Kardjali is settled in the heart of Eastern Rhodopes mountain range, along the two banks of the Arda River, on both sides of which are the two big water dams – Studen kladenets to the east and Kardjali – to the south. The town on the Arda River is situated at the distance of 250 km. southeast of Sofia, 100 km. from Plovdiv and 81 km. from Assenovgrad, 66 and 50 from Dimitrovgrad and Haskovo respectively and only 15 km. north of Momchilgrad. The town is regional administrative center.
The place had been a settlement as early as 6 000 years ago. Prehistoric remains of human life as well as ample examples of the presence of Thracian, Roman and Byzantine culture have been found plus medieval Bulgarian and late – Ottoman remains. The first historical finds have been found to come from the days of the Thracian tribe “koelaleti”, subdued by the Romans during the 1 st century. Then came the Slavic tribe of the “smoleni” and during the Middle ages frequently shifted under Bulgarian or Byzantine rule. The town locality is a heir to the medieval Bulgarian town “Manyak” that demonstrated an architectural style, similar to that of Preslav, Messemvria and Tarnovo. During the middle of the 17 th century, the town was ruled by Kardjali Alla – a noted war chieftain – and it is accepted, that the town was named after him. The first mosque was raised here in 1750. During the 18 th century the town was roamed by the bloodthirsty “Kardjali” gangs, which ruined not one and two prospering Bulgarian villages. In January 1878, the Don Cossacks of General Chernobouzov freed the town. On 8 th October 1912, the soldiers of colonel Delov’s regiment freed the town for the second and last time.
The Bulgarian basilica “St. John the Precursor” ( 11 th – 12 th century) is located in the “Vselchane” quarter town. At the end of 1998 during continuing excavation a unique find was brought to the surface in it – the burial tomb a senior Christian bishop, wearing his gold – knitted clerical attire. Only three more dresses of this kind have been found in the World but this has proved to be the first find of its kind in a burial tomb. In the former “Konak” ( the Turkish town – hall built around 1870 ) with its interesting exterior architecture one can visit the Historical museum.
The Picture gallery (Republikanska str., +359 361/21619) host the works of such painter as Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master, Kiril Tsonev, Dechko Uzunov and others. Working hours : 9 – 12 a.m. and 2 – 5 p.m.
Kardjali has two theaters – the “Dimitar Dimov” theatre, located at 1 “Bulair” str. (+359 361/2648), and puppet, located at 17 “Trakia” blv. (+359 361/22013).
Places of interest nearby
The two big dams on the both sides of the town are excellent places for recreation, sport, tourism, and entertainment. Numerous country houses have been built there, restaurants and other such facilities. After the wall of the Studen kladenets (Cold Well) dam lake one can see the incredibly narrow canyon of the Arda river, called Devil's bridge.
Close to the Zimzelen village, 5 km. north – east of the town, visitors can see another natural wildest whims – the natural Kardjali pyramids.
The medieval fortress of Perperikon is located in the valley of a small river, only 7 kilometers to the south – east of the town.
Other places of interest in/near Kardjali