Travel Guide to Smolian, Bulgaria
Smolian (also spelled Smolyan) is located in the Rhodopes, a Bulgarian mountain range. The town is well known for its mix of ancient and modern architectural buildings. Also in and around Smolian are the Smolyan Lakes, emerald eyes of the Rhodopes. Some of the original twenty lakes no longer exist, but there are seven lakes remaining. Muddy Lake is the deepest and most popular. Muddy Lake is the highest of the lakes and is near the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, which still holds regular services.
Many churches, museums, and art galleries can be found within Smolian. This is a great destination choice for those wanting a quiet, yet intriguing, vacation spot. It’s close proximity to Greece makes it a great spot for traveling between two countries.
- Province: Smolian / Smolyan
- Population: 31,113 (Year 2005)
- Altitude: 999 Metres
- Postcode: 4700
- Area Code: 0301
- Geographic Coordinates: 41° 35′ North, 24° 42′ East
There is evidence showing that Smolian was settled in 1 B.C. The town’s name came from the Slavic tribe, Smolyani, that settled the area in the 7th century. As time progressed, possession of the area passed from the Byzantines to Bulgarians and then to the Ottomans before it reverted to the Bulgarians in 1912. Three towns were merged and Smolian was born.
Built-in the 1970s, Rozhen Observatory is the Balkan Peninsula’s largest planetarium. The planetarium offers shows in English, Greek, French, Russian, German, and Bulgarian. Monday through to Sunday. Opening times vary at weekends.
The Rhodope Dramatic Theatre holds shows regularly.
For those wanting to experience some of the area’s culture, Smolian hosts the yearly Orpheus’ Children’s Folk Holidays. Visitors can also attend the national folk fair known as Rozhen. Rozhen is held every two years at the end of August.
A number of museums should offer you plenty to see and do. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.oo am to Noon and again from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm, the Historical Museum houses more than 150,000 historical artifacts and documents.
The Laslo Nagi Smolyan opened in 1981. This museum takes a close look at the area’s famed poet named Laslo Nagi. His poetry and translations are on display. You must call ahead and make a reservation.
The antifascist and poet Kiril Majarov has his own museum in Smolian. Located in the Oustovo district, the museum is set in Majarov’s childhood home.
Kiparis is a family-owned bed and breakfast that can house 30 guests. Rooms are furnished with basics and all have terraces that overlook the mountains. Breakfast is included in the price. An on-site restaurant can serve up to 90 guests.
At Kushtata s Trite Eli, expect the best complimentary buffet breakfast in the whole town. The owners arrange hikes and nature walks for their guests.
Makrelov is a privately owned hotel, the oldest in the area. Hunters and fishermen love this hotel due to its rural location and willingness to help find the best areas for hunting and fishing.
With three guest rooms, Tchavdarov is a perfect location for those wanting privacy. Guests are welcome to use the home’s kitchen and living room.
Riben Dar is both a guesthouse and a seafood restaurant. There are six double rooms on the premise. The restaurant is acclaimed for having more than 100 dishes on the menu.
Smolian is an agricultural town. Potatoes happen to be the area’s largest crop. Unfortunately, there is also not a lot of money to be made in potatoes; therefore, the town tries to bring in additional income through tourism and festivals. Other crops include Maize, oats, beans, and barley. These are not as huge as the potato industry, but they are all crops that grow well year after year.
Local craftsmen also play a part in the area’s economy. There are some small textile mills in the area that help bring additional revenue to Smolian.
Potatoes grow extremely well in the Rhodope Mountains. Therefore, much of Smolian’s cuisine revolves around the wide variety of potatoes and meat.
If you are in Smolian, try to attend a cheverme. Here the locals get together and create a lavish feast revolving around local fare and a roast suckling pig or full lamb is roasted over an open fire.
Other area specialties include Yahnia, a chicken stewed with the area’s white cheese (similar to Feta), cinnamon, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Klynn is also popular and is a vegetable stew made from seasonable vegetables, cheese, and tomatoes.
Besides the local bars and taverns, there is little in the way of nightlife in Smolian. The total population of Smolian stands at a little over 30,000, so there seems to be no need for larger clubs. If you need more activity than a bar, you will need to head to one of the larger cities.
At 1,000 meters above sea level, Smolian stands higher than many Bulgarian cities. The views are impressive, and the size is rather immense. There is plenty to see and do within Smolian, so be sure you can spend a few days taking in the sights.