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Smolyan, Zlatograd
Pamporovo, Chepelare, Momchilovtsi, Rozhen
Batak, Tsigov Chark, Rakitovo
Peshtera, Bratsigovo, Krichim, Perushtitsa, Vacha
Devin, Dospat
Asenovgrad, Bachkovo and Arapovo Monasteries
Trigrad, Bujnovo, Yagodina
Croses peak, Narechen, Chudnite Mostove

Asenovgrad (55 000 inhabitants) is 170 km from Sofia and 20 km from Plovdiv, in the gorge of the River Chaya, in its exit from the Rhodope in Thrace. Asenovgrad was founded in VII century BC under the name Stenimahos, to keep the roads between Thrace and the Aegean. Stanimaka mentioned in the annals of the Third Crusade (1189-1191), which is led by Germany Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and Tsar Ivan Assen II expands stronghold. During 1259-1344, the Stanimaka several times passes in Bulgaria and Byzantium. It is believed that the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1363.

In the first centuries of Ottoman rule the town was a settlement belonging to Sultan, but at the end of XVII/beginning of XIX century, three times plundered and burned. After the Liberation of 1878, Stanimaka is a small town whose population his living mainly from agriculture. In 1934 it was renamed of Asenovgrad, in honor of Tsar Ivan Assen II.

The city is known for more than 50 Christian church - churches, monasteries and chapels, and is often called Little Jerusalem. Asenovgrad boasts with quality and taste of wine. The city has Historical, Ethnographic Museum, Museum of Paleontology, Museum of wine and viticulture.

Hotels in Asenovgrad

The Monastery of Bachkovo is found in 1083 by the Byzantine military commanders brothers Gregory and Abazy Bakuriany. From these times is kept the two-storey ossuary which was about 300 meters from today’s monastery. There are an unique wall-paintings from XI and XII c. The monastery was patronized by Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Aleksander, there is his image in the arches of the narthex of the ossuary. When Bulgaria was conquered by the Turkish here was begun to sharpen the last Bulgarian Patriarch Evtimi. Later the monastery followed the destiny of the other monasteries and it was rubbed and destroyed.

It was restored in the end of XV c. The dining-room was restored in 1601 and the church “Holy Virgin” in 1604. The wall-paintings of the dining-room are from 1605. There are a lot of beautiful wall-paintings in the church too. The icon of Holy Virgin is wonder-working. There are another two temples which are smaller than the main church: St. Michael from XIII c. and St. Nicolas (1834-1837). There are wall-paintings here from 1841, which were deeded of the famous master Zahari Zograf. The monastery has its own museum, where everyone can see ritual objects from different periods.

The Arapovo monastery "St Sunday" is located 8 km to the Asenovgrad, close to the village of Zlatovrah (formerly named Arapovo). “St Nedelya” is one of the few Bulgarian monasteries built in the field and not in the mountain. According to the legend, water from the monastery’s holy spring cured the beloved one of Arap Bey, a local Turkish ruler. Arap Bey was so grateful that he donated a plot of land and allowed the construction of a monastery around the spring. Firstly, the monastery emerged as a monks’ simple residence close to the holy spring in 1856. The old holy spring can be found behind the monastery’s walls, not far away from the northern entrance. The first chapel of the monastery that is still preserved was built around it.

The monastery church was constructed in 1859. The church represents an imposing three-nave, three-apse stone building, with its exterior being covered with stone plates. Six stone columns support the dome, while the floor is covered with marble tiles. The altar’s iconostasis and the four small icons at the columns were painted by the famous painter Georgi Ganchov – Zografina, later on he was left to finish the church alone, when he was only 18 years old. More than 150 scenes are painted in the frescoes of the church. The life and work of the saint brothers Cyril and Methodius, can be seen here for the first time in Bulgaria’s monumental painting. This is done in a cycle of 10 consecutive themes, in which the images of the saint brothers are not canonised but look rather lively.

The most original building in the complex is the tower of Angel Voyvoda – one of the most famous rebels against the Turkish rulers. The tower is rectangular, and had been used both as a watchtower and as a residential building.

Belintash (Belantash) is a plateau in the beautiful Rhodope, on which there was an ancient Thracian sanctuary. On the top platform of rock are dug round holes, that form a map of the starry sky. The length of the rock site is approximately 300 meters in altitude 1225 m, 30 km southeast of Asenovgrad. There is an inscription found, confirming the idea, that the Thracians in the Rhodopes were writing earlier than the Greek.

Chervenata Stena (The Red Wall) is the largest biosphere reserve in the Rhodope Mountains, near Bachkovo monastery. The reserve is located in the Chaya river valley and the mountain ridge Dobrostan, which is strongly indented relief. The territory of the reserve is located Sushitsa River. "Chervenata stena" was declared a reserve in 1962, in 1977 is included in the list of biosphere reserves of UNESCO program "Man and Biosphere".

Lyaskovo Village is located on the northern slopes of the mountains, 800 m altitude, of 9 km. southwest of Asenovgrad. The village is a wonderful view over the Thracian valley and Central Stara Planina. It is believed that the village was created by people working properties of Bachkovo monastery. Around 1498 during the Islamization of Bulgarians, about 26 families come seek refuge from Devin. The abbot of the monastery given permission to migrants to live here quietly, away from their oppressors. The village is a favorite spot for short-term relaxation of the citizens of Plovdiv and Asenovgrad, and in summer - and for a long vacation by tourists from home and abroad. There are several hotels and pubs with more than 100 years of history.

Hotels in the village

Vrata Village is located 30 km away from Asenovgrad to develop rural tourism. Nearby is the famous rocky massif Belentash, which is protected natural site.
Hotels in the village

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