NATURE LANDMARKS

ROCK SANCTUARY "BELINTASH"


Thracian sanctuary Belintash is located in Dobrostan mountains, the high part of Asenovgrad.
municipality. It is about 30 km. southeast from the town. The monument is the subject of scientific interest for specialists since 1975.
The rock plateau is about 300 meters long and 40 meters wide and its height is 50 meters. Belintash - a compound word from Bulgarian 'belan', which means white and beautiful in Rhodope dialect and Turkish "tash" - stone, hence translated means White or Beautiful stone. Some simply call it " The Rhodope Stonehenge." .

Chronological life of the sanctuary is determined from the end of the Chalcolithic period to the end of the fourth century - the beginning of the V century AD. Perhaps it was "ancient observatory" where priests from the local Thracian tribe Bessi predicted the future in the stars. Carved by human hands, in antiquity, rough steps lead to the rock plateau, dotted with hundreds of small and larger pits - probably sacrificial altars of the priests. Belintash is associated with the cult of Thracian god of the sun - Sabazios. Although the sacral functions of Belintash have different interpretations, it is obvious that the area was the most actively used in the first millennium BC, despite the highly advanced ancient civilization that existed in these parts long ago. The origination was laid 3-4 thousand years BC.

Belintash has its biblical legend; The Flood waters have reached this point and the Noahs ark was anchored here in the great stone ring, which is carved into the rock, and the researchers have long been searching the sanctuary of Dionysus the god of wine around here. According to some archaeologists Belintash was central shrine for all Thracians, not just sanctuary associated with the cult of Dionysus. But whatever the truth is, it is clear that Belintash is not an individual phenomenon. It is a pearl in the necklace of holy places in this part of the Rhodope Mountains, home of the tribe Bessi, carriers of knowledge, whose priests were revered by all Thracians.

How to get there?

From Plovdiv to Asenovgrad drive off in direction Kardzhali, pulls to the right through Cherven village crossing the village; passing through you will see a sign that diverges to the right from the main road. Follows Gornoslav village, then through Oreshets village. At the village fork to Mostovo village go left (Mostovo is to the right), reach to the junction of neighborhoods Vrata and Kabata. The road to Kabata and "The Old House" complex is right.

For Belintash turned left, passing through Vrata neighborhood, then reached fork to Tri Mogili village, which has a covered waiting area, goes right (there is a sign). This is very important, otherwise bypassing Belintash. Starting on the left goes to Chotrova fountain ... To this place with cars, then - for Chotrova fountain and Chotrova house right ahead, but for Belintash - right and up. The pathway goes up the hill and a few minutes later reached the top of the cliff. It is important to walk up the hill, not the right path, which is going to holiday village Sabazios. Passes through beautiful pine forest, there is place with very old strange tree as if the trunk is carved and it grows. Then there are two semi arches of stone and finally Belintash ...

Information: www.poblizo.com
Photos author: Christina Milanova



ROCK PHENOMENON "KARADZHOV KAMAK" (KARADZHOV STONE)


Karadzhov kamak can be reached in about hour and half walk, starting from the Krastova Forest to direction of Holly fountain. Sanctuary itself consists of two high rocks, among which seems to be stuck eponymous stone.

The legend associated with the name of the stone says that small cave beneath it served as a shelter of Karadzha chieftain from Yavorovo village. He fought for justice and revenge on the Turks for their relentless attacks in the area. The famous rock massif has a length of 400 meters and its highest point is 20 meters.

It is available from one side using ladder, but as a whole the place is not safe. Older enthusiasts prefer to climb the steep cliff on the side, of course, using the proper equipment. On top of it with wonder can be seen the same votive pits as those of Belintash sanctuary.

Common to all Thracian sanctuaries is the rite of laying the pre-crushed parts of pottery, burning of wood and other organic materials, finally covering all this with stones. In practice sanctuaries noticed several levels of honoring rock. The first level is so called lower"cult site at the foot of the cliffs. Then follows transition to the "high" part of the rocks or "ascent" over hewn steps, and at the top of the rock usually small cuts are found, the work of human hands and large natural rock pits that ancient pilgrims filled with gifts.

Curiously, the local people avoid talking about Karadzhov kamak, saying it is a bad stone. There are rumors for the plateau about many buried treasures containing bad energy. There are many speculations, but fact is that the whole area around was highly respected by all religions and cultures that inhabited it.

