SPA and Culture in the Western Rhodopes

Unique architectural monuments and abundant mineral springs

The ever so fascinating Rhodope Mountain boasts impressive slopes with centuries-old lush forests, crystal clear brooks and creeks and the finest crisp mountain air. This scenic part of Bulgaria solicitously keeps a myriad of traditions, customs, songs and legends of bravery and heroes. The Western part of the Rhodope Mountains is notorious for its numerous mineral springs and excellent conditions for spa therapy and balneology, emblematic historical events and preserved architectural monuments.


Resorts such as Velingrad, Ognyanovo, Bratsigovo, Krayselsko, Varvara and many more, allure the visitors with their numerous mineral springs. Spa and balneotherapy have been known for millennia in these lands. Mineral springs are known to have been used by the Thracians, probably because of their focus of worship at waters, and the Romans. There are preserved inscriptions on remains of ancient buildings that express gratitude to the healing powers of the mineral waters and the patron deities of thermal springs.


The region of the Western Rhodopes offers an abundance of popular and less-known places with suitable conditions for spa and balneotherapy, specific climate and spa facilities. Velingrad is considered the largest spa resort and balneotherapy center of the Balkans. Its mineral waters have integrated use – for spa treatment, drinking and geothermal heating. On the other hand, Bratcigovo’s waters, in certain cases, are rather more appropriate for drinking during the course of treatment. There’s evidence for the use of mineral waters in the region of Ognyanovo, near Gotse Delchev town, as early as the Antiquity, found in the remains of the ancient Roman fortress and the ruins of the Roman town of Nicopolis ad Nestrum /4th century AD/.  The village has 24 thermal springs with water temperatures in the range of 39-40 Cº. There are seven more springs in the neighboring village of Krayselsko. Well-known for the quality of their waters are Momin prohod town, the village of Kostenets and the Pchelinski bani Resort, located nearby.


Another destination in the Western Rhodopes, again related to water, is the town of Dospat and the dam of the same name. The history of Dospat is associated with remains of 4- 5th century BC .The Dospat dam area offers mesmerizing scenery and opportunities for active recreation. The villages of Dolen, Kovachevitsa and Leshten are nearby.


The biosphere reserves "Dupkata", "Mantaritsa", "Kupena", whose mission is to protect dozens of rare plant and animal species, are located in the Western Rhodopes as well.


The abovementioned villages of Dolen, Kovachevitsa and Leshten are entrusted with the mission of safeguarding some unique architectural sights and monuments of historical importance. Almost every house in Kovatchevitsa, Garmen municipality, is an original piece of vernacular architecture. Because of the inherited unique type of construction, the village is architectural and historical museum. Most of the houses have been restored. The narrow streets are still cobbled, just like in the old times. The entire appearance of this fascinating village earned it the nickname "Bulgarian Hollywood" because of the many movies filmed there.


A unique “direct hit", on the road to Kovachevitsa, would be a “mandatory” visit of Leshten, also an architectural reserve with many enchanting old houses, restored and adapted for rural tourism.


Another architecture monument worthwhile is the village of Dolen, Satovcha municipality. Together the typical houses of the “Bulgarian Revival”- some with beautifully carved ceilings, the narrow cobbled streets, the beautiful church from 1837 with its exquisite carvings, create the special kind of magnetism of the village.


Tsepina – a medieval fortress near Velingrad, is reminiscent of times long past in these places. More information about the old inhabitants of the western Rhodopes is available at the unique Pliocene park near the village of Dorkovo. The largest habitat of mastodons in Europe, with over 30 species of animals was found here - an absolutely priceless find.

View the Sites

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    Located in the Western Rhodopes, the village of Kovachevitsa has preserved its authentic 18-19th century appearance and will carry you to the peaceful atmosphere of that time.

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    Architectural Reserve - the village of Leshten

    The authentic look and genuine spirit of Leshten win every visitor’s heart.

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    Nicopolis ad Nestum, the village of Garmen

    In the village of Garmen, near the town of Gotse Delchev, ancient remnants can virtually be seen at every turn.

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    "St. Nicholas" Church

    The progressive people of Kovachevitsa built a large and impressive church several years before the Liberation of Bulgaria from five centuries of Ottoman rule.

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    Medieval fortress of Tsepina

    The medieval fortress of Tsepina is located in South Bulgaria, northwest of the village of Dorkovo in the municipality of Rakitovo.

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    "St. Paraskeva" Church

    The white building of the church "St. Paraskeva "really strands out against the background of dozens of Revival style houses perched on hills of Leshten.