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Shiroka Luka

This is a village - museum (an architecture and ethnographic reserve) well known not only throughout Bulgaria, but abroad as well, for its original Rhodope architectural style, musical traditions and history. It is located on the two banks of Shiroka Luka River and is 22 km away from the town of Devin, 12 km from Pamporovo Resort and 24 km from the town of Smolyan with which it is connected with a regular bus line. It is the centre of a region of 5 villages (Stoikite, Gela, Stickal and Solishta) populated by Christians and Muslems. It was founded after the most massive forceful conversion of the population of the Rodope mountain into the Islam during the Turkish domination (17th century).

A series of archaeological excavations in the area, near the village of Gela and Mt. Turlata,  resulted in the discovery of archaeological facts that show that the area was populated in most ancient times.

The residents of the village built the Holy Virgin Church in 1834 in 38 days only. The brothers Zachary and Dimitur Zograf painted the frescos and a school was opened in it only one year later. In those difficult years the village was a place where Bulgarian spirit and traditions were retained.

The natural conditions, the uncertainty prevailing in the centuries of the Ottoman rule, the national identity of the people and their economic prosperity were reflected in the architectural style of the houses that belong to the type of a large Rhodope house. They are two-storied, with bay windows and high stone chimneys, thick walls, small windows, forged doors, internal wooden staircase and a small cellar with a hiding place. The rooms have cupboards hidden in the walls, closets, etc. The yards are small, stone paved, with an outdoor drinking-fountain. All this is built with exquisite taste in harmony with the environment. Most prominent among these houses are Kalaidzhiiska, Uchikovs', Grigorovs, Bogdanov houses, Zgurov Inn, etc.

The arched bridges above Shiroka Luka River and some of its tributaries add romanticism to the village. The songs of the village are unique, melodious and very lyrical. They are sung to the accompaniment of kaba-bagpipe, flute and rebeck. The legendary Captain Petko Voivoda (The Commander) has visited the village many times. One of the two secondary music schools in Bulgaria is located here. Tourists would find especially fascinating the koukerski festival Pes Ponedelnik which takes place every first Sunday of March.

Accommodation is scarce: Chevermedzhiinitsata Hotel-club. It is in a building, which is a monument of architecture and has 5 two-bed rooms. Vaska Hotel - is also in an old house with a beautiful panoramic view and it offers 3 rooms with 2, 3 and 4 beds. The most luxurious is the 3-star Margarita Family Hotel. Beds are also provided in private family houses. For information: Tourist Informational Centre, Shiroka Luka, tel.: 03030 573, e-mail: Well marked hiking routes start from Shiroka Luka: to Izgrev Chalet in Chernatitsa (5 hours), Perelik Chalet (under Mt. Golyam Perelik - 3.30 hours), Lednitsata Chalet (4 hours) also in the Perelik range. It takes 1.30 hours walk on a truck road to reach the village of Varbovo interesting for its location and architecture. 

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