The area of Karadzhov kamak is a protected area. Here is the habitat of rare species such as black stork, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, alpine swift, wild goat, wild cat and others.

How to get there?

From Asenovgrad town to Mostovo village is about an hour by car. The road from Oreshets village to Mostovo village is almost entirely paved. It is very comfortable to leave the car at the beginning of the village near to the church, where is the road to Ryakata. The road is one - only up the way. Get on the marking to "Krastova gora" (the path starts at the top/the beginning of the village). After about an hour the path drifts right there the marking points, but you bravely continue straight ahead on the hill. After about 15 minutes you have to go out into the meadows under "Krastova gora" where a magnificent view of the "Belintash", "Hayduktash" and "Karadzhov kamak" is revealed. Go out on a dirt road and soon you will see mark "x. - x. "; this is your road. Shortly after these deviations gather there is a slight uphill at the end of which you will see a sign informing you that you are entering the reserve "Kormisosh." To the huts there is again junction where you set off to the left. There is no way to go wrong; in a little while you are at "Karadzhov kamak".

Information: www.razhodka.com, www.bairi.asenovgrad.us
Photos author: Penka Popova



ROCK PHENOMENON "MOMIN KAMAK" (VIRGIN STONE)


It is located near the phenomenon " Karadzhov kamak"and "Belintash. One way to get to it is after the route; "Sini vrah hu"t - "Svoboda" (Freedom) mount, about hour and half after the hut.

How to get there?

Momin stone is located on the ridge between Topolovski pass (which is about 30 minutes walk) and Progled peak.

The rock is visible from all surrounding parts of the mountain and from the ridge along transition to the Svoboda hut.

Photos author: Christina Milanova



ROCK PHENOMENON "BABATA" (THE GRANDMOTHER)


With the rock phenomenon "Babata" legend of the fall of Asen's fortress is related. When, after a long siege it didnt fall, a grandmother revealed a secret way to enter it and the fortress was taken. Then one of the defenders of the fortress cursed this grandmother and she turned into stone.

How to get there?

Located above the walkway connecting "St. Trifon" and "High furnace", against the mill "N. Panayotov", south of the town..

The very rock phenomenon is difficult to reach, even impossible, because it is among the peaks and rocks.

Photos author: Georgi Hristov



PEAK "CHERVENATA SKALA" (THE RED ROCK)


It is located 1500 meters above sea level. This landmark is best known with its legend.

From which the name comes in. According to the legend during the Ottoman slavery a girl from the village grazing flock of sheep near the rock when traced and attacked by Turk, fled to save their honor, thrown from100 meter cliff and died.


Because of forsaken red blood trails locals called it "Chervenata Skala.

Photos author: Christina Milanova





NATURAL SITES - RESERVES




BIOSPHERE RESERVE "CHERVENATA STENA" (THE RED WALL)


Location: Over Bachkovo Monastery.
Security object from 21 July 1962 with an area of 571.3 hectares.

Botanical reserve "Red Wall" is located in the central Rhodope close to Bachkovo Monastery. For tourists is very convenient to examine it starting from Bachkovo Monastery on special path.
The surrounding mountain scenery and landscape inspires great charm and tranquility with high mountains and fresh greenery everywhere; there are nice, soft meadows, which are preferred place by many people for picnics and relaxation.

In the reserve Chaya river flows and alongside the river has many beautiful meadows and mountain massifs surrounded by fresh forests. The river forms a very beautiful landscaped waterfall that captivates every traveler who can see it. The water of the river is divided by the stones to form multiple streams of 7-8 meters and the water disgorges cheerfully. Under the influence of water and moisture the rocks around the falls have become very beautiful shapes and are covered with soft green that makes the charm of the waterfall even bigger. The reserve has wealth of relict, endemic and other rare plants known to botanists ago. Studies in recent times show that not only the flora but plant communities in the reserve are interesting and deserve more attention and protection. In the lower parts of the reserve, the slopes with south, southeast and southwest exposures are now covered with bushes and rare sprout groves of scabby hornbeam and hairy oak accompanied by other oaks, manna ash, red juniper, sumac and others. Among these coppice forests are also blooming cocksfoot, cirrus thin-legged, primrose, cuckoo grape, Rhodope anemone (Bulgarian endemic), germander, thyme.

