Eastern Rodopas -The Cradle of ancient culture


Bike expedition through the East Rodopi

3 days, 142 km covered distance, about 70 participants from All 4 corners of Bulgaria in the bike expedition .
What you need :
area – a non profit organisation having for a goal to develop bike tourism as an alternative form of travelling through the country.
You can read a great article about the whole trip – unfortunately the text is only in bulgarian so what you can do is check out the breathtaking photos from the gallery East Rhodopas photo gallery

  • Pros:Beautiful Immaculate Nature
  • Cons:the area is has not yet a tourist place this means lack of signs for orientation, some villages don’t have name signs, people are mostly turkish population, very nice and simple
  • In a nutshell:Beautiful Immaculate Nature, Please let’s preserve it.

The Start


photo Hristo Todev

The trip started around noon,when we arrived at Komuniga Village,after we had unpacked and put together bikes and tires. The pouring rain that greeted us there was not very promising, but It stopped after awhile and we set sails with the wind….



the end of the trip
Known as the last refuge for rock vultures in Bulgaria

Website: http://www.nasamnatam.com/statia/Madjarovo_vryzka_s_divata_priroda-1643.html

A tunnel of green

2250188-a_tunnel_of_green-iztochni_rodopiThan the road continued in a tunnel of green , descending at places steeply in direction of the Dam wall of Studen Kladenetz. It started raining, and rained all the way through the evening. The rest of the trip was a dirty muddy ride through small villages, with the most remembering moment , a shepherd dog that decided to start chasing and barking at me while I was pedaling uphill. A horror memory…as I thought he almost caught me , when he just gave up and turned back. I have to specify that I was all alone at that moment of the trip.

Directions: On the way to Studen Kladenets dam wall.

The Stone wedding

2248737-the_stone_wedding-iztochni_rodopiA natural stone formation, result to the geological past of the region.The Mountains were believed to be an ocean ground once.
The legend about the “stone wedding “says that the gods petrified the bride, the groom and the whole wedding procession, because of the groom father’s sin , who fell in love with the bride and wished to have her for himself.
What I find amazing is that all the surrounding stones are white,and only the bride and the groom are in a soft pink tone.


The temple complex of Perperikon

2238918-archeology_perperikon_the_temple_of_dyonysus-bulgariaWhat I found on top of the hill was enormous….Not a temple, but a whole city….
here’s what you can read on the sign at the bottom of the hill at the start of the trail leading you to Perperikon -“Traveler from distant lands, Welcome to Perperikon!
Once upon a time here was the temple of Dionissius, that was not less famous than the temple of Apollo in Delphi. Here Alexander the Great knew that he will conquer the world, and it was taught to the romans that they will become an empire.
Bow your head before the memory of the people, that have inhabited 8000 years ago the hill in front of you.”….
It’s always great to be the only visitor of such a site. Even the sun looked through the clouds , jumping from stone to stone with its playful rays …
Visit the official Perperikon site and choose the flash version for a mystic trip in our ancient lands , mythology and history and music.

Website: http://www.perperikon.bg

“Po Jitsata” – Jordan Yovkov

2240585-po_jitsata_jordan_yovkov-iztochni_rodopi“Po Jitsata” – Jordan Yovkov. My mind makes sometimes the most unexpected associations , go figure where he comes up with all this…
But this is one of the most famous books from the Bulgarian Revival period writer Jordan Yovkov.

On the road again

2250152-on_the_road_again-iztochni_rodopiAfter filling myself with impressions and energy from Perperikon I jumped on my bike and headed on the road with my thoughts as company…..Even tho I was on my own there were always people from the group that you will catch up, or others that will pass by arriving from the back.So you are actually never alone.
You can see here the Village sign on both languages , very useful indeed

Directions: Rhodopa mountains

the Tin Mosque

2248088-the_tin_mosque-iztochni_rodopiThis strange mosque was in the village of Kanjak and it’s a Tin box with a cone roof and a loudspeaker. A ladder takes the Hodja to the top.
It reminds me of a bird’s house somehow…
Population in the Rhodopa Mountains is muslim. That’s why you will see a mosque , sometimes two in every village. The bulgarian book of history says that these Bulgarian people were forced under Turkish Occupation times to convert to Islam under threat of being murdered if refused. Alot of bulgarians and their families were assasinated for not accepting to change their religion.

Directions: Lost somewhere in the Rhodopas

The petrified city

2402356-the_petrified_city-iztochni_rodopiThere you go , my weird mind popped with this association of a petrified city, inhabited by strange stone creatures.
not my pictures >
There were stone arches, stone houses, stone streets,stone mushrooms with mysterious niches….everything you need for a city of the Flinstones….hahahhahaha
There is a hypothesis that this was once a sea port.

