Our day begins with a trip to the town of Asenovgrad, just 15km away from Plovdiv. It is a well-known place for cultural and religious tourism, with a few monasteries and a large number of churches and chapels in and around the town. That is why it is referred to by some as “the Little Jerusalem”.
Just outside the city is Asen’s Fortress – a medieval structure built into the rocky ridge of the Rhodope mountains over the Asenitsa river. This strategic place was first the location of a Thracian fortress, later used by the Romans, the Byzantines, and eventually the Bulgarians. It was renovated in the 13th century during the reign of Tsar Ivan Asen II to be used as a line of defense against the Latin Empire. It was destroyed in 1410 by the invading Ottoman armies. Today, the fortress lies in ruins, with a small church functioning within what remains of its walls. The “Holy Virgin of Petrich” Church is the only preserved building in the complex and one of the most remarkable examples of Medieval Christian architecture. In 1991, after a full restoration of the church, it began its function as an Orthodox temple.
Bachkovo monastery “Assumption of Holy Virgin” is the second largest in Bulgaria and a national cultural landmark. Built on a spacious terrace next to one of the banks of the Chepelare river, it is easily accessible and surrounded by scenic landscapes on all sides. The cobbled road leading up to the monastery is lined with market stalls selling trinkets, folk craft, homemade jam, honey and spices. Bachkovo Monastery was founded all the way back in the 11th century by the Georgian Gregoriy Bakuriani, while the area was still part of the Byzantine Empire. It has since been partially destroyed, rebuilt and restored numerous times. The monastery has 2 courtyards, 4 churches and a total of 13 chapels, some of which are located well outside its bounds and even in Asenovgrad. The monastery has its own museum showcasing crucifixes, ceremonial garbs, manuscripts, icons and donated jewelry. The cathedral in the larger courtyard is called “Assumption of the Holy Virgin”, with the smaller “St. Archangeli” church built into its side. The “St. Nicholas” church is the centerpiece of the southern courtyard. In the cathedral there is an icon from 1311 known as the Miracle Working Icon of the Holy Virgin, with a silver repousse cover. It is believed that the icon has miraculous powers.
After we finish exploring Bachkovo Monastery, we head towards the Marvelous Bridges an hour’s drive away.
The Marvelous Bridges are three marble cliff bridges naturally formed by the erosive activity of the Erkyupriya river, which flows through them to this day. The upper, larger bridge is an impressive 96 m tall arch, with an 43 m tall and 45 m wide opening, while the lower situated one (200 m downstream) is impassable. The third bridge is the smallest and takes the shape of a ponor cave, into which the waters of the Erkyupriya river disappear, only to once again emerge above ground 3 km away.
For those looking to experience the Marvelous Bridges in a truly unique fashion, the nearby 250-meter-long zip-line offers the chance to zip from the eastern slopes of the surrounding area 80 m above the valley, under the largest bridge and all the way to the forest on the other side, reaching a speed of up to 40 km/h.
On the meadow just above the valley you can enjoy the beautiful view, relax on the grass or on a bench, or try the delicious food at the Chudni Mostove lodge. They serve barbecue, and we can personally vouch for the trout.
- What Will You DoVisit the town of Asenovgrad
Climb to Asen’s Fortress
Explore Bachkovo monastery
See the famous Marvelous Bridges
Ride the longest zipline in the Balkans – 250 m
- What To ExpectA visit to the remarkable Asen's Fortress (built in the 13th century) and the second largest monastery in Bulgaria - Bachkovo Monastery, home to the miraculous icon of the Holy Virgin and the “Assumption of the Holy Virgin” Church, built in 1604. The trip continues to the Marvelous Bridges natural landmark – a stunningly beautiful rock phenomenon formed by the erosive activity of a river.
- What Is IncludedTour guide
- What Is Not IncludedLunch
Zip-lining: 5 €