Satellite
Show on map
  • Day5

    Rila Monastery and Melnik

    May 21, 2019 in Bulgaria ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    We started our tour of Bulgaria today with our driver/guide Nadya.

    We left Sofia at 9am for the drive south, first stop Rila Monastery, the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.
    First built in the 10th century, the wooden structure was all but destroyed by fire in 1833 - the only part to survive was Hrelyu's tower, because it was made of stone. It is ornately decorated inside and out and is still a working monastery, currently home to 20 monks.

    The afternoon drive to Melnik was through lush green countryside, beginning with a new freeway, then onto narrow roads through numerous villages. Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria, population 390, surrounded by sandstone pyramids and famous for its wine production.

    We visited the largest Revival-era building in Bulgaria, Kordopulova House, a 4 storey mansion built in 1754, which still operates as a family owned winery. It's like a Bond villain's house, complete with a secret cupboard in the dining room which leads to a hidden stairway to the roof - perfect for a quick escape if the business deal is going bad - and 180m of underground passageways.

    After some wine tasting we walked up to a couple of churches on top of the pyramids, which conveniently also had a cache, and had dinner at a local restaurant in the main street (the town really only has one street)
    Read more