Charm and romance and other things to do in Destination Bulgaria
Destination Bulgaria – Melnik – beauty, emotions, antiquity!
A quiet place, a mountain, rich history, coziness, stunning scenery, rich wine… This is what the thousands-year-old Melnik offers, and may be more. Well, a romantic and full of charm in Destination Bulgaria.
The smallest town in Bulgaria, Melnik is situated 130 km away from the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia, among the scenery of the Sand Pyramids of Melnik in the south-western slopes of the southern part of Pirin. It attracts with its ancient history, monasteries, natural landscapes… And its wine, of course, for which the locals claim that even Sir Winston Churchill had tried it and estimated its merits appropriately;-)
If you wonder what are the things to do in Bulgaria, remember this small town and its wine, get your family or friends, travel to Bulgaria, Melnik and indulge in a glass or two of wine.
Once a very lively place and an important trading centre, today this romantic place comprises of around 230 people and that makes it the smallest town in Bulgaria. That doesn’t make it less interesting, though. It even adds to the charm and magic of the place.
The Sand Pyramids – another reason to enjoy a Destination Bulgaria
Supposedly, the name of Melnik comes from the Slavonic word ‘Mel’, which means white clay. The first inhabitants of the place were the Thracians, followed by the Romans – a few centuries later (a Roman bridge can still be seen today), and after them came the Slavs and they named the place ‘Melnik’ because of the peculiar, natural Sand Pyramids.
The Sand Pyramids – they are rock formations scattered over an area of 50 square kilometres. More than 4-5 million years ago, at the place where the today Pyramids are, there used to be a big flat lake. On the bottom of the lake, with the time, clay and sandy materials had been deposited.
For thousands of years different processes took place, the result of which are the Melnik Pyramids – one of the most interesting natural attractions in Bulgaria. These fantastically sculpted rocks have assumed the most varied shapes and details, resembling stone mushrooms, haystacks, minarets, alpine ridges and peaks, swords, obelisks, Egyptian pyramids, and so forth. The Melnik Pyramids were declared a natural landmark in 1960. Not only that but these same Pyramids that surround Melnik from all its sides, hold the wine cellars where the wine – this famous elixir is kept to ripen and mature. Decide on a Bulgaria vacation, Melnik and you can enjoy the wine there.
History and architecture are another part of the picturesque Melnik. An important part that makes the place, together with the nearby Rozhen monastery (only 7 km away from Melnik), a natural and historical reserve. In the beginning of XIII c., Melnik became the capital of the Independent Feudal Kingdom of despot Alexius Slav, the ruins of whose fortress can still be seen today in the town. During his reign, Melnik reached glamorousness.
Many churches and monasteries
Many churches and monasteries were built. In one of the churches of that time – ‘St. Nicholas’, the oldest bells on the Balkan Peninsula from the beginning of the XIII c. were found. These two bells can be seen today in the National Historical Museum in Sofia. Another monastery, first ‘The Mother of God Spileotissa’ and later, after the XVII c., ‘St. Zona’ is related to motherhood. Today a small chapel can be seen in the yard of the big monastery and it is active. The symbol is the red thread which the women from Melnik carry with them and which, after being sanctified, is given away for health and obtaining a baby.
Among other things to do in Bulgaria is a monastery of olden days and an interesting one – ‘St. Antonius the Great’. What makes it interesting and mystic is a column with a chain. The place and Melnik, particularly, was used to tame the ones who were raving mad. There is the icon of the saint Antonius. It is a mysterious one because of the different expressions the saint shows to the visitors. Once, the saint from the icon looked at a woman so angrily and it even didn’t let her get closer. The sexton had to pray to calm the saint down.
Destination Bulgaria – ‘You are welcome in the house of the Kordopulovs’ – treat yourselves with a travel to Bulgaria and a glass of wine rich in taste
During the Renaissance – end of XIV and beginning of XIX century, Melnik is famous for the good wine it produced. The wine was known all over Europe and was exported around Europe. Merchants were selling wine and in return were getting fabrics, food, and weapon. The biggest and most known family for wine producing were the Kordopulovs. They were making wine and trading with it. Their house is still reserved and it can be seen today. There is an exhibition inside of the house arranged as a cellar in the form of a tunnel dug in the rock with huge vats for storing Melnik wine, which visitors can taste if they want.
Kordopulov’s house was built in 1758. The curious fact about the house is that it is supposed to be the biggest residential building on the Balkan Peninsula from the Revival period. One will be impressed by the architecture. The pearl of the house is the reception room having twenty four windows with Venetian stained glass facing the four directions of the world and bringing the message ‘You are welcome in the house of the Kordopulovs’. What you will also see there is fine wood carvings and drawn ornaments on cupboards and ceilings. Another notable thing about the Kordopulov’s house is the enormous wine – cellar. At present the house is a private museum. Travel to Bulgaria, enjoy the view, the wine and other things to do in Bulgaria, Melnik.
Today people in Melnik still make their living by growing vineyards and producing wine. That locally made wine, which has an ancient foresty taste is found only in the towns and villages here. The sun, the warmth, the sandstone, combined with very little rain and, of course, the sort of grapes that can be found in Melnik only and the region, make the land ideal for the late ripening grapes that grow in the vineyards here. What made the Melnik wine so successful? All the things mentioned above and, of course, like local people say, its intoxicating bliss. Or maybe you come and find out for yourselves.
Nearby Melnik is the biggest monastery in the Pirin region – the Rozhen monastery. It was built in 1890. Fine fescoes, amazing wood carvings. Each step you take on the path to the Rozhen Monastery offers a new breath-taking view, created by master Nature and her paintbrush, the Wind/Erosion.
Smallest town in Bulgaria
Melnik – the smallest town in Bulgaria. A town famous for the impressive Sand Pyramids and the wine produced in the region (only two of the things to do in Bulgaria). Scenery that leaves you breath-taken. You visit Bulgaria and Melnik once and you like to go back there again and again. You feel like you are drunk after visiting this lovely place. Drunk with the wine, which even Churchill tasted? Or maybe drunk with the beauty, emotions and antiquity that Melnik offers…