After the petrified city came the arrow lake

2248201-after_the_petrified_city_came_the_arrow_lake-iztochni_rodopiAfter the petrified city came the arrow lake – The Dam Kurjali. Take a look at the shape of it, pointing to you….;)))
On some point we crossed the city of Kurdjali with its dam and turkish population where the road had collapsed as a result of heavy rain.

Directions: Dam Kurdjali in the Rhodopas

Day two – Krushka Village

2240583-day_two_krushka_village-iztochni_rodopiI left the campsite before everyone, because I didn’t want to be the last one like yesterday.2402327-day_two_krushka_village-iztochni_rodopi
Following the instructions I passed through the village and some abandoned house in the way to the valley and it’s where I got lost… I took the right trail instead of the left one and after awhile I realized I was going back to the village. So I followed my steps to the crossing point and took the left trail this time…

Directions: At the exit of Kroushka village

The entrance of ” Utrobata” cave


photo P.Petkova

The entrance of the cave was nothing I had expected. You need to climb in a crack and hang on a tree ,some 2-3 meters above the ground in order to enter the cave, plus there are no signs to direct your way….If I wasn’t with people that knew where they were going, I would walk by without notice it.
hehehehe…cool socks I have ,what do u say?

“Utrobata” cave

2117181-utrobata_cave-iztochni_rodopiThe name ” Utrobata” Is litteraly translated as “Vagina”. I think you already see why….
It was used as a cult place by the thracians living in these lands centuries ago. They had improved the form of their sanctuary giving its perfect shape. The rituals dedicated to fertility included lots of wine consumption, ending up with a mass orgy to favorize the pagan gods.
Perperikon website about a similar cave
“here can be no doubt that this is the rock womb whose existence had been suggested on the basis of the fragmentary evidence found in ancient records. This was the place where the Orphic rite reached its climax. It was in such an Orphic temple on the island of Samothrace (modern Greek Samothráki) in the Aegean Sea off the Thracian coast that, according to the ancient authors, unmarried men who were initiated in the cult (the abi?tikos) performed sexual rituals with young Thracian women.
The meaning of these orgies is archetypal. According to the Indo-Iranian tradition, the King died and was reborn again as a manifestation of the natural cosmic cycle. To do this, he had to climb high in the mountain and slaughter a sacrificial animal or another human, enacting his own death. He then entered into symbolic matrimony with the Mother Goddess, fecundated her and was thereby reborn. This is the ancient myth of the Lover Son, born by the Mother Goddess, who returns to her womb by the act of copulation.”

Bikes parking place


photo Hristo Todev

we Dropped our bikes to rest and walked a few minutes to reach the “Utrobata” cave.

A lonely house on the ridge

2117138-a_lonely_house_on_the_ridge-iztochni_rodopiIt seemed like a shepard’s house to me. We have been warned about a guy being raising 40 dogs. Might have been that one . Lucky for us, the dogs were locked or elsewhere.

Arriving at Perpericon at sunset

2249766-arriving_at_perpericon_at_sunset-iztochni_rodopiAfter a pleasant downhill among fields and some road , me and my friend arrived at sunset at Perperikon , where our camp will be for the night. The guys took a shortcut way , but as I have been told I will need to carry my bike for about an hour, I voted for the other path…good choice – the ride was very panoramic and relaxing, even tho longer with about an hour….

Directions: Perperikon – the mysterious temple complex

Website: http://www.perperikon.bg

The river to be crossed..

2248134-the_river_to_be_crossed-iztochni_rodopiThis was the river to be crossed, no bridge of course, but no high waters either….
2402376-the_river_to_be_crossed-iztochni_rodopiThat’s when a part of the group joined me, as I felt relief that I am on the right way, and not being lost again.2402386-the_river_to_be_crossed-iztochni_rodopi

We built our Camp


photo Hristo Todev

After an insane downhill ride from Utrobata cave through some steep trail full of rocks, mud,running water and some more miles through cow herds , a bridge and some asphalt road,we arrived at out end goal for the day – Kroushka village. We built the tents as the sky was preparing to rain over us and the strong wind wanted to stop our attempts to built a campfire.

Donkeys and carriage

2248095-donkeys_and_carriage-iztochni_rodopiThis is the most common form of transportation in the Rhodopes, even tho what is unusual here is that the donkey is being ridden. Usually the people are sitting in the back in the carriage. We often switched asphalt roads with Black roads like this one.
Very ecological indeed.

The Stone village

2117112-the_stone_village-iztochni_rodopiHodjovtsi village is perched on a mountain ridge , being accessed only by a pedestrian trail. I haven’t seen any other road leading there. They had a magnificent view to the whole valley of green. The few houses of the village were all made out of stone,the fences,the roofs,the narrow street with a stone arch….. time had stopped here about 200 years ago…

A colorful Rhodopa cow

2250172-a_colorful_rhodopa_cow-iztochni_rodopiSomewhere on the way we met this beauty – a colorful Rhodopa cow.

