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Bulgarian Regions

Smolyan region

smolyanSmolyan Region is situated in Southern Bulgaria. It is bounded by the regions of Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Kardzhali and Blagoevgrad, and to the south it borders on Greece. The relief in the region is mountainous, It covers the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains with venerable coniferous Forests and pastures. Near Madan there are deposits of lead and zinc ores. The main road passing through the area is the Plovdiv- "' Smolyan highway. There are a lot of rivers that cross the area, the bigger of which being the Arda, the Vacha, the Chepelare, the Varbitza, the Cherna (Black) Reka and the Devin, Mineral water springs abound in the vicinity of Devin, the villages Smolyan Bani, Beden, Mihaikovo, Lyaskovo. The beautiful Smolyan lakes are located in the Smolyan kettle, The Dospat and Vacha dams offer excellent conditions for fishing. The nature of the Rhodope Mountains is the perfect place for winter and summer tourism, rural tourism, hunting and ecotourism. Most of the populated areas are tourist centers. In the pretty villages of Momchilovtsi, Smilian, Gela, etc. one can taste traditional cuisine of the Rhodopes, hear and see the famous dances and songs of the Rhodopes. Some of the natural landmarks are the biosphere reserves of Kazanite, Soskovche, Mornchil Dol and Arnzavo, the rocky vaults of the Wonderful Bridges (Chudnite mostove), the Buinov and Trigrad gorges, the Devil's Throat (Diavolskoto Garlo), Uhlovitsa and Yagodina caves. 

The Rhodope Mountains have been praised in folk songs as the holy mountain of the Thracians, the birthplace of the mythological Rhodope singer Orpheus, whose music charmed beasts and people alike. The lands were occupied by the Thracian tribes Bessi, Coylaleti, Satrai. Vestiges of ancient fortresses that once guarded the frontiers can be found near the villages of Shiroka Laka, Smilian and Gala (Gradishteto), on Mount Turlaka. During the ottoman rule the population of the Rgodopes was forced to convert to Islam. All the churches and monasteries were destroyed, while the priests and monks were slain. Lots guerilla detachments (haidouks) lead by chieftains of Momchil, Delio, Doichin, Captain Petko, etc. Despite the hard time they had, the people of the Rhodopes managed to preserve their customs and culture. Even today there are a lot of monuments and traditions preserved from the National Revival period. Of particular interest is the Rhodope house style - high-raised stone basement above, which projects the white-painted floor. The master builders were known not only in the region. They built houses by the Aegean Sea and on the Greek islands. Smolyan Region remained within the territory of the Ottoman Empire until 1912. Smolyan

An idiosyncratic area in the Rhodopes is Rozhen where the haidouks used to roam during the years of the ottoman rule and where the spacious meadows were a host family gatherings and song contests. It is here where the distinctive band of bagpipers One Hundred Low-Tuned Bagpipes (Sto kaba gaidi) started its career and turned into the symbol of the gatherings. It is from where the Bulgarian song about haidouk Delyo performed by Valia Balkansks was sent out into the space shuttle as a message to extraterrestrial civilizations. Not far from Rozhen one can find the Rozhen astronomic observatory - the biggest one on the Balkans.

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