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Chepelare – The Magic of the Rodope Mountain

Georgi Georgiev, VisitBulgaria.NET

Right in the heart of the majestic Rodope Mountain, amidst the mighty hills, covered with pine trees and spruces zealing for the sky, the small and lovely town Chepelare is huddling.
Some consider it as a popular ski resort, home town of the biathlon champion Ekaterina Dafofska and a great site for relax and tourism. Our team discovered that Chepelare is a lot more than a tourism destination. The town with 9000 citizens is a site with atmosphere, charm, spirit and magic.

The first thing that you can feel in Chepelare is the crystal clear mountain air. It will fill your lungs from the moment you step out from the car or bus.
At the same time you will be stunned by the marvelous view. Steep and sloping hills, covered with snow and burned by the sun will row in front of your eyes, reaching the infinity and the pine trees and spruce – they are jutting up, as if touching the crystal blue sky, to connect it with this wonderful land.

Even though, signs of epic battles are lucking in the vicinity of Chepelare and the history is not very well studied, it is easy to let loose your imagination and create your own legend or saga. The site was inhabited ever since ancient times. May be the hill in front of you has witnessed the chase of a fierce boar or a mighty deer by a Thracian nobleman. Or probably every evening a couple of lovers met secretly, to enjoy their forbidden love on this valley, right next to the river.
On the slopes and hills nearby the town, numerous shepherd huts can be seen, where probably the old shepherd cured the deep wounds of a brave leader, after his consecutive melee with the Ottoman ruler.

Today Chepelare has turned in a popular tourism destination. Ski slope “Mechi chal” is right next to the town. It is the longest slope for Alpine skiing in Bulgaria – almost 4 km. Just 10 km away from Chepelare, one of the most popular Bulgarian winter resorts – Pamporovo is situated. As skis are a traditional sport in the region, it is no wonder that the museum of skies and ski sport is situated in the town. More than 900 museum exponents – skies, medals, cups, ski shoes, tents and banners are exhibited. Another extremely interesting museum in the town is the Museum of the Rodope Karsts. It is the one of a kind on the Balkan Peninsula and the beauties of the caves and cave exponents, preserved from the beginning of the human history are exhibited in the museum.

Our team was sincerely disappointed, that during our stay, at the beginning of February, none of the local festivals and celebrations took place. The town’s holiday is 24th May. Sixteen Chapels, erected in honour of different saints, can be seen in Chepelare and its vicinities. The locals mark the day of each saint with big celebrations with rich tables and folklore playing and singing competitions. For example, the locals tell a story for the last st. Marina’s day, when more than 3000 people celebrated the event with nine back pipers and 13 boiled mutton. Of course the hospitable hosts wouldn’t let us feel the luck of celebration and hurried to turn our stay in a real holiday. The nimble hosts placed us by the table, which was soon piled up with delicious homemade meals.

When I finally managed to get up from the tempting table, it was already dark outside.
The moment I stepped outside, I felt the fresh mountain cold, that had let down. Than I turned my head up, towards the sky, dotted with numerous bright stars. For me, to observe the stars was not just a pleasure, but a real chance, as these stars can never be seen in the big city.

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Chepelare 1 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 21:11

Chepelare 2 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 21:11

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