Smolyan, Pamporovo & the Rhodopes

The town of Smolyan (34 641 inhabitants, 850 to 1050 m above sea level) is scattered in the narrow gorge of the river Cherna, in the most beautiful part of the Rhodopes. It is about 260 km away from Sofia, 103 km from Plovdiv, 46 km from Devin and 16 km south of the Pamporovo resort. In 1960 the three neighbouring villages of Smolyan, Raikovo and Ustovo merged in a town, which was named Smolyan. Smolyan's residential area (the highest) is the successor of the vanished village of Ezerovo, which was situated 3 km above the town, amidst the Smolyan lakes .

History

During the period of the attempts to convert the native population to Mohammedanism (17th c), some of the inhabitants were killed, others ran to the mountains and those who adopted the Muslim religion populated the areas along Cherna River, where the modern residential area lies. The Turks named this new settlement Pashmakli. The name of Smolyan was given to this neighbourhood after the Liberation and it came out of the name of the Slavonic tribe of Smoleni. “Raikovo” residential area developed as a craftsmanship village. “Ustovo” residential area became an important market centre.

Landmarks

The Revival age houses of Meramovi, Sarievi and a couple of other.
The overarched bridge across Cherna River built in the beginning of 18 th century.
The Planetarium is the biggest in Bulgaria.
The Museum of the History of Mid-Rhodope mountain possesses more than 150 000 exhibits - “New Centre” Complex. The city Art Gallery accommodates thousands of masterpieces of artists and sculptors- “New Centre” Complex.
The Pangalova House – valuable architectural monument of culture dating back to 1860.

Alibeev Konak - an old residential and economic activity complex. Memorial-Bone vault was inaugurated in honour of the inhabitants of Raikovo, who died for the Liberation. “St. Nedelya” Church (1836) has a richly ornamented iconostasis and the Mazolevs Fountain .
Mednikarska Charshiya – the old coppersmith marketplace The Hadjiivanovs House, which provided shelter to the headquarters of the Russian troops in the region during the Liberation War (1877-1878) The Sheremetevs, Òankovs, Hadjichonovs Houses are also within this area. “St.Nikola” Church is remarkable with its plentiful, rich wall painting and original architecture. The Rhodope Drama Theatre is successfully functioning.

Surrounding Areas

16 km to the north, up above the town is one of the biggest Bulgarian winter resorts – Pamporovo.
10 km west of the centre of the town is the region of the Smolyan lakes, known as the “emerald eyes of the Rhodope mountain”. They totaled 20 in number, but presently there are only 7 lakes. The largest one of them –the so-called “clear lake”- is also the deepest and the most beautiful. Chaired rope lift to Snejanka peak, passing close to some picturesque vertical rocks. The Smolyan waterfall is 20 meters high and is in the immediate surroundings southwest of the town. 27 km south of Smolyan, in the valley of the river Arda , is the village of Mogilitza. It has beautiful renaissance style houses, but the most interesting building is that of the Agushev's konak, built in 1843. It has 221 windows, 86 doors and 24 chimneys. This is a splendid piece of art of an unknown Rhodope master, whose right hand was cut by Agush, the owner of the Konak, according to the legend, to be sure that the master will not built another similar masterpiece of art. This is the only preserved medieval feudal castle on the Balkan Peninsula.
24 km from Smolyan one can find the ethnographic and architectural reserve - Shiroka Luka. There are some 20 caves in the vicinity of the village, the most interesting of them being the Uhlovitsa cave famous for its miraculous cascade lakes at a distance of 3 km east of the village. The cave is easily accessible.

Photogallery