Melnik and Rozhen Monastery

   Melnik is reached by driving across the southern Pirin mountains, a journey where a camcorder or camera is a 'must'! It is nested in a small ravine with the impressive houses seemingly exploding out of the ravine sides. Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria now with 300 inhabitants, but in 1880 the Melnik population was 20000. It is famous for its sand-hills that have been eroded to produce the famous Melnik "pyramids".

 

Even more notable are its noble red wines, made from the small dark-red Melnik Broad Grape, that was a favourite of Sir Winston Churchill, and the white Keratsuda wine that slowly changes colour when the bottle is opened!

 

Kordopulov House, formally the home of a rich merchant, provides an insight into the lifestyle of a former age with a mixture of Bulgarian and Turkish influence, and contains wine cellars carved into the hillside.

 

Rozhen Monastery has a wonderful, unadorned, simplistic charm and down the hill is the Church of Saints Kiril and Metodii with the grave of Yane Sandanski, the famous Macedonian freedom fighter.

 

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