Cover photo: Village of Progled, Ybarzova - Own Work
Village of Progled
6 km from the municipal center of Chepelare, on the way to Smolyan you can take the junction for the Rhodope villages of Progled, Rozhen, and Pamporovo. This small village with a population of about 70 people is the birthplace of the commander of the Hristo Botev first military partisan battalion - Dicho Petrov. The house is a museum, and he is immortalized with a monument above the parking lot at the crossroads of the main road.
The burial mounds in the vicinity testify that the land of the settlement was inhabited in Thracian times. As a location, it is surrounded on all sides by low ridges and dense spruce forests. In summer there is a lot of sun and it is nice for short walks in the surroundings. In winter it is protected from the winds and despite the deep snow, the village is always accessible. The surrounding forests offer their wealth of berries, mushrooms, herbs and beautiful flowers every year.
Traditionally, on the first Saturday of July, locals gather at a meeting on the meadow in front of the fountain in the Tuzla area, near the junction for Rozhen and Pamporovo, so this is a great time to visit!
The area of Kutsinsko Blato above Progled has been declared a natural landmark and is one of the few places on the Balkan Peninsula where you can see the blooming Rhodope lilies from mid-June to early July. This is an extremely beautiful bright yellow flower, included in the Red Book of the rare and endangered species of Bulgaria.
Village of Orehovo
Orehovo is the highest settlement in the Dolen Rupchos area. It’s not known exactly when it was founded, but a necropolis on its land has been excavated since the Haldstadt era.
Fragments of pottery dating from the Thracian era have been found in the Ravnishta area, and 94 copper Roman coins from various emperors have been found in the area of St. Iliya. An old register shows that the settlement existed in 1576. It is known that in 1891 the famous writer Stoyu Shishkov taught here. There are over 20 chapels in Orehovo and its surroundings, which makes it suitable for religious tourism.
By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Peterdx&action=edit&redlink=1" class="new" title="User:Peterdx (page does not exist)">Peterdx</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="bg">Собствена творба</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
The longest eco-trail in our country passes through the village, which starts in the village of Hvoyna and reaches Greece. There are many other remarkable places in its vicinity - the Cheleveshta Dupka cave, where its inhabitants were strangled by the Ottomans, the Koloto hill, where in 1878 the Russian troops residing here trained Bulgarian youth to shoot, the caves where the Orekovo girls hid persecuted by the conquerors, who later received their names - Kerina Dupka, Dankina Dupka and Mariykina Dupka. Nearby is the second highest waterfall in Bulgaria - Skakaloto, but also two smaller - Duplevo and Kosten Kamak.
Village of Mogilitsa
The first evidence of human presence in the area is from about 1000 BC. During the Byzantine Empire the settlement was a resort center. Representatives of the high aristocracy came here for hunting and recreation. Legend has it that the village got its name from the nearby hill (borum). In the evening, when flocks of sheep returned from grazing and passed the hill, it ceased to be visible because of the dust.
In 1820-40 a large feudal "castle" was built in the village, as historians call it, and in fact it was a konak - the largest in the Balkans of its time. It was conceived and realized as a solid winter residence of the legendary Agush Aga and his sons. The building is the Bulgarian version of the Western European feudal castles, the only one of its kind in this part of Europe. The story goes that the construction of the Agushev konak lasted 20 years. The castle has 221 windows, 86 doors and 24 chimneys. It is located in the wonderful Rhodope nature overlooking the green meadows around the banks of the Arda River and the forests above it.
The konak is so large that today it is spoken of in the plural - Agush's konaks. It is an enclosed space consisting of three consecutive courtyards, isolated from each other by internal walls. The yards are surrounded by residential and farm buildings. The chimneys are made of high stone, most of them paired and vaulted. All the rooms where the masters lived are wide and bright, with a fireplace in almost every room.
There was a library in Agush’s konaks - one of the largest private libraries in the Balkans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its founder is considered to be Hadzhi Salih Sami Effendi (grandson of Agush Aga), who died in 1921. The library contained about 400 volumes of books, including 94 manuscripts, as well as documents in Arabic and Turkish, (letters, receipts, certificates, firmans, contracts, orders, etc.) and survived despite the vicissitudes of fate. Currently, the main part of it is stored in the Ivan Vazov National Library in Plovdiv.
The whole building can be defined as similar to the earlier ancestral castles - with a defensive tower and suitable for long fire resistance, with two rows of chess-shaped loopholes. The outer tower is very interesting. Such a tower can’t be found elsewhere in the Rhodopes, its outer walls and roof eaves are painted. Legend has it that this is the work of an unknown Rhodope master, whose right hand was cut off by Agush Aga to make sure that such a masterpiece would never be created. In the Chereshevo neighborhood, not far from Mogilitsa, there was a building, now completely collapsed, which basically repeated the architectural idea of the konak in Mogilitsa - this was the summer chiflik of the same Agush aga.
The buildings have been declared an architectural and artistic monument of national importance since 1964, and to this day are open to the public