For those wanting to combine history, culture and wine on their next holiday, Bulgaria is the ideal destination. The small city of Melnik has no shortage of attractions, while just nearby you will find Rozhen Monastery, an important religious site. And, of course, you could visit the Pirin region without some wine tasting. |
The Small City of Melnik
This Bulgarian city is small but mighty. With a population of only 385 people, Melnik is an architectural reserve that has an extremely rich culture. Situated in the Pirin mountains, Melnik is surrounded by tall sandstone formations, some reaching as high as 100m, which are known as pyramids. It makes for a dramatic scene! With Melnik being so small, is a very walkable destination. Wander around the city and see the eighteenth-century Kordopulov House, a grand mansion with secret passageways and beautiful stained glass. It is just one of the many historical buildings to be found in Melnik; on an escorted tour, you can be sure not to miss a single one.
Just above the town you will find Slava Krepost, a despot fortress built in the thirteenth century. Situated on St. Nicholas Plateau, you can see the ruins of the fortress, as well as of several monasteries and churches. In the town itself you can also see several other churches, such as Sveta Antoni and Svete Varvara, which offer a great insight to Melnik’s religious past. For those interested in the city’s connection to wine, there is a museum dedicated to this history, aptly called the Museum of Wine.
A visit to Bulgaria’s Pirin region is not complete without some wine tasting. The region has been making wine since the Thracians and Romans. During Medieval times, monasteries were used to age the wines; Bulgarian monks would produce vintages and age them in the crypts there. The wine from here is known well worldwide – in fact, Sir Winston Churchill ordered 500 litres of it every year. A wine tasting here is therefore not to be missed!
From Melnik you can easily reach Rozhen Monastery, originally built in the thirteenth century but still being used today. It is considered one of the most sacred places in Bulgaria, and it is the largest Orthodox monastery in the Pirin region. The monastery has played a variety of important roles in Bulgaria’s history. It was rebuilt during the Ottoman rule, and for several years Rozhen Monastery provided a sanctuary for activists and revolutionists. It remains a place of peace and spirituality, and there is much beauty to be seen here. The Nativity of the Virgin Church houses amazing stained glass windows, and throughout the complex your can observe architecture from a variety of eras. I recommend seeing the monastery on escorted tour to ensure you soak in every detail of this religious site.
Bulgaria’s Pirin region has a lot to offer. To make sure you don’t miss anything, think about exploring it by escorted tour. Not only will this give you peace of mind when planning your trip, but you can also be sure you are truly experiencing this part of Bulgaria.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays for or over 30 years. Recently his well-received escorted tour itineraries, which venture to the far corners of the globe, have been included in Prestige’s luxury holiday portfolio. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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