What to visit

The meanders of the Arda River

The Arda River is the largest right tributary of the Maritsa River and the largest Rhodope river. It springs from Ardinski Vrah in the Rhodopes and flows into the Maritsa River outside the country. The length of the river within Bulgaria is 241.3 km. The river basin is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean. The only one in the country, it is located completely parallel to the Aegean coast, at a distance of 40-60 km from it. Despite its pronounced mountainous character, the river has a small average slope - 5.8%, but a relatively high coefficient of curvature - "1.9". Evidence of this are the extremely beautiful bends (meanders) winding among huge rock massifs and domes in the middle reaches of the river. The Eastern Rhodopes, through which the river passes, are highly fragmented and diverse, relatively low mountainous land.

In the area between the dam "Kardzhali" and the dam "Studen Kladenets" is formed a wide river terrace. The river valleys have been a favorite place for settlements since ancient times. The Arda River, as well as its larger tributaries, are no exception. In the area of ​​the town of Kardzhali a settlement from 6,000 BC was discovered during construction works. Many objects found during the archeological excavations are in the fund of the Regional Historical Museum. There are fortresses built on almost every hill along the bends of the river. Ruins of them are preserved to this day. Such are the fortresses "Krivus" near the village of Bashevo, "Patmos" near the hut "Borovitsa", "Monyak" near Kardzhali, etc.

To cross the ancient roads to the Aegean, several stone bridges were built on the river, impressive in size and impressive today with its original architecture. One such completely preserved from time is the Devil's Bridge in the area of the Ardin village Dyadovtsi. There are separate parts of bridges in several places in the region: near the villages of Suhovo, Borovitsa, and another 3 have remained under the waters of the dams.

Реката с нейните язовири е приятно място за отдих и почивка. Във водите се среща много риба и така тя се превръща в любимо място за много запалени рибари.

Some of the most beautiful meanders of the Arda River are on the road between the town of Madzharovo and the village of Borislavtsi, in the Eastern Rhodopes.

Stone Wedding (Petrified Wedding) - Zimzelen

The natural phenomenon The Petrified Wedding (Stone Wedding) is located 5 km east of the center of Kardzhali, near the village of Zimzelen. It is located on an area of about 40 decares and was declared a protected site in 1974. Along with the Stone Mushrooms located near the village of Beli Plast, it is one of the most interesting rock formations of the so-called Kardzhali pyramids, located on the hills Kayadzhik and Chukata in the Eastern Rhodopes.

Most impressive are two 10-meter cliffs resembling newlyweds embracing.

According to scientific hypotheses, the "Petrified Wedding" began its formation 40 million years ago as a result of underwater volcanic activity, from which rhyolite tuff rocks were formed. Later, after the sea receded, the rocks were exposed to rain, wind and sun, and these elements shaped their present forms. Different minerals in the rock are the reason for the variety of colors and shades.

Legend: A local boy fell in love with a girl from a neighboring village. Only her blue eyes shone on her veiled face, which no one had seen. The boy lost sight of the girl's beautiful eyes. Then his father went to the village and managed to buy it for a pot full of coins. A big wedding took place and the procession with the girl went to Evergreen. Suddenly a wind blew, blew off the towel and revealed the bride's face. Her father-in-law was dumbfounded by her beauty. Wicked thoughts went through his head. Then something terrible happened. The whole wedding froze for a moment. All that remained was the groom, numb with grief and terror. He asked the wind to petrify him as well. His request was heard. Only the small puddle formed by his tears, which still exists today, survives at his feet.

Cult complex Harman Kaya - Bivolyane

This is a rock-cut sanctuary located on a low plateau about 2 km east of the village of Dolna Chobanka. The site is also known by the Bulgarian name Raven Kamak. Two small caves are formed nearby. The early archeological accumulations of rock fragments date back to the late Neolithic era. Throughout the whole area there are facilities carved into the rocks - rooms, round and trapezoidal niches, tombs, cisterns, concentric circles resembling a sundial, altars, swimming pools, steps.

The two rock structures, tentatively named Harman 1 and Harman 2, are two leveled rock platforms, on the surfaces of which concentric open circles are cut, which are intersected by radially directed grooves. Harmans are of great scientific interest.

Harman 1 is almost round in shape and has a diameter of 10 m, with uneven semicircles on the site, intersected by a radial line in a north-south direction.

Harman 2 has a diameter of almost 15 m, and on its surface are eleven, intersected by radially straight circles.

Both rock sites are interpreted as structures related to astronomical research.

