Melnik, Bulgaria

Melnik: An Unexpected Pleasure

Forrest Mallard

The smallest city in all of Bulgaria.. by a large margin. A paradise for wine-lovers.

Location

All the way in the tip of the southwest corner of Bulgaria.

Directions

Мелник / Melnik

This tiny Bulgarian town is confined to a ravine between two towering cliffs. It is fairly hard to get to if you are not traveling by car, and even if you are driving, you will ask yourself ‘Are we there yet?’ several times before actually arriving at this very remote location.

The city was able to only to attain ‘city’ status with so few people as an honorarium, and this is only due to its impressive history of over 1000 years and the fact that the majority of its buildings in the cramped little hamlet are registered historic landmarks.

Melnik Hiking

I took a hike WAY up the mountain to a monastery.
The old man that runs my hotel told me that it would only take an hour each way… but it took me quite a bit longer.. which made me think that:

A) This old man is much sprier than he looks
B) He doesn’t stop to take as many photos as me
C) Both of the above
D) Let’s just say the hike takes 3 hours

But the hike… OMG!! It was such a pleasure!!
You begin the hike walking upward through a natural rain drainage ditch for about 30 minutes.. then you start climbing.. then you walk through beautiful fields filled with wildflowers and horses until you reach the dirt road that takes you to the monastery.

That hike is done now, but I’m preparing for something even bigger tomorrow.
The owner of the hotel told me that this entire village used to be on top of one of the hills and that the village didn’t move down the hill until around the 1600’s. Tomorrow I am hiking up the hill into an abandoned fortress and will explore the original, abandoned Melnik on top of the mountain.

Exploring these forgotten places, hundreds and thousands of years old, I don’t really feel like Indiana Jones, I just feel like this is the thing I always wanted, to explore and discover. Thanks to Bulgaria and its overabundance of raw archaeology just laying there, overgrown yet exposed, I get to feel like I am discovering something, and it is an amazing feeling.

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By Forrest Mallard

By Forrest Mallard

By Forrest Mallard

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