I have always argued that the Rhodope Mountains are not just another mountain which has beautiful landscapes and some historical findings. There is much more, they have a soul that translates into a magic that surrounds every corner of it. Today’s walk is another proof of how unique this part of Bulgaria is where the Rhodope mountains are located.
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My first destination is one of the most impressive and interesting historical monuments that have survived to this day – Asen’s fortress.
Before I visited this place, I had heard a lot of stories about it. The history of this fortress is very interesting. It has gone through different possessions throughout the ages. The Thracians are the first to build their fortification in the 5th century. After them, in the 9th century, the place was conquered by the Byzantines, functioning as a fortification guarding the borders.
But its name comes when the fortress falls under the reign of Tsar Ivan Asen II after being taken away by the Crusaders defeated in the Third Crusade. When Bulgaria fell under Ottoman domination, the fortress was destroyed and the only feature standing over the centuries in the two-store Church of the Holy Mother of God.
The first floor of the church was designed as an ossuary, but never performed this function, and the second is the church with frescoes from the 13th century. The temple is also one of the first in Eastern Orthodoxy which has a tower serving both a bell tower and an observatory.
The place is truly impressive not only because of its location but because of the features which allows us to understand how in the past people have defended themselves by building defence facilities in such places. When walking through the stone paths of the fortress site, one can feel the emotion of history that holds this place, which is not a small one, considering how many different possessions have passed.
We can only be proud, enjoy this heritage, and keep it for the next generations because it is one of the living proofs of how old and great the Bulgarian people are.
The fortress is located 2 km away from Asenovgrad, with numerous well-marked signs;
The distance from Sofia to Asenovgrad is 166 km along the Trakia motorway;
November – March:
Wednesday – Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
April – October:
Wednesday – Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm
Monday and Tuesday.
Entrance fee – 3 lev
for pupils and students – 2 lev
for groups of over 10 people – 2 levs per person
for family (2 adults and 2 children) – 7 lev
Price of a talk in Bulgarian – 4 lev
Price of a talk in English – 5 lev
I can claim that this is one of those places that must necessarily be visited at least once in a lifetime;
My next stop, by which I ended this trip, is different and more special to me as a person who has a weakness in Bulgaria’s natural heritage. I am talking about the Thracian sanctuary Belintash (many people confuse it with the sanctuary of Begliktash, which for you can read more here).
Oh, I really do not know where to start with the descriptions of this place! Firstly, I will say that we lost ourselves when we were looking for the Belintash trail, and note that Belintash is the second largest rock-cut sanctuary in Bulgaria (after Perperikon), that is, it should not be so difficult to find. Take the road that is right behind the church, which turned out to be private … a bizarre story!
The path leads through a pleasant coniferous forest that prepares you with its fresh fragrance for a mystical experience once you reach the rock formation itself. To get on it you have to go through the stairs (which I would doubt that are well secured).
Coming one time from above you will encounter a unique view, not only to the surrounding mountains and areas, but to the whole sky. There is also a intriguing explanation for this. It has been proven that the star map is very good here and that is why the place is chosen by the Thracians. They dedicated it to god Sabazius, the god of the Thracian tribe Bessie.
But the thing that kindled my curiosity is the multiple carved openings and canals that flow into two carved wells that are another proof of human activity here.
The place is exceptional and, as I mentioned earlier in the publication, the Rhodope Mountains are enchanted by magic, which gives a more special experience. Well, all this cannot keep you forever and not give you some unforgettable memories. I have always said that words can hardly describe the emotion that will bring to you these panoramas, landscapes and magical places. That is why I let the pictures talk and I challenge you to visit this place and to feel the “magic” that lies there.
To reach Belintash, take the Asenovgrad – Kardzhali road by taking the exit to the village of Cherven. In principle there are signs that will guide you but if you find it difficult to look up you can ask for guidelines at the Old Houses complex where you will leave the car and walk for about 600 meters;
The place provides an unforgettable experience in the company of the unique view it owns;
This is the perfect place for lovers of tranquility and a light dose of adrenaline;
Obligatory walking with comfortable shoes;