Directions: Rhodopa Mountains

An old Graveyard

2117118-an_old_graveyard-iztochni_rodopiIs it an ancient graveyard or some pagan cult place?

Dam Studen Kladenec /means “cold pond” /

2250161-dam_studen_kladenec_means_cold_pond_-iztochni_rodopiThe dam is big and I particularly liked the island in the middle that you see on the photo…A good place to have a property .

A giant flute?

2250160-a_giant_flute-iztochni_rodopiEven tho it looks like a giant flute, this is a watering point for cattle. It’s just the shape that is unusual ;)))

Directions: Rhodopa mountains

Signs only in Bulgarian

2250157-signs_only_in_bulgarian-iztochni_rodopiSomewhere deep in the land the signs are only in Bulgarian . This one says – Village Kanyak, road with decreased capacity.

Day three – Perperikon


The street leading to the temple

It was raining during the night and small drops were still pouring out of the sky in the morning…
I decided to crawl out of the tent and as long as I am here , to go visit the Mystical town.
I did not find anyone to join me , as the camp was still sleeping , so I started climbing the hill on my own and arrived to the stone street leading to the complex. It was looking more like a giant stairway and brought associations to the Maya and Inca pyramids

Website: http://www.perperikon.bg

Having a shower

2249780-having_a_shower-iztochni_rodopiAfter the long ride, baby was having a well deserved shower with a plastic bottle after sweating all day long…
We build the tents , had a dinner as the weather was getting chilly and the clouds were crawling up the sky.

Another village on the road

2248729-another_village_on_the_road-iztochni_rodopiI can’t remember all the villages I passed by, neither the name of this one . All I know is that we were getting close to our camp place for the day and I was running out of energy….

Directions: Lost somewhere in the Rodopa mountains

 we had strong guardian angels

2402410-i_guess_we_had_strong_guardian_angels-iztochni_rodopiI guess we had strong guardian angels, as nobody from the group of 50 persons got really hurt, and except an incident with a guy that really wanted to see how the river below looks, and slipped for about half a meter or one meter from what I’ve heard of the story, it all was good…2402411-i_guess_we_had_strong_guardian_angels-iztochni_rodopi

Dangerous place! Beware!!

After following the trail in the woods for some time, we arrived at a sharp, steep and slippery turn where you were wondering if it happens you take a wrong step, where will you end? Probably some 20-30 meters down in the river….Brrrr…Not a pleasant idea.

A turtoise

2248147-a_turtoise-iztochni_rodopiI almost ran with my bike over the turtoise, as she was standing on the trail, had to remove her from there for safety reasons….Imagine what could happen if she runs over a Mountain biker….

Directions: In the middle of the trail

A village in the eastern Rhodopas

2248080-a_village_in_the_eastern_rhodopas-iztochni_rodopiA typical sight for the Eastern Rhodopas
The Eastern Rhodopa mountains are composed of rather soft and round hills , with groups of houses spread everywhere, forming tiny villages that are even hard to be found on the map. You need a very detailed one to locate some of them…

Directions: All over the eastern Rhodopas

The road cotinued…

2248114-the_road_cotinued-iztochni_rodopiStill on my own , after walking on a steep rocky side of the valley, following the instructions I had to make it down to the river and cross it at its junction with another water way….You imagine that I was too scared to ride on the bike downhill as this was my first outdoor experience with such a vehicle….so I walked…

Spring labor

2248106-spring_labor-iztochni_rodopiThese locals were planting tobacco – it’s what they said. The man was with bare feet working the soil and the woman putting the small plants and watering them.There are no machines – everything is done by hand like their mothers, and the mothers of their mothers…
The women in the area were all wearing those XXL baggy pants, that a friend of mine said are very comfortable.

The Tradition of Building water sources

2248091-the_tradition_of_building_water_sources-iztochni_rodopiThere is a belief among the population in Rhodopa that building a water source can purify from past sins. So you will find drinkable water everywhere, no need to worry about this.

Fire show in the Rhodopas


photo Borislav Denizov

And after the sun set down and we all had our dinner, I went in the tent sleeping as I was dead with fatigue.
I missed the fire show….I just saw this pic after we all came back in Sofia and got angry at myself that I’ve slept by such a performance. Will know for next time…

2121676-crystal_stone_from_the_rhodopes_iztochni_rodopiA stone I find on the trail looking like a crystal on the innside

Theme: Hobbies

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2 thoughts on “Eastern Rodopas -The Cradle of ancient culture

    1. Hi,
      it was really unforgettable! The people, the adventure, the feeling…I will keep it in my heart. Thank you for passing by ´:)

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