Bulgaria: ARIT Tour Day 3, Maden and Zlatograd

The Cathedral of Saint Vissarion of Smolyan

This is the largest Orthodox church in Southern Bulgaria, and is the third largest in the whole country. From its appearance, it is obviously a new addition to Smolyan. Its design is controversial, some like it and some hate it. I happen to like it. I find its roundness and arches within arches fascinating. It was consecrated on 2 July 2006, and is named after Vissarion of Smolyan, a local 17th century bishop and martyr.

On the third day of our visit to Bulgaria, we visited Maden, locally known as the Crystal Heart of the Rhodope Mountains. They even have a rock crystal museum, where they have 581 mineral specimens.

From the museum, we drove to one of the ancient mines where rock crystal was found. The Sharenka mine dates from the iron age, and there are 10 figures, representing iron age people, scattered throughout the mine. They look rather scary to the unwary visitor, although we were warned beforehand by Rosa, who guards the entrance.

Imagine walking through a cave in complete darkness,
and suddenly coming upon one of these. Scary!

They looked like dead people!

I think he was supposed to be an iron age warrior.

Zlatograd was our main focus of the day. This small town, just 2 km from the Greek border, was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912. In the centre of the old town, many of the houses show evidence of Ottoman architecture. The whole area is very quaint, having been turned into an open air museum, with functional craft workshops showing the daily lives of the inhabitants.

Typical craft workshops in Zlatograd, with dwellings above

We stopped for a well-earned coffee at this restaurant. 

 Waiting for coffee

Here, the coffee is boiled in hot sand, in a brick oven...

...and then spun around on a tray before serving.

The Ethnographic Museum in Zlatograd is small, but well worth a visit. 

It shows the history of the people in this area, and has traditional clothes and working implements, as well as examples of typical dwellings.

Everyday household items, used in the area

This shows a typical room. Notice the crib suspended from the ceiling
over the bed, and the cooking pot in the fireplace.

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