gela was an important cultural, trade and defense center. Mt. Tourlata was a fortress whose remains can be seen on the top of the peak in our days. Pieces of the Roman roads connecting Aegean towns with the Upper Thracian Valley can be found at many places around the the village as well.

The village is famous not only as a cultural reserve but also as a health center. The fresh mountain air and the unique fion wind coming from the Egean Sea are with negative ionization which make the stay in Gela exceptionally favorable especially for people with lung diseases.
The climate in the region is considerably tempered by the southern influence. The average annual temperature is 9°C. The winter is mild; the summer, warm and fresh thanks to the local mountain breezes.
Gela is one of the sunniest places in Europe with more than 280 sunny days per year. It is not by chance that the Rojhen observatory - the 5th astronomy observatory in Europe and the largest in the Balkans, is built in the region

Although inhabited for thousands of years, the region of Gela still harbors wild places that seem to be untouched by humans. This region is a remote refuge for many exceptionally rare plants and animals. It is only here where you can see the symbol of the Rhodopes – the Orpheus flower (Heberlea rhodopaensis). This is an unique endemic and the only one of its kind worldwide - even extracted and kept in herbarium for long time it revives when replanted.
The forests around Gela abound with wild fruits, briars, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and mushrooms. There is also a great diversity of herbs and healing plants.

Scattered among 7 different hamlets, the village of Gela seems to have changed little over the last few hundred years. Local people continue to maintain a traditional rural existence working the fields by hand and tending their livestock on the surrounding meadows and pastures.
With only 98 inhabitants, 200 sheep, 20 cows and 10 goats at a territory of 18 km2, Gela is one of the loveliest places in the Rhodopes. The silence here is broken only by the ringing of cow-bells and the song of the bagpipes.
With his healthy air, quietness and engine-free routes this is the best place to visit if you want to escape the urban life.