In the sunniest side of the Pirin Mountain, among the exquisite draperies of bizarre sandstone pyramids sheltered Melnik – the smallest town not only in Bulgaria, but in the whole world, with only 280 inhabitants. Perched one above the other houses with tall white chimneys, cupolas peek behind which dozens of ancient churches, enchant travelers with its timeless beauty. Now Melnik is a national cultural reserve and city-museum.
How to Get to Melnik
The smallest city in the world is located in Southwestern Bulgaria. Only 12 km South from Sandanski and 182 km far away from Bulgarian capital – Sofia. The most famous ski center in Bulgaria – Bansko.
From Sofia you should take the main road E79 Sofia – Kulata direction Sandanski / Sofia-Pernik-Dupnitsa-Blagoevgrad-Sandanski /. 10km after Sandanski in the right side you will see the exit to Melnik.
There is only one bus on direction Sofia – Melnik. It’s leaving from the central bus station every day at 14:00
If you want can take a bus to Sandanski, spend a night there and have a walk in the amazing park. From there is easy to get to Melnik by bus or hitchhiking.
Melnik is situated at the foot of beautiful sand pyramids forming bizarre shapes. They are located on 17 square km around the town and have formed over the centuries as a result of wind, rain and the constant erosion of the limestone cliffs.
The houses of the 18th and 19th centuries were built in the typical style of Melnik, because the steep terrain they are arranged in tiers, and to win more space first floors are additionally issued. The ground floor is very high and almost no house that does not have a cellar dug in the limestone rock.
This typical Melnik building is the the largest revival house on of the Balkan Peninsula. It was built in 1754’s and was purchased by the wine, tobacco and silk merchant – Manolis Kordopulos (the richest man in Melnik) There is a legend that the house rests on a curse because all the men who lived in Kordopulov’s house lived less than 40 years. Now the house is transformed into a beautiful museum. To get inside you should pay 1.3 euros.
Tip: Go there with tour guide or ask someone to tell you about the history of Kordopulova house and the people who lived there before.
The most impressive in the Kordopulov’s house is the wine cellar – the largest in Melnik, dug in the limestone rock. It occupies 200 square meters and you can seee the ols barrels, of which the largest gathering 40 000 l of wine.
Inside the cellar as stars shine thousands of coins from around the world which visitors placed in the soft wall for good luck
Things To Do in Melnik, Bulgaria
One of the secrets of good wine matures lies in the constant temperature maintained in the cellar all year – 10-12 degrees. Melnik wine was the favorite wine of Churchill, who ordered up to 500 liters per year.
Near the Kordopulov is situated probably the most famous wine cellar in Melnik – Shestaka’s cellar. There you can test and buy different types of wine and enjoy the amazing view of Melnik
There are also many souvenir shops, where you can find delicious homemade forest berries jam, wine and more.
Enjoy the amazing view to Melnik and the sand pyramids from the nearby hills.
Visit the Monastery St. Mary Spileotisa. It was one of the earliest examples of urban monastery construction in Bulgaria.
Other famous Melnik sight is St. Anthony Church, called by local people more St. Anton is the only church with a similar name in Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula. In the center of the temple is placed plate with double-headed eagle, a sign of the Patriarchate in Constantinople. This plate is attached only where the energy fields are extremely strong. In the church were once treated mentally ill people who were bound with chains to chase their demons.
Тhe church is not always open, so when you come in Melnik, ask about the priest, everyone in the town know him. He will unlock the church and tell you interesting stories about the history of building and St. Anthony.
Each year on the temple festival Antonovden (January 17), the priest holds a Mass and people from all over Bulgaria gather to celebrate the temple’s holiday and to ask St. Antony to save them from their demons.
On 8th of February is the national festival of Melnik wine “Golden Grape”. On this day tourists can test many different kinds of Melnik wine. The celebration consists in two days which there is a program of traditional folk dances and songs. The pictures are from “Golden Grape” Festival Melnik 2014
Usefull links :
Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/Melnik
Tripadvisor – http://www.tripadvisor.com/Melnik
Lonely Planet – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/melnik
Kordopulov house in Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/Kordopulov_House