From the deciduous trees the beech forms communities. Elsewhere in the valleys the beech forms almost pure broad stripes with different width and only rarely among them individual trees such as hornbeam, maple, fir, yew can be meet. The grassy vegetation is represented by a single strong shade-loving species: shovel, annual mercury, ox tongue ferns, green heath and polystichum setiferum and 2-3 relict species of orchids. The prevalence of relict species among the generally poor herbaceous vegetation seems to reinforce a sense of antiquity and greatness. These are mainly members of the family of orchids.

The primary role among tree species undoubtedly belongs to the black pine, which favors from relatively small altitude and especially marble terrain. Now black pine occupies large areas in northeastern and southwestern reserve shares. You can also see pine, but less frequently. From flora and phyto-geographical point of view, more interesting is the vegetation on rocks and rock cliffs meadows, fields of rare plants that are characteristic landscape element in the whole area.

The rocks of "Chervenata stena" are the only places in the Rhodope Mountains, where you can see endemic for the Balkan peninsula beautiful Grisebachiana violet, evergreen semi-bush Daphne laureola, yarrow Ahilea ayzoon and others. There are also relict and endemic species of plants, including relict endemic haberlea, lady's slipper orchid and others. Just the mention of these species should be interpreted as a call for their preservation and protection.

Information: www.bgtourism.com
Photos author: Penka Popova





NATURAL SITES WATERFALLS




WATERFALL "SLIVODOLSKO PADALO (SLIVODOLSKO FALL)


Waterfall "Slivovdolsko padalo", also called Slivodolsko padalo (50 meters) is the highest waterfall in the Rhodopes.

Located in reserve "Chervenata stena" in the Western Rhodopes, shortly after Bachkovo.

The area of the river Slivov dol is very picturesque and before the waterfall tourists can see many small cascades and waterfalls.

How to get there?


The waterfall is about 1 hour calmly walking on the trail that starts after the exit of the third road tunnel Asenovgrad - Smolyan (shortly after Bachkovo). Can be reached also from the marked trail from Martsiganitsa hut that goes over the waterfall.

The waterfall is most beautiful during the spring freshet, after which water decreases much.

Information: www.waterfallsbg.info
Photos authors: Penka Popova, Georgi Hristov



BACHKOVO WATERFALL


Bachkovo waterfall is formed by karst fault and is located in reserve "Chervenata stena" in the Western Rhodopes. The place is very beautiful and the waterfall is about 10 meters high and has many arms and legs.

The area around the waterfall is suitable for a picnic and many tables and benches for relaxation are provided.

How to get there?

Located above Bachkovo on the left side of the hiking trail in direction to Martsiganitsa hut. It can be reached in about 15-20 minutes walk.



WATERFALL "LYASTOVICHIN VIR" (SWALLOW POOL)


This waterfall is one of the hidden masterpieces of the Rhodopes. It is located along Sushitsa river.

Relatively little is known for it because of the difficult access.





Photos author: Stoicho Toskov





NATURAL SITES - CAVES




CAVE "DOBROSTANSKI BISER" (DOBROSTAN PEARL) (AHMETYOVA HOLE)


The cave is named after the Turk who had been thrown into it because he helped local Bulgarians during the Ottoman rule. And according to another legend, the cave remained from Ottoman rule.

The local Ottoman ruler Ahmed Aga collected taxes in the surrounding villages. In one village, he asked them to cook him something tasty and Bulgarians prepared for the Turk pork with cabbage.

When Aga went to the next village he asked to cook the same, but realizing he had been eating pork he became so angry that decided to burn the village. Knowing what awaited them, local boys waited Aga and killed him, placing his body in the cave.

Explored for the first time in 1963. Modern card is made during Excavations and researches expedition in 1975 by P.Tranteev, and V.Stoitsev and Al.Leonidov. Improvement for tourist visits from tourist company "Bezovo" - Asenovgrad in 1990, but is now broken with residues of lighting, stairs, walkways and other construction materials. Currently access is free. Above the entrance to the cave is a small house, now dilapidated and entering the cave is possible through one of the windows. The old entrance of the cave is preserved, but is closed with grid. The entrance plummet is 9.5 meters, now there is a staircase, reaching the bottom.

It is formed in the lower-middle proterozoic marbles.

The cave is small and precipitous, but well known with some exceptionally beautiful white formations.

There is 1x1m grid at the entrance. The rise of 12 meters of the entrance precipice is equipped easiest by ladder, attached to the grid lock (now go down using stairs). Small opening sized 60 x 70 sm., long 7 meters leads vertically in the only large room at the bottom with southwest development that has maximum dimensions of 20 meters length, 11 meters width and 4 meters height. Much of it is occupied mainly by stalagmites and stalactones (thick columns). Some have green cover of algae and moss. There is a large cluster of big gravity blocks in the center of the southwestern part of the hall. Between the entities sinter lakes are situated, some of which with cave pearls. Cave has no side branches, but there are beautiful cave formations, impressing with their form stalactites, stalagmites and stalactones.

Currently, the cave is with open access. Entering it is possible through one of the windows of the little house built over the cave entrance. The old entrance of the "Dobrostanski biser" is reserved, but closed with a metal grille. Remaings of lighting, stairs, walkways and construction materials remind all that years ago the cave offered excellent conditions for its visitors.

Despite the poor condition the cave continues to attract tourists from all over the country with its beautiful white formations. The only large room in the cave is mainly stalagmites and stalactones and has a length of 40 m. There are lakes between the cave formations, in some of them one can see the very beautiful cave pearls.

Bulgarian Federation of Speleology N: 0073 Dobrostan village, Asenovgrad municipality, Plovdiv district. Total length: 44 Displacement: 14 Depth minus: -14 Ascent Plus: 0 Access: Access to the cave is guarded! GPS coordinates: E 24 52' 36.90'', N 41 53' 48.60'' No source coordinates. Coordinates without source can contain misconduct.

How to get there?

Known as the " Dobrostanski biser" or "Damned" this cave is 5 kilometers southwest of the village Dobrostan and 600 meters west of Martsiganitsa hut at the right bank of Sushitsa river in the area Gogova padina. The cave can be reached by Martsiganitsa hut for about 20-30 minutes. The trail is well marked and starts from the hut.

Information: www.bulgariainside.com , www.ivoso.blog.bg , www. caves.4at.info
Photos author: Christina Milanova



CAVE "TOPCHIKA"


Located in Dobrostan karst region.

Was mapped in 60-ies of the last century.

In 1971 was established experiment with four people who were lowered in a 60-meter precipice for month (there is book "Sky of stone"). In fact just the difficult access to these caves has preserved them from human interference and attacks.

In 1970 Topchika cave was declared a natural landmark.

Topchika cave was inhabited by primitive people in old-iron age. From this period were discovered paintings and engravings of animals (horse, deer, goat), animal remains (molar tooth of cave bear, canine, cervical and caudal vertebrae of the spine, jaw of ruminants, etc.) and ceramics (fragments of small and medium-sized pottery).

Topchika Bulgarian Federation of Speleology N: 0072 Dobrostan village, Asenovgrad municipality, Plovdiv district. Total length: 727 Displacement: 61 Depth minus: -61 Ascent Plus: 0 Access: Access to the cave is guarded! GPS coordinates: E 24 53' 51.72", N 41 52' 43.32". No datum. Source: from archive - 2004-2005, probably datum - Pulkovo.

Photo author: Christina Milanova



CAVE "GARGINA DYPKA" (CROW HOLE)


ave Crow Hole- 534 meters long - Crow hole is located near Mostovo village, at side valley descending to Mostovo Sushitsa river shortly after one of the natural stone bridges in Rhodopes. The cave is abode of numerous bats stock on the floor there is area of 300 square meters with height 16-18 meters of bat guano accumulated for thousands of years.

Map of the cave is adjusted by K. Danailov, N. Sveshtarov, G. Petrov (CC Helictit members) and K. Spasov in 2003. Along the whole axis new antenna was drawn with mine surveying aiming circle (pending). Substantial difference was determined when imposing the antenna to the card.

The new card is obtained by connecting the "old" walls to the new antenna.

Bulgarian Federation of Speleology N: 0082 Mostovo village, Asenovgrad municipality, Plovdiv district. Total length: 524 Displacement: 38 Depth minus: 0 Ascent Plus: 38 GPS coordinates: E 24 56' 02.27'', N 41 51' 01.47''. No source coordinate.

Info: www.caves.4at.info
Photo author: Christina Milanova


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