The Rhodope mountains are a huge massif in South Bulgaria. The mountain, buried in age-old forests and greenery, is a complicated system of mountain massifs, valleys and mountain plains. The wildlife here is one of the richest in Europe. The mountains are split in Western part which is much higher and has mainly coniferous vegetation, sheer cliffs and deep caves. The Eastern Rhodopes are mild and romantic, and more exotic. The vegetation is mainly deciduous or mixed, and the wildlife is rich of Mediterranean flora and fauna.
The Rhodope mountains are associated with the ancient legend about the mythical Thracian singer Orpheus and with unique architectural monuments, the most significant of them being traditional houses which are in harmony with the mountain scenery.
The Eastern Rhodope region has been inhabited since the dawn of European civilization and it is the richest in the Balkans in megalithic monuments from Thracian antiquity. The fortresses in this part of the mountain are possibly the best preserved medieval strongholds in the territory of present-day Bulgaria.
In the Rhodope mountains one can easily find traces from prehistorical life, from the epoch of the Thracians, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Crusaders and the Turks.
After the foundation of the Bulgarian state in 681 AC, the Rhodopi region became the frontier of two rival states. It is very difficult to point the number of different fights, and sieges among the ruin of a great number of fortresses. The remains of them at Ustra, Perperikon, Efrem, and Vishegrad are witnesses of that epoch.
The Eastern Rhodopes are one of the few places in Europe where the nature is uncredibly various, the biodiversity is so high, and at the same time there are still places which are untouched by human presence. Here is the paradise for the true nature lovers who can enjoy completely wild nature areas. One can walk a whole day whithin a nature area with not a soul around. The whether is warm and fresh because it is influenced by the Mediterranean sea (Aegean sea). The Eastern Rhodopes hold the record for being the sunniest destination in Bulgaria with more than 290 sunny days per year. The best season for walking and nature holidays is in May-June and September.
The Eastern Rhodopes are famous with the numerous waterlands full of wildlife. The lakes of Borovitsa, Kardzhali, Studen kladenets, and Ivaylovgrad are among the biggest in Bulgaria. The main river in the region is Arda, which flows to the Maritsa river on Turkish land. The pure waters of Arda river and her feeders – the rivers Varbitsa, Krumovitsa, Byala Reka (White River), and Borovitsa gives opportunity for a real adventure for all nature lovers. The wetlands are surrounded by a stunning wild nature which makes you feel like a discoverer.
The Eastern Rhodopes mountains are a natural habitat of some endemic species as the plant Haberlea Rhodopenses (also known among the locals as „the blood of Orpheus“). The wild flowerslovers will enjoy the exotic orchid species like the Ophrys Cornuta, or the Dactylorhiza romana. Especially numerous in the Eastern Rhodopi mountains are the birds of prey including the Imperial eagle, White tailed eagle, Egyptian vulture, Black vulture and Griffon vulture. The land tortoise is one of the most typical fauna species, as well as Fallow deer, wild horses, autochthonous breeds of cattle, otter, jackal, fox, wolf, etc.