Studen Kladenets Dam

The dam is part of the Arda energy cascade. This is the first dam built on the river, put into operation in 1957. Its wall was built about 30 km east of the town of Kardzhali. Its catchment area is 3,752 km2 with an average annual outflow of 1,600 million m3. The concrete dam wall is 68 meters high at its highest part and its length is 350 meters. The road from Krumovgrad to Haskovo passes through it. At its base the wall is 61 meters wide, and at the crown - 8 meters. The average width of the dam lake is 2 km and its depth is 40 m. 12 villages remain under the waters. The reservoir has a useful volume of 489 million m3. The main purpose of the hydro unit is to regulate the large and highly variable seasonal outflow of the Arda River. Water is used for irrigation and electricity generation. On the right slope of the dam, about 800 m from the wall, the Studen Kladenets HPP was built, which has an installed capacity of 60 megawatts and produces 153.1 million square meters of electricity annually. The shores of this dam, unlike those of "Kardzhali", are sharp, bare chukars, overgrown with shrubs and single deciduous trees. Due to the extremely steep terrain and the nature of the rocks, afforestation activities are almost impossible. In return, the inaccessible chukars are inhabited by various rare and legally protected birds - vultures, eagles, falcons and others. On its left bank is the protected area of ​​the Great Scree - it is impressive high, steep and strongly cracked rocks.

To the right of the wall there is an approach to the reserve "Valchi Dol", the only strict reserve in the district of Kardzhali. After the dam wall, the Arda River has formed a deep, narrow, canyon-like gorge - Devil's Bridge (Satan), about a kilometer long. In the narrowest places the rocky banks are almost vertical with a height of 5 to 10 m. The width of the river there is from 1 to 6 m and the depth reaches 20 m. Of all 6 gorges along the Arda River, this is the most -impressive and impressive. In the area of ​​the village of Shiroko Pole, in one of the large expanses of the dam lake, there are conditions for recreation and fishing. The next bay - the one near the village of Kaloyantsi is also one of the favorites for fishing in the area. There is also one of the larger islands in the dam, which can be reached by boat. About 30 years ago the island was inhabited by mouflons. Deer often come to him from the Studen Kladenets Hunting Farm, which occupies a large area on the right bank of the dam, in the area of ​​the municipalities of Momchilgrad and Krumovgrad. The dam with its large water surface and length creates an opportunity for water sports and fishing. In the gorge are the unique natural landmarks Abrasive Wells and Devil's Bridge. The lakes of the two large dams have sheltered a number of waterfowl, some of which are protected by biodiversity law. These include diver, heron, glarus, black stork, griffon vulture, white-winged tern, small water bull, greylag goose, mute swan, white-tailed deer, diver, etc.

Ivaylovgrad Dam

Ivaylovgrad Dam is a dam in the Eastern Rhodopes along the lower reaches of the Arda River before the river left the territory of Bulgaria and continued in the Hellenic Republic. The third and last HPP of the Arda hydroelectric cascade was built here.

The dam wall is in the bed of the Arda River in the municipality of Ivaylovgrad, north of the town of Ivaylovgrad. The basin of the dam is large and extends to the municipalities of Madjarovo and Lyubimets and Krumovgrad, has a 64-kilometer coastline, much of which is covered with dense deciduous forests.

The dam was built in 1964. According to preliminary plans, the dam was supposed to be 105 m high and would then be the largest on the Balkan Peninsula, but in this case it would flood the mines near Madjarovo, which are not functioning. Today the wall of the dam is 71 m high, and the dam is the longest in Bulgaria - 30 km. Its area is 15 km.

Its waters are rich in fish: catfish, carp, whitefish, perch, mullet, redfish, bleak and other freshwater fish. This makes it suitable for fishing.

Kardzhali Dam

The arch-concrete wall of Kardzhali Dam is 103.5 m high and 341 m long. This is the highest dam wall in Bulgaria. It was built in the valley of the Arda River, about 3 km southwest of the town of Kardzhali. It was put into operation in 1962. The total volume of the dam lake is 497 million m3, the useful volume is 390 million m3 and the dead volume is 107 million m3. The average annual outflow is 600 million m3, the flooded area is about 16,000 decares, and the length of the water mirror is 21-22 km. The average depth of the dam is 60 m. The end sections of the dam lake (zero of the dam) are near the village of Kitnitsa. According to the season and the degree of use of the water from the dam, the water level fluctuates. The elevation of the overflow edge is 319.30 m above sea level, and the elevation of the crown of the wall is 331.45 m above sea level. The elevation of the highest working water level is 324.30, and the elevation of the lowest working water level is 285 within a few meters, at an average elevation of 325 m. The built hydropower plant produces 164 million square meters of electricity per year. Until 1983 the dam was used for water supply of the town of Kardzhali and the villages around it. Today its waters are used for industrial water supply and irrigation. The design life of the dam is 50 years, after which, due to the filling of the bottom with sediments, various activities for its cleaning were planned. To increase this period in the period 1962 - 1967, massive afforestation was undertaken along its shores, in order to strengthen them. Today, these pine forests have already grown, thus doubling the life of the dam. By the lake there are magnificent bays and meadows - a great place for fishing and recreation. Water sports competitions are held in the waters, there is an excellent rowing base. Some of the bays are built up with pleasant hotels and holiday villages. Such are the bays near the villages of Enchets and Glavatartsi. The construction of the next big bay is forthcoming - near the villages of Penyovo and Ridovo. There are various attractions for tourists - a boat trip or a tourist boat, pontoon restaurants in the water, fish farms, boat rentals, etc.

Dospat Dam

Dospat is a dam on the Dospat River in the Western Rhodopes. Located in altitude 1200 meters above sea level. height, its area is 18.3 km² and is among the largest in area and volume in Bulgaria. It was built on the Dospatska River. It can catch carp, trout, mullet, perch, redfish and caracuda.

Dospat - Vacha hydroelectric cascade is the largest hydropower complex in Bulgaria. At the time of its construction, Dospat Dam was the second largest dam in the country. It was put into operation and sealed in 1967. [2] Waters from the Osinska River catchment are directed to the Dospat dam, thanks to which an additional 10 million m3 of water flows into the dam annually, increasing the productivity of all hydropower plants further in the cascade by 10% or 10 GWh per year. The water from Dospat Dam is diverted to Teshel HPP and down the Dospat-Vacha cascade.

The dam is 19 km long and about 3 km wide, located in the northwest-southeast direction. On its northeastern coast there is a picturesque road between the towns of Sarnitsa and Dospat.

The Big and the Small Cauldron - Raven

They are located in the area "Kazan Beyug" near the neighborhood Vaz in the village of Raven. The site can be reached by a clearly visible path, just before the first houses of the neighborhood Vaz from the village of Ravnets. In the area "Kazan Beyug" rises a complex of interesting rock formations located on the left bank of the river Kazan Dere, with a height of over 30 m. a well-preserved tomb with a closure groove.

Marvelous Bridges

The Wonderful Bridges The Rock Bridges are a rock phenomenon located in the karst valley of the Erkyupria River in the Western Rhodopes at 1450 m above sea level, at the foot of Golyam Persenk Peak.

The bridges were formed as a result of the erosion activity of a flooded river in the past, which transformed the cracks in the marbles into a deep water cave, the ceiling of which over time thins in places and collapses. It is believed that the debris from the collapse was subsequently removed from the river.

As a result, the two famous marble bridges remain. The large one is about 15 m wide in the wider parts, almost 100 m long. It consists of three arches, the largest of which is 45 m high and 40 m wide. The small bridge is 200 m from the big one along the river - impassable, 60 m long, with a total height of 50 m, and only on the arch - 30 m. After it there is a very small third bridge, which is a sinkhole in which the waters of Ercupria disappear to reappear on the surface after 3 km.

The area around the two bridges is occupied by centuries-old coniferous forests, composed mainly of spruce trees. Both bridges are secured and adapted for tourist purposes. Passing is allowed on and under them.

In the register of protected areas and protected areas in Bulgaria, the WONDERFUL BRIDGES - ER CUPRIA is a protected area in the category: Natural landmark.

Near the rock phenomenon are the chalets "Wonderful Bridges" and "Rock Bridges", managed by the tourist association "Studenets" - Chepelare.

Yagodina Cave

Yagodina Cave is 20 km south of the town of Devin and 3 km southwest of the village of Yagodina. It is located on the right bank of the Buynovska River, which has formed the longest gorge in Bulgaria - Buynovo Gorge with a length of 7 kilometers. The cave can be reached along the Devin-Dospat road, turning left at the wall of Teshel Dam.

The Jagodina Cave is 10 km long and is located on three floors, of which only the third (lowest) is ennobled and electrified. A 1100-meter trail has been built for tourists. The entrance and exit to this floor are artificially dug tunnels with lengths of 150 and 80 m, respectively. The total displacement of the cave is 36 m.

The natural entrance of the cave leads to its first floor, where an ancient dwelling was discovered, inhabited around the 4th millennium BC. The finds say that it was home to skilled potters. The clay was extracted from the inside of the cave and from the bed of the Buynovska river. The dishes were baked in clay ovens. Residents have been forced to flee their homes after an earthquake collapsed.

The cave is unique with its countless stalactites, stalagmites, stalactites, "curtains", "leopard skins" (variously colored rock layers), cave pearls. It has a constant temperature of 6 ° C and a humidity of 92%.

Some of its interiors are reminiscent of Santa Claus, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Virgin and Child, Pijo and Penda, animal shapes and fantastic figures.

Borovets Reserve, Raven Village

Borovets Reserve is one of the four reserves in the Eastern Rhodopes and is of national importance. It is located on the land of the village of Raven and occupies an area of ​​35.90 ha. It was declared a protected site by order № 2245 of 30.12.1956 of the Council of Ministers, in order to protect the easternmost natural habitat of black pine. Its average altitude is 400 m. The flora is quite well studied - there are black pine, Virgil oak, hairy oak, wild pear, wild apple, red juniper, etc., as well as representatives of the fauna, some of which are in the Red book of Bulgaria and protected in Europe and worldwide. The average age of pine trees is 130 years, and the oldest 180 years.