They said that the most important step is the first one. So, the initial footmark which we will put in the beginning of our journey in Strandzha Mountains is in a cave. Not very well-known to the mass tourists and can be visited only from experienced speleologists and trained mountaineers, Elenina Hole Cave (peshterata Elenina Dupka, пещерата Еленина дупка) is a challenge to everyone who is addicted to climbing. Located in around 40 km from Burgas, you can reach it following the main road and near Byala Voda Village, take the left turn. It is a vertical cave, 90 meters long and because of the many cracks and landslides you need to be very well prepared If you decide to discover it.
Of course there is a legend which completes the description of this little scary cave and it is about a girl, who was abducted by a dragon. Her name was Elena and she was one of the prettiest girls in the near village, named White Water (Byala Voda, Бяла вода). One evening, when the young people from the village were gathered at the square and danced around, suddenly a gust of wind raised, took away Elena and only her plaits were found at the entrance of the cave. A young and beautiful girl, abducted by dragons is a very common theme in the Bulgarian folklore. So, if you go to visit that natural landmark, watch out in case if the dragon is still there.
The secrets and legends which we will find in our routes in Strandzha are just in the beginning. So, let’s take the road to the heart of the mountain and our next step – village of Mladezko (Младежко). It is a beautiful, sparsely populated village, situated around 50 km from the town of Burgas. After the exit from the main road, you need to take the right turn and you will find yourself in a different world. Beautiful green forest and lush meadows, watered by a small river with the same name, Mladezka, will accompany you to your road ahead. If you are an owner of an adventurous spirit or just want to relax walking through the forest, this is the right place for you. In the village there are many places, where you can find lodging for the night because it’s a good place for a weekend trip or even for vacation. Mladezko is the second step in a very interesting route, combination of biking, trekking and driving, if you want, because the route is 145 km long. It begins in Burgas and it finishes in the outflow of Veleka River, the biggest river in Strandzha. The outstanding surroundings of the village offer a different kind of activities.
Around a kilometer away from the village is the Spring of Mladezka River. It is a very light walking route which goes through the river valley. In the vicinity of the springs there are 18 caves, named the Founders (Leyarnitzite, Леярниците), but they are not very well examined yet. In the insides of the caves were found traces from the ancient times. In this area is also the biggest Early Byzantine fortress in Strandzha, named Kaleto (Калето). The perfect option for hiking is the recently built walking route, 15 km long, beginning from Mladezko, to Kaleto, village of Evrenosovo and back to Mladezko. It can be passed on bikes too. Near the village of Evrenosovo are located many different megalith facilities, known as dolmens. The people called it dragon halls and that is from where the village gets its name. The root of the village’s name comes from Turkish and can be translated as dragon. There is other wood route beginning from Mladezko and leading to the only one active monastery in Strandzha, near village of Golyamo Bukovo (Голямо Буково). In the outskirts of the village are situated pools with ice cold healing water, recommended for people who have problems with the nervous system and cardiovascular disorders. Near the pools there is a big meadow with many benches and tables and a big fireplace, a perfect place for barbeque and picnic.
Our journey continues to the other attractive village in the area, Brashlyan (Бръшлян), which
name means ivy. Sheltered by the green ageold forests of Strandzha, the village was founded in the 17-th century. The unique style, used for the construction of the houses is the reason why in 1982 it was declared as an architectural and historical reserve. There are a lot authentic houses turned into cozy, little hotels which offer typical meals for this part of Bulgaria. One of the most interesting buildings is the church which is named after St. Dimitar, the protector of the winter. The land where the church was build was a sacred for Thracians. In the pulpit is walled in an ancient altar dedicated to the main Greek god Zeus. Like almost all of the temples in Bulgaria, built at this time, along with the church there is also a school, which is very interesting to be seen.
The most picturesque eco path in this area is called “The road of the serene moon and it’s a reference to the anthem of Strandzha Mounatins – “The serene moon is rising”. It’s connecting the village of Brashlyan and the village of Stoilovo. The 11 km long routе can be covered walking or by bike and the first perfect stop for resting is only after 20 minutes of walking. Then in a beautiful green glade you will a see a simple wooden building. This is one of the many chapels around and it is dedicated to St.Pantaleon – the Healer. The spring near the chapel is considered as a medicinal spring – the popular name for this kind of springs is Ayazmo (Аязмо) – literally ‘holy spring’. The path continues among the old oak woods and the pure songs of the birds to the next place for resting – chapel St George. It is a perfect spot o fulfil your powers and have a bite with the amazing bird’s eye view to the highest peak of Strandzha – Golyamo Gradishte (710 m.), in front of you. The final destination – village of Stoilovo – will be reached after 4 hours passage from the beginning of this outstanding hiking route.
Author: Lyuben Grancharov
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” (Augustine of Hippo). I enjoy filling up the page, called “Bulgaria”, both working as a guide and writing about the mountains of Bulgaria